Safe space in fiction

*Blows the dust off my blog*

It’s been a while, if you follow my Twitter you’ll know why, but if you don’t, basically life blew up and it’s taking me some time to find my bearings again.

But that’s not why I decided to blog today.

I probably should do some sort of wrap up for the past 6 months or so of hell, but that’s not this post (and I loathe *shoulds*).

No, this post is about safety in the material we read. It’s also about an author’s responsibility to their readers.

Keep in mind I’m both? A published author and a voracious, marginalized reader.

I usually read a lot of romance, because, for me, it’s safe. I know that unless it’s been mismarketed/labeled, a romance will have an HEA (Happily Ever After) at the end. No matter what hell the author puts their characters through, I’m guaranteed that at the end, the main characters will be happy enough that *I* can be happy finding another book to read.

For someone with as many mental health issues as I have, that’s bloody important.

Me and my list of mental health issues… (Gif description: Crowley from Supernatural unrolling a very long scroll/list on the beaten earth of a junkyard)

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But what about the other areas of safety that so many authors, even my favorites, fail to make sure of?

I just ran heart-first into a wicked fail by one of my favorite authors. And even over an hour later and much of that spent cuddling my beloved, I’m still nauseated and wishing like hell I’d never started the reread of a series that I used to like.

For reference: CW something that should NEVER be said about mentally ill people.

There’s a thread there to my reactions and thoughts, but it boils down to one of my favorite authors making me feel so very unsafe.

Unwelcome in her worlds.

Given that she’s one of a dwindling few authors who can still suck me into a story, (I’m always on the lookout for more!) one who I’ve religiously supported by buying her new books even during my political shitstorm motivated reading hiatus of the past couple of years… well, it bloody sucks is what it does.

It hurts to know that one of my fav (former fav?) authors holds enough hatred of someone like me that she’d call me and people like me ‘wrong for lack of a better word’.

I mean… the pub date on that particular book is 2015. Why are we STILL HAVING THIS CONVERSATION?

Seriously, WHY?

There is nothing wrong with being mentally ill. There is nothing wrong with being POC, or mixed race, or queer, or fat, or disabled, or (insert marginalization here).

But you’d really think there was reading some (most?) of the major sellers in any genre you can pick.

Fiction just isn’t safe for marginalized people. I thought maybe, because Ms. Singh is marginalized herself, that I could trust her.

But that trust was just horribly broken and I’m not sure I can get it back.

This is my second reread of the Psy Changeling series. I want to still love it, but all through the series there is a definite thread of ‘if you’re mentally ill, you’re wrong’. And the author went ahead and stated it in that bit of dialogue. The character who said it, by the way, is supposed to be an empath. A really sensitive to others and their problems kind of character. Way to go with the ableism empathic person. Sigh.

Mostly, in the series, it’s shit-talk about people with ASPD (Slur: Sociopath/Psychopath) and it’s hellaciously harmful towards that particular mental illness. (I’m no expert on that, but I know people with ASPD and I’ve read up on it for my characters and like… y’all, don’t ever read that series, it’ll rip you up, you deserve better.) The depictions of ASPD in the Psy Changeling series are narrow, stereotyped to the extreme and wickedly harmful.

The first time I read this series, a couple of years ago, and that book, in particular, I was in a much better place regarding my mental health. I’d just sent out a number of full requests on my first full-length novel I thought worthy of the name, Ilavani. I was seeing modest success on my self-published works, my family was stable and we were making some little bit of extra each month, we had a home and I had a garden. I had a dog.

All of that except my tiny, weird little human family is gone now, and I’ve had to give up on querying my books to agents because I absolutely can’t take it anymore. It, along with the other shit, broke my mental health. I got lucky on one of the last four queries I sent, so I have a great publisher, and as long as they want my work and treat me well, they can keep having my work.

My debut with a publisher is here, BTW, if you like queer fiction with GOOD mental health representation. It’s own voices, the rep is real because it’s how I experience mental illness.

So to say I’m a *bit* more sensitive now than a couple of years ago to the shit-talk about mental illness in the Psy Changeling series is a little bit of an understatement.

I remember crying in joy at reading the way one of the main characters in that book is described. Zaira is mixed-race and seeing the way that expresses in ME, ON THE PAGE IN A MAJOR PUBLICATION… it made me cry tears of joy. (Just goes to show how different time periods in a person’s life can affect their enjoyment of a work of literature.)

Maybe between my stability then, and the way Ms. Singh does so damned well with the mixed-race descriptions and feelings… maybe I missed how horrible she does with mental illness?

It’s possible, I’m only human, after all.

That’s book 14 in the series, by the way, I bought all of them when I discovered Ms. Singh’s work a few years ago, when I had more of a disposable income. I’ve even purchased a bunch I haven’t read yet, which is why I’m rereading the series so I can read the new ones.

And for the most part, I can choose to ignore the shit rep and the shit talk in this series. (I’ve been hurt so much in life that things that legitimately should probably bother me just… don’t. I’m working on this with my therapist.) The characters, worldbuilding, sexy times and ROMANCE makes up for it *for me*, or it did. I’m not sure I can go back after that line though. It HURT.

It stabbed me right in the heart and punched me in the gut.

I don’t know where I want this blog entry to go now. I want to point out so many examples of lack of safety for marginalized people in modern fiction. So, so, so many…

Even among my favorite authors.

But I think I’ll just stop and say DO. FUCKING. BETTER. AUTHORS!

The information is out there. There is someone blogging or tweeting or doing video about *anything* you want to know about.

So do fucking better. Do your damned research if you’re going to have mental illness in your books (and that means more than a freaking google search or wikipedia article, it means reading real life, lived experiences of the marginalization(s) in question).

Do your freaking research into the queer community and our different IDs if you’re going to have us in your books, (oh, and don’t fucking kill us off either) figure out how to write POC WELL if you’re going to include them. Disability? Please… I can’t remember ever reading a book that had good disability rep that was ALSO mainstream. (I guess we could point to Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient… but I don’t believe my autistic brain is a disability so that one is iffy for me. It’s a fantastic book BTW, if you haven’t read it DO and preorder the second one while you’re at it. It’s just as good if not better.)

I’ll end with this. Include us. But don’t USE us. Oh! And hire authenticity/sensitivity readers PLEASE. It’s kinda why we exist and do what we do… so shit like this DOESN’T harm an unsuspecting reader.

I feel horribly used right now. Emotionally beaten.

I’ll probably end up going back to the series because I’m hard up for things to read that suck me in, don’t make my editor brain scream and ALSO feature marginalized characters I can see myself in.

But the hurt will take a while to fade.

(And for what it’s worth, the PTSD rep is so authentic *to my experience of it* in Singh’s Guild Hunter series that it feels like a warm hug to me, so I have no issue with that series, I just reread it prior to Psy Changeling. It almost feels like sinking into a badly needed warm bath to see that and mixed-race rep done well in a majorly best selling series. I’ve heard bad things about the rep in the Rock Kiss series by the same author, so I haven’t and won’t read that one. It’s odd, how they’re all almost penned by different authors.)

Do better authors. So you don’t hurt your readers. Without readers? We authors wouldn’t be able to BE authors.

We’d be weirdos telling ourselves stories in the dark with coffee stained t-shirts and messy hair. Whoops… saw my reflection there, pardon my description, I’m sure it doesn’t resemble other authors AT ALL. (Go on laugh, I’m trying to be funny, damnit!)

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Closing of Multifarious Press

I’ve been dreading both coming to this decision and telling people about it.

One of the hardest things for me to do is admit I’ve been a fool. But boy have I ever been a fool in thinking that *I* had it in me to run a press.

I don’t. I really don’t. If it were something as simple as doing the work of editing, making the covers, publishing the books, (which, I foolishly thought was the bulk of running a press) I could totally do all that. I HAVE done all that for my own books.

But it has honestly come down to people. Creatures I don’t understand in the slightest.

A little over a two years ago I saw so many diverse voices going unpublished because there is a lot of lip service going on about wanting diversity, but not a lot of actual books being put out for a lot of kinds of diversity.

Neuroatypicality for one. I have a lot of the skills necessary to get books out there, but what I don’t have is a thick hide. I’m broken, mentally ill, and the VAST amount of censure and harassment I (and my staff) have come under for DARING to want to help diverse voices find publication is just…

It’s a lot. It’s a large part of what caused me to run my head into a mental health crisis. Just wanting to help diverse voices find publication was definitely not enough. Having the skills wasn’t enough.

I’ve spoken about this before, but other peoples’ expectations of who and what I am shouldn’t have changed the moment I opened a press. Their opinions of my staff shouldn’t have changed either, but there isn’t a single person on my staff except perhaps my website designer who hasn’t gotten hassled for being a *publishing professional* because they’re affiliated with my tiny little shoestring press. I’m appalled that it did? How can people be so… short sighted and cruel? But they were. They REALLY were. People will be people and I’ll continually not understand them.

I thought, maybe if I waited long enough on my mental health hiatus that I’d be able to come back to it and finally publish these beautiful stories. I have some that I wanted to publish so badly that are so damned beautiful, and they DESERVE publication. But I just can’t do it. I don’t think, and neither does my therapist, that me being healthy enough to work at the press is likely to happen any time soon, and I can’t in good conscious keep holding up these brilliant authors from looking elsewhere.

When I opened this tiny little boutique press, I had a bit more faith in humanity. Faith in humanity has always been a failing of mine. I’m an optimist, really, though with all I’ve lived through I really shouldn’t be. I thought that people would, well, help a bit more than they ended up doing. I thought maybe we’d get editors who wanted to pen their own lines of diverse titles, I thought we’d get people interested in helping with contracts and legal paperwork. I definitely thought we’d get more than one patron. There is SO MUCH lip service being put to getting diverse voices out there. There isn’t a lot of follow through from people in publishing on it. Sadly. I foolishly thought there would be.

My staff and I were almost immediately swamped with queries. Which was wonderful, but none of us were being paid for reading them and we have to eat, which means that our paid work and our own writing always had to come first. Our patreon for the press remained for the entire time it was open with ONE person as a patreon. (I’ll be returning that extremely generous patron’s funds.)

I’ve considered keeping the press/website open for as long as I have the business license (another year and a half) but it’s cruel to keep holding the hope that I’ll be well enough to work on these stories over the author heads.

I can’t do that and I won’t.

I’m sorry for not being strong enough to do what I said I wanted to do. I’m sorry I had enough faith in humanity that they’d actually do what they said they wanted to do. But maybe people aren’t yet ready for the diverse stories and voices that are crying out to be seen.

I’ve had many people tell me they’re happy to wait for me to be well enough to work at the press again because they believe in the ideal of the press.

I really and truly wish I could say the same. I believe, deeply, that we need diverse stories. I desperately need more diverse stories to read, but when it came down to it? It was me and my staff working hard at a pipe dream.

I believe I’ve contacted all of my authors personally, if I have missed you, I sincerely apologize. My health has not been good for months, and I can only admit the truth of how badly that affects me, it could easily have made me miss someone.

 

 

 

Not A Romance

Anyone in romancelandia knows that RWA has a stinky track record when it comes to diverse romance of many different varieties. (Or if you don’t, you probably could do some reading to get yourself up to date.)

Racism, homosexual hate, bisexual hate, and so many other forms of dislike and hatred that it’s exhausting to think about much less try to list them all.

I almost canceled my RWA membership this year after hearing how some of my marginalized author siblings were treated last year at the conference.

I ended up renewing it after reading a release they made about a commitment to fixing the problems. I did it because I want to be able to enter my Bloodbound (my most recent release, also polyamorous, also with autistic leads, also kinky) in the RITA next year. I don’t expect to win that either, it’s for the experience. It might final, that one is excellent enough that The Ripped Bodice chose it for display, and it’s more mainstream.

I had entered my Hugo Nominated Ilavani in the RITA awards contest for 2017. I never expected to final, that’s not why I entered.

I entered my story because I believe in it, and I have a bit of a hesitancy about putting myself and my work forward. Entering my book in a blind-judge contest was a good test of that for me.

It actually surprised me that it got some high scores, it got more high than low (lowest and highest scores are thrown out). I’ll be the first to admit that the science-fantasy aspect of Ilavani is not going to be close to everyone’s taste, nor will be the kink or the genetic engineering, or the queer content.

Going forward there are spoilers for Ilavani.

It did absolutely surprise me that one of the judges marked it very low and said it wasn’t a romance.

Whut??

Everyone who enters the RITA has to judge the first round of books. (That was another reason I entered, for the experience of it.)

We have to answer these three questions and give a numerical score of something like 9.6 or 2.7.

Is the love story the main focus of the book?

Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?

Does the entry fall within the category description?

Now for the spoilers.

Is the love story the main focus of the book?

Ilavani is a polyamorous romance with queer, mixed-race, autistic leads. Here’s the blurb (and the links to places you can learn more about it if you’re interested).

The first installment in a long-running, science fantasy series based in a queer, pagan, polyamorous, universe.

3800 years in the future.

Maëlcolm is a skilled BDSM trainer, a spy, and unfortunately, a prince.

Cameron is Maël’s older brother, titular heir to their father’s kingdom and in love with his enby bodyguard, Li.

Kat is a slave. A genetically modified being created for one purpose, and one alone. To please her masters in bed.

Los is a gifted Companion, the only thing that makes him happier than practicing his calling is loving Maël, the one man Los can’t have an official relationship with.

If Maël doesn’t give up his calling and do as the Ard Righ demands, his family loses everything.

If Cam doesn’t do what he needs to do to become worthy of the throne by the Ard Righ’s stringent standards, their family may be executed.

If Kat, autistic, touch-averse, and afraid, chooses to fight her fate, she’ll die.

When an artificial intelligence named ‘the high king’ is at the helm, the cost to human hearts may be impossible to bear.

You can buy it here, it’s serialized due to length, there are five volumes in all.

You can read the first chapter here if you’re so inclined.

Back to my point.

The two princes must save their father’s kingdom, that’s the underpinning plot of the book, which every book needs, something to drive the characters. The focus (what the story is really about) is the two polyamorous romances going on in the book, and more specifically, the formation of the younger brother’s polyamorous relationship.

Cam, the elder brother, is in love with his enby bodyguard Li. Xie can’t give him the only thing he needs, an heir. This is the tension between them, their thing to overcome. Cam falls in love with one of his breeding partners, this is another part of their journey, and a rather romantic one. I show some of the problems polyamorous relationships can have in their story.

The main character is obvious to whoever reads it. Mael is the younger brother, the one who was always indulged because he was the lucky number 13. In Ilavani he has to face the fact that due to political assassination, he’s now in direct line for the throne and it’s a race with his beloved brother Cam to see who can reproduce first. Whoever does, wears the crown, and Mael doesn’t want the crown. He’s autistic and fears he wouldn’t do well with it.

It’s a HORRIBLE time for the gray-aromantic Mael to fall in love. But that’s exactly what he does.

He falls in love with his last BDSM student, Kat, an indentured servant and a recent import to their planet. Falling in love with her makes Mael realize that he’s BEEN in love with his first student and lover Los for decades. (These peeps are pretty long-lived, they’re basically genetically created elves.)

The *entire* character journey for Mael, Kat and Los is about love. It’s about working through the problems and choices they’re confronted with by each of them being in love with the other. So please, someone explain to me exactly how this polyamorous M/M/F relationship isn’t the main focus of the book?

Did the judge even read it? My guess is that they didn’t, or they let a personal prejudice against polyamorous relationships or queer relationships get in the way of a fair score. If that’s the case then RWA *really* needs to investigate that judge and ask for explanations, which is part of the agreement we all signed when we entered our books.

I have massive issues with Christianity, and fade-to-black romances bore me to tears, (I got more than my share of both of those for my judging packet) but I still rated all the books I was sent fairly based on the laid out rules of the contest.

Given that I am not the only person whose book with a marginalized aspect or relationship structure scored low and got a *not a romance* tag, (see here, and here) I think RWA needs to take a close look.

Polyamory is the open, honest ability to love more than one person. This is my *life*. I *live* polyamory.

It’s something a lot of people live, it’s something we’re crying out for representation in our favorite genres of romance and erotic romance.

Someone who can’t accept that, who would call anything BUT a heteronormative, monogamous white man with white woman book NOT A ROMANCE… well, maybe they shouldn’t be judging a contest like the RITA?

If more than one of the five judges had said ‘not a romance’ maybe I’d question as to whether I did my job as an author well enough with that book. But the other four judges ranked it middle of the road or very high and all of them said yes to the questions.

Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?

Ilavani is the first book of a trilogy. It’s still a romance. Each installment is going to (and in the case of Ilavani does) have an HEA (happily ever after) or an HEFN (happily enough for now). Those are the requirements of the genre. A book cannot be billed as a romance without having that. It’d be something like romantic suspense or fantasy with a strong romantic subplot, but it wouldn’t be a romance.

Romance *has* to have that HEA or HEFN. Ilavani does. At the end of Ilavani Mael begs Kat to accept him as he is, a prince, with this horrible burden he has around his neck (spoiler). He asks her to spend her life with him, he frees her. How is that *not* emotionally satisfying? How is it *not* optimistic? Kat is even plotting how to make sure the guys’ relationship stays strong. So it’s not even because the polyamorous aspect isn’t complete. It’s complete enough *for now*.

Does the entry fall within the category description?

The category class I entered for Ilavani was erotic romance. Ilavani is *the* most erotic piece I’ve ever written. It has so much character driven sex in it people have written to me to tell me it’s their favorite bedroom aide d’amour and it’s saved two marriages (that I know of).

Erotic. Check!

Romance… it’s all about the characters, Mael, Kat, Los, Cam, Li, and Mai. These are the two intertwined polyamorous relationships. This is a family of choice. This isn’t erotica (I have no problem with erotica, erotica is awesome, but it’s defined as *the sexual journey of the characters* NOT the *emotional journey of the characters*. Erotic romance is the latter. My book is about the emotional journey, of people falling in love when they shouldn’t while they are trying to save their kingdom as they know it. (While graphically boinking one another’s brains out in various kinky fashions.)

My book is definitely erotic romance.

I question the veracity of this judge’s answers. If it were just me, I wouldn’t make a stink, but with several other authors that I know of getting poor scores and/or the ‘not a romance’ tag for race or for polyamory, or for bisexuality… well. I think we can see the actual problem isn’t that our stories aren’t romances.

The actual problem is something far darker and much more disgusting.

It’s bigotry.

 

 

Bloodbound’s release is an emotional one for me.

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I have so many mixed emotions about my Debut release from a publisher.

I have books out, ones I’ve released myself. I know how to do it, but the experience of being traditionally published is so completely different from self-pubbing that I feel justified in calling BLOODBOUND my debut.

I’ve gone from frustration, to joy, to fear, to tears of joy, to terror at what people will say and think of me after reading my book to knee bending gratitude that my publisher and editor gave me the chance to get my story out there and so many other emotions that I can’t even put a name to them all.

It’s such a maelstrom of feelings.

There’s also this odd… grief… almost. With my other titles, I always have the option, if I need/want to pull them from the market or make a change if someone points out a typo or what have you. I can do that. With BLOODBOUND, I don’t have that. So it’s a lot like saying goodbye to a child I’ve birthed, grown, nurtured, disciplined and made ready for the world to see.

It’s out there now. I can’t protect it anymore, I can’t make changes to it, and I certainly can’t pull it (not that I really WANT to, that would negate the point of publishing it after all).

But there’s this odd melancholy haunting me today. It’s done. It’s finished. It is a thing complete and now I need to move on to new projects. After having BLOODBOUND front and center in my mind, off and on, since November 2016 when I started writing it. It’s an adjustment, for certain.

Moving on, in the factual sense is easy enough, I have BLOODBOUND’s sequel SOULBOUND 95% done and almost ready to send to my Critique Partners. So concentrating on that will be a good thing. It’s already past my self-imposed due date of the end of March in any case.

Emotionally though? I think it’ll take time to sink in, that my brain baby is out in the world now. That I have to say goodbye in a very real sense to that book.

There’s also a sense of hope. That BLOODBOUND will reach the readers it was written for, and maybe provide a window into what life as someone like me is like for those who don’t need it as badly.

And that’s where my ask comes in.

BLOODBOUND is traditionally published through a small press. A larger, reputable one for certain, but it doesn’t have the kind of backing a big-5 publisher can give a book if they choose to. In publishing, so much about success is predicated by marketing dollars and getting the book into the public eye. There are readers out there who will LOVE my book, who need it to see themselves on the page, but if they don’t know it exists, they can’t enjoy it.

I’d like to ask anyone who reads this, if you’ve ever learned anything from me. If you support queer people. Autistic people. Mixed-race people. Polyamorous people. Pagan people… tell people about the book. Retweet things on it, reshare on all the social media networks you’re a part of. Share its name in the fan-groups you’re part of. The book is kinky, erotic, and paranormal with vampires and shapechangers, so it’d fit in any of those groups.

If you can, please buy a copy of the book. If it’s not your kind of book, buy a copy and donate it or gift it to someone who DOES love paranormal romance. Maybe run a giveaway of the book.

If you can’t afford it, and it’s a possibility for you (or even if you can afford it, and want to go the extra step) go to your local library and ask them to order a copy of the book. That helps so much, it’ll take probably five minutes of your time to fill out the form, (and many of them are online now) but it can mean so much success for me, and it’ll help people who need that book to find it.

If you read it, please leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and noble and Indigo. It’s really as simple as cut and pasting your review from one place to the next, I do this all the time and it takes me less than five minutes.

Please understand a review does NOT have to be a magnum opus, it can be as simple as “I loved this book because reason.” that’s it. It helps authors so, so, soooo much.

I’m not joking when I say that reviews sell books. Aside from people reading the reviews, the number of reviews on places like Amazon decide which books get featured in their newsletter and which ones get shown to buyers browsing for books like that. Even if you didn’t like the book, or my voice wasn’t for you… please just review it. Even if you hated it, you can review it because it’ll make sure that other people aren’t getting into something they don’t want to read.

Reviewing is IMPORTANT. I can’t emphasize that enough. I really can’t.

Here’s the info for doing any and all of the above, and you have my sincerest gratitude. Now, on to SOULBOUND! (I might have to shed a few tears of goodbye for BLOODBOUND though, it’s been my companion for close to two years, saying goodbye is hard to do!)

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To buy:

I earn the most money on digital copies from the publisher, but I get the most exposure from either print or digital from Amazon, so really, purchase wherever you usually do business. There isn’t a better or worse way *for me* to have you buy my book.

If you’re thinking of getting a print copy, asking your local bookstore to order it can help a lot because oftentimes, they’ll order a second copy for shelf-stock, ensuring me two sales vs one.

Digital from the publisher

Print from Amazon

Digital from Amazon

Indigo for KOBO (digital, you’ll have to go in with the ISBN to get the store to order it, they can. If they give you a hassle, tell them it’s distributed through Ingram.)

Digital for B&N for NOOK

Print for B&N

Webbutton long Ripped Bodice

Print ISBN: 978-1-948608-91-6

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-948608-80-0

And if you want a signed copy direct from me with the swag pack (until I run out of them!) You can send me $15.99 in US funds plus exact shipping from Canadian postal code N6J 3R5 to your location, to my paypal address and I’ll send it off to you within the next couple of weeks. (As soon as I get my box of books!) Just do me a favor and send me an email telling me you’ve paid for a copy please so I can keep track? (kaelan.rhywiol@gmail.com)

If you purchased it elsewhere and want a free swag-pack, *until I run out!*

All you need to do is send me a purchase receipt from the publisher for digital or anywhere for print to the above email address (Amazon et alli have unfavorable to the author return policies on digital books, so, unfortunately, the digital purchases aren’t eligible from anywhere but the publisher, I’m sorry.) Include your address and I’ll get it out as soon as possible! If you’re worried about how to get the book from the publisher onto your Kindle, Nook or Kobo, you should be able to email them to kindle/upload them to kindle or upload them to Nook and Kobo (I don’t use those two, so don’t know if you can email them or not.)

Thank you so much for everything you do for me and people like me. It really means the world to know that people like me have a place in publishing and in your lives.

 

 

 

Marvel Studios Fvcked up with Infinity War… and here’s why.

THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR INFINITY WAR IN THIS REVIEW.

Content Warning Foul Language.

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Last chance… SPOILERS AHEAD. Some for Age of Ultron and other Marvel titles as well.

I’m going to preface this by saying that I don’t follow the comics. I haven’t since uni for a couple of reasons. So I’m approaching this review and my reactions to Infinity War from a MOVIE watcher’s perspective.

Superhero movies are my brain candy. They are one of the few types of movies I make sure my disabled, broke as fuck ass gets out to see in theatre. I save up for these things. It costs me a lot in time, energy, health resources, and money that I really don’t have a lot of to go see these.

I have expectations for them (and yes, I let far too much slide with regards to these movies).

I hurt like a son of a bitch yesterday, and I STILL went to see the movie. Because I really wanted to have the Marvel Movie Experience.

Boy did I not get it.

Backing up a little, I’m not much of a traditionalist for 99.9% of things in life. My husband and I never did a wedding, we don’t have a ‘song’, we’re lackadaisical about couples holidays… and still been happily married for 20+ years. To kinda give you a bit of a handle on my me. I like bending genres, reading/writing genre-busting books…

But one of the very few things I will go to the mat for are story-telling tropes and formulas.

I ripped the hell out of Rogue One because it fucked up the formula.

And that’s one of the ways Marvel Studios fucked up with Infinity War.

See, in the comics universes, there are two main leaders that most people know. DC and Marvel.

Some people like one and dislike the other, some people like both for different reasons.

I love both, for a variety of reasons.

If I want dark and gritty entertainment, with a grimdark sense of reality, I will turn to DC, because historically they have given that to me. I can COUNT on them to give that to me.

Walking into a DC movie, I know that it’s very likely a character that I like might die, it might even be the main character, or the love interest, and because I’m going into it knowing that, I’m good with it.

Walking into a Marvel movie, I know I’m going to be left on a high-point, one illustrating hope and helping me believe for a single moment in time that humanity is worth saving and that hope actually matters.

They didn’t end Infinity War on a high point. They left me no hope, which means I have NO EXCITEMENT FOR THE NEXT FILM. None.

I really don’t give a fuck about anything to do with Marvel now. (Except Deadpool 2 and if that sucks it’ll be the final nail in the coffin of my love for Marvel. Actually, if Loki ends up dead for good, with as much as Tom loves that role? That’d kill it off quicker than fire on a seedling for me too.)

Lolz, people will think I’m being dramatic. While I own the fact that I CAN be dramatic, I stopped watching Walking Dead after they killed off ONE (not both) of my favorite characters. Haven’t caught an episode since and I stuck with that show for YEARS of bad writing. I’d been a fan from first season.

When I’m done, that’s it. I’m done.

And frankly, I have no reason to go watch any other Marvel film having to do with the Avengers or any of them until and unless they fix what they fucked up. So sad for Captain Marvel… even if it’s a prequel, I’m not laying down money to see it. Not after Infinity War.

Marvel Studios has done an amazing job in the past ten years investing me in the characters they mostly freaking killed off in Infinity War.

Leaving me soured at the end of that film was a bad business decision on their part.

You can argue (and it’s been argued with me) that because they made me FEEL SOMETHING (in this case anger, irritation, annoyance, and WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK Marvel?) then the storytelling achieved its goal.

I disagree.

Storytelling isn’t JUST about making people feel something. That’s part of it sure.

It’s not even close to all of it though.

Part of successful storytelling for series and franchise titles like the Marvel movies is MAKING THE VIEWER OR READER WANT TO COME BACK FOR MORE.

Not turning them off from ever wanting to watch anything they made again.

And that’s exactly what Infinity War did to me and many people like me.

I came home after watching IW and tried to watch one of my favorites in the Marvel universe. A comfort watch, so to speak. One I can watch over and over again, regardless. I couldn’t get through it. IW killed Marvel for me.

Because they fucked with the formula.

I knew, going into it, to expect *very bad things* from early reactions of my friends and general chatter about the movie and crowds reactions.

I didn’t expect it to make me hate Marvel Studios. That was a bit of a shock. I didn’t expect it to remove all enjoyment I have in previous titles.

Because they didn’t give me any hope at the end of IW. The bad guy got the happy ending. That’s it. I count on Marvel for hope, and they didn’t deliver.

A single flash onto how the heroes are going to fix this cock-up just before end credits could’ve saved that movie. Because it did have most of what Marvel does so well.

They didn’t do that though. They left me, (and the entire theatre I sat in) cold, dead, and mourning our favorites.

Knowing that, because there are already sequels to other Marvel franchise movies signed and filming, that something would fix it (or that all the other ones will be predated to IW), but no real knowledge ON FILM for us to cling to? No hope?

Not a good move, Marvel. Not a good move at all.

Oh and guess what, other than Deadpool 2, I’m not laying down money on ANYTHING Marvel puts out until and unless they fix the cock-up they made with IW in a way that my heart can take.

They broke my trust. They broke my heart, and those things can’t be fixed easily.

Which is WHY we pay attention to things like tropes and story-telling genres and models of entertainment.

People trust us (I’m as much of an entertainer as anyone, given that I’m making my money from writing and editing) so I KNOW how this is supposed to work.

It’s a shame Marvel didn’t. Or that they thought they were too big to fail (and hell, maybe they are). I only know that *I* a die-hard Marvel fan, am not spending more money on Marvel films barring Deadpool 2 going forward. Not unless they fix what they fucked up.

When I want a hopeful ending to a story, I’ll pick up a romance, because I’m guaranteed an HEA (Happily Ever After) because it’s a ROMANCE. (They aren’t marketed as romances unless they have an HEA.)

When I want my guts ripped out and anxiety about my characters, I’ll pick up a sci-fi or a fantasy by a favorite author.

When I want to wonder who-done-it with no way of knowing if it’ll be happily resolved, I’ll pick up a crime thriller.

When I want a who-done-it with a guaranteed HEA? I’ll pick up a paranormal romance.

In entertainment, consumers expectations HAVE to be taken into account when you’re doing anything with regards to, you know, entertainment.

If you aren’t thinking about that while you’re crafting what you hope will entertain, then you’re going about it the wrong way.

I still don’t know what the actual fuck Marvel Studios and the Russo Bros were thinking by doing that with IW.

I trusted Marvel to give me what they always have, hope. (I mean, I’m still hoping for the fast-twin character to come back from Age of Ultron, because NO ONE DIES AND STAYS DEAD IN MARVEL! That’s one of the things I love about it!)

They left that story open ENOUGH (fast healing, fast-paced scene and we didn’t actually see him dead/stay dead) that it’d be believable within the Marvel universe if he reappeared.

So there was *some* hope for that character.

In IW… they left us with NO hope. None. Except the vague knowledge that they have to fix it somehow, or all other upcoming titles will be predated to IW, which… would be extremely odd and ill thought out.

But given how badly they fucked up with IW I wouldn’t put it past them.

I trusted Marvel to give me what they always have, what I *need* from Marvel.

They failed in that trust.

Within the first five minutes, they killed off my favorite character, Loki. I knew that one was coming because I specifically asked a friend if he died (I needed to be prepared for that one).

So, I’m sitting there watching the movie, and it’s entertaining enough in the way Marvel films usually are for me. Lots of action, pretty people doing unbelievable to the laws of physics things on screen… (I’m a scientist, by all rights I should hate superhero movies JUST for the OMFG whut aspect on the physics… like I said, I give them far too much leeway.) some emotional oomph, lots of CGI, reasonably decent writing.

Writing wise, they tried to cram far too many disparate plots into one 2ish hour movie. They had too many character arcs competing for attention so NONE of the character arcs had the emotional oomph they needed.

If they wanted to do that, from a writing standpoint, and make me feel it, they needed to slow things down a bit and make the movie longer. I have no problem with long movies that have an intermission. Hell, I went to Trilogy Tuesday for LoTR (19+ hours in a movie theatre).

It could have been done, and honestly, should’ve been done.

They did a good job almost making me empathize with the megalomaniacal genocide preaching villain (which, honestly, that was VERY well done because I’m very much not for killing trillions of sentient beings with the snap of a finger).

But Thanos was the only one who got a happy ending in that film.

ALMOST EVERYONE ELSE I CARED ABOUT DIED.

Then roll credits.

That… that is not the hopeful ending I need from Marvel Movies.

Now. Yes. I know that they are likely going to fix it in the sequel, which was originally titled Infinity War 2.

And it IS Marvel. People don’t stay dead in Marvel.

Which is one of the charms Marvel has for me. If I wanted a fucking DC movie, I’d’ve GONE to a DC movie.

There are a number of ways they can fix it (and I swear to gods if they don’t Marvel will be dead to me, don’t piss off your fan base peeps, it’s bad business). I’ve discussed this with friends who read the comics, and I know which one is most likely.

That friend is warning me that there will likely be a sacrifice needed for the ‘fix’. And if it is? (You’ll note, those of you who’ve seen it, that ONLY the original Avengers survived?) It’ll be one or all of the originals who has to die to replace the new ones. They’ll have to sacrifice their lives to pass on the torch to the new Avengers, and that’s how it will be.

Which will also ruin Marvel for me.

See, Marvel is not DC. Marvel heroes can retire, they can fade away, they can be referred to as ‘they had to leave for the good of their families’.

They can’t die, not and stay dead. Not if it’s gonna be Marvel, and not if it’s gonna leave viewers hopeful and wanting to come back for more.

In order to make Infinity War a good movie, other than the basic storytelling issues it had, it needed to have a flash of a way for the heroes to fix it before the end credits.

Something to leave the viewer with the hope that, ‘oh, holy shit the world is fucked but we KNOW our heroes can fix it!’

That’s what brings us back to watch the next Marvel film, and the next, and the next.

Not a sense of poignant gloom and doom and ‘wait, that’s IT? THAT’S WHERE THEY ARE LEAVING US? FOR THE YEAR OR MORE IT’S GONNA TAKE TO PUT OUT THE SEQUEL?’

So… as far as Infinity War goes? I really wish I’d skipped it.

It wasn’t worth my money, it wasn’t worth my angst, and it almost isn’t worth me writing this review.

Maybe if they’d released BOTH IW 1 and IW 2 at the same time, or within weeks of each other, they could’ve gotten away with that shite.

As it stands?

Nope.

If you like my work, my writing, advocacy, and editing is my only income.

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Ongoing saga

In the ongoing saga of how I’m being bullied and harassed by Whitney Ellenby and her husband Keith, I’ve received yet another email, AFTER ASKING THEM TO STOP.

She has said that she’s reporting me to Twitter, Goodreads and ‘appropriate online authorities’ that *I* am in direct violation because my EMAIL tells her it’s going to be her fault when other parents hurt their kids.

My heart is doing a hummingbird impression in my chest.

How can these people think it’s okay to keep harassing me because I hated their harmful book?

Email text that I responded to her with. (I’m trying NOT to respond to them, but I NEED THEM TO STOP.)

Since I’ve posted that nowhere except my website. It violates none of those policies. Do you seriously think you’re going to manage to bully me and harass me into shutting up? You’re just making me more determined.
I have asked you, repeatedly to stop contacting me. You are now harassing me as well as bullying me.
STOP HARASSING ME. STOP BULLYING ME.
YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HARASS OR BULLY SOMEONE WHO HATED YOUR BOOK.

In the interest of transparency

CONTENT WARNING mention of panic attacks, abuse of autistics, mention of email harassment, ableist language as a self-label

I reviewed a harmful book by an autistic martyr parent. It’s gone viral, so you may have heard.

Here is the review, here is the twitter thread.

When this page came across my feed, the author claiming that the book itself proves she didn’t abuse her son, I was motivated, out of stupidity I guess, to reach out through her comment section to let her know I HAD read the whole book and found it even more horrifying than the WaPo article.

She emailed me, implying that I had obtained the book illegally.

In the interest of transparency, and honesty, I’m sharing all of the text I have sent to this woman, and her husband.

These are my words, so I’m allowed to share them. I would DEARLY love to share the emails both she and her husband have since sent to me, because oh my dear gods they have me in tears and a panic attack. Both last night, and again this morning.

Suffice to say that they implied I’d gotten the book illegally, that I didn’t actually read the book, that I should REREAD that travesty, that I said I knew their son better than they did.

Then I just got one from the husband claiming that *I* a confirmed autistic am OBVIOUSLY not autistic, that I am probably a Russian internet troll bent on hurting good people like them.

So. Before I go close myself in the bathroom and rock myself calm. Here is the text I sent via the author’s contact section on her website.


What I sent to Ellenby via her contact form on her website in response to her defense of the WaPo article.

Oh? I’ve read the whole book now. Your book paints you as JUST as abusive if not worse than that article described. There were times in the book that you admitted to wanting to give your son a tranquilizer, which you had on HAND to go to a birthday party.

You really need to pull that book. It’s not out yet, so you still have a chance to repair this damage before it’s totally done. It’s harmful to the autistic community and it’s incredibly harmful to your son.

People, autistic people are already reading it and being harmed by it. I’m one of them.

Parents of autistic kids are going to read it and think that’s the best way to do things!! It’s not. It’s not even CLOSE.

Please rethink the massive amount of damage you can and are doing.

You’re wrong. You are VERY wrong.

These kinds of books need to be stopped.

You said you didn’t want to write another autism parenting book, you failed so hard on that. The only thing you did better? Was to insult autistics and provide graphic accounts of abuse of the disabled.

I wish you the best of luck, I think you’re actually a rather talented author if you actually wrote something you knew anything about. You so obviously DO NOT understand autism. Not if you could write those things. You just don’t.

By the way? You read as autistic to me. Female autistics don’t show the same signs, and we’re JUST as common as male autistics. The data and research is badly skewed.

You and I aren’t far apart in age, you wouldn’t have been diagnosed at a young age any more than I was.

Please… Please pull the book. You’re doing untold amounts of harm.

I don’t want contact with you, after reading that book I don’t much like you. But I think you need to know that people HAVE read the book, and they feel JUST the same as after reading that article.

That book HURTS people. Autistic people, like your son. Like me. Like my children, like many of my friends.

It’s not going to get better.


And here is the text of the email I stupidly responded to her with. My only defense is that it riled me to have it implied that I illegally obtained a book when I got it from NetGalley and the publisher.

If someone knows if I’m legally allowed to share the text of the emails they sent me, please let me know.


With as much grace as I’m capable of showing to someone who would hurt a child as much as you have, let me explain some things as politely as I possibly can.
I received a copy of your book from NetGalley and your publicity firm. I requested it after seeing that bloody horrible article in WaPo. I’m autistic, and the mother of autistics, and I am SO SICK of autism parents writing like they have a clue about what they’re talking about, because honestly, most of you don’t. I review books like yours, HOPING one of you is going to prove me wrong. I mean, I actively HOPE one of you is a decent person. So far? None of you have been. I reviewed TO SIRI WITH LOVE and have been on Bustle and in the NY Observer because of my work on it. I imagine my words will be picked up about this book too, I’d be very surprised if they weren’t. I’m a reasonably well known autistic advocate in online circles.
I’ll attach a screenshot of the letter from your publicity group at the end of this email, since you seem to be implying I didn’t come by the book legitimately.
Look, I get it that you’re a new author. I’m not. I work in publishing, the way this works is that ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) are put out from the publisher around a month in advance, Netgalley and Edelweiss are the most common places to ask for a copy. We reviewers can also email the publisher to ask for a copy of the book. The idea is to drum up publicity for the book, in hopes that the reviews will be positive. The deal is that we reviewers provide an HONEST review, which frankly you aren’t going to like because it’s not favorable, in exchange for a free copy of the book.
Now, using your own methods… (Note, she numbered her demands that I provide quotes from her own book, I don’t know why, to prove I’d actually read it maybe?)
1) Do not talk down to me, I’m autistic, I’m not stupid.
2) I’m not wading through that filth you call a book again to get you exact quotes. It’s bad enough I actually read the whole thing once, I will certainly never reread it. And if you doubt I did? I invite you to take a look at my live-tweeting of it. https://twitter.com/KaelanRhy/status/969089091051569152 I’ve quoted you there. A lot. Properly, as I am actually allowed to quote words from books as long as I source the book/author. I’ve also given my educated, and sometimes salty opinion of what I thought of your words. Since you seem to need a reminder of the words YOU actually wrote… It was right before the birthday party, you said something along the lines of seriously considering giving Zack a sliver of tranquilizer before the party. You said you’d given it to him several times before and it had relaxed him.
3) I have no issue with autistics using anti-anxieties, nor allistics for that matter. If the doc prescribed them to Zack, then maybe he needed them. I don’t honestly know, nor do I really care. How you can possibly think I’m insulting my own people by being upset that you threatened to drug your son into compliance for a birthday party is beyond me. Honestly, that’s how it read. It really did. I’m not the only person to have thought so. There are currently at least two other autistics I know of reading and tweeting, unfavorably, about your book.
4) As far as intent goes, isn’t there something you lawyers love to say? Something to do with mens rea? I’m a historian and a teacher, not a lawyer. Intent does not equal result. The intent behind your book may have been good. I don’t know you, & don’t really want to. The result is OVERWHELMINGLY that you ARE hurting autistic people. You have hurt me. I’ve been crying, off and on for two days as I read that damned book. I’m still awake at 2 am my time, often glancing in at my children, who are both autistic, and wondering how the hell someone like you could publish those cruel and often nasty things about a child like them.
Honestly, how could you? How? Do you not see what those words will DO to your children when they read that book? If you don’t? I could tell you, but I highly doubt, from the tone of your message that you’re even close to listening to someone you deem as less intelligent and less worthy than you.
5) Stop with the PFL please. Autistics, by and large, HATE IT. It demeans us. If you knew ANYTHING about autism, you’d know that. Same as you’d know the bloody difference between a meltdown and a tantrum. They aren’t the same thing. Do you have any idea what a vibrant community we have online? I doubt it.
6) I still can’t believe, even if you don’t accept that your book will and already has harmed autistic people, that you CAN’T see how much those words will harm your son. I don’t understand that.
7) A thorough reading (she said that a thorough and accurate reading of her book would prove her point, as if I *hadn’t* done so) of your book made me throw up. It made me almost meltdown, that a person like you could be at all involved with autistic people, and are likely autistic yourself… it sends chills up my spine and makes me physically ill. It really does. I have no idea the sheer amount of harm you are doing with your ambassador’s group, and because you so badly misunderstand autism? You don’t either. I think it’s a great idea, but do you employ autistic people to help you? Do you know that our rates of unemployment are around 85% regardless of how well educated we are? Do you have any idea how close to poverty most of us live? Do you care?
8) An accurate reading of your book makes it quite clear that you hate your son and prefer your daughter. It makes it QUITE clear that you do not understand autism. For gods sake, you use PFL, refer to meltdowns as tantrums and quote crap from freaking auti$m $peaks. You seem to only understand the lies that Auti$m $peaks spouts, and people like Suskind. Do you realize that almost everyone in the autistic community thinks he’s a joke, or a fraud? There are some few allistic people who write about us that we like. It’s because they listen. He is not one of them. You will not be either if you go on to publish this book.
9) Do not besmirch my honesty or integrity. If I say I’ve read your book? I have. From page one to the very last page.
10) You can’t control how people will view your book, how they will read it, and you saying you’re sorry for how it affected me while at the same time telling me I misunderstood it smacks of so much arrogance. You really won’t get far in publishing, at least with the author side of things, with that attitude. The autistic community is HUGE online, especially on Twitter. Telling us we’re wrong for our very valid interpretation and feelings about your book? It’s really not a good look. You not being able to control how people will view your words is the risk you take as an author. I believe your intent was good, but your result failed. Badly.
11) I’m not usually the type to talk to the authors I review, I’m not even sure why I did or am. Perhaps I’m truly hoping you’ll listen and pull the book before it causes even more damage. Right this second I have autistics telling me they’re having panic attacks and flashbacks to their own abuse, just by reading my quoted words. They haven’t even read some of the worst stuff in the book! I have. THAT is the kind of harm I’m talking about. If you read my tweet threads, read the comments replying to it too.
12) Yes, you do make it clear that your harmful methods, which are absolutely abusive, are your idea alone and against medical advice. But the fact that you make it seem like they worked completely for Zack (you do realize that later in life he’s likely to suffer MASSIVE ptsd from that, right? MANY of us do) are going to have a clear result. What exactly do you think desperate parents who don’t understand autism, who believe it’s a horrible, disfiguring disability that truncates families and reduces enjoyment of life… all of the very nasty things you said in your book… what do you think they’re going to DO when they read that? They’re going to torture their kids in just the same way you tortured yours. And the outcome won’t always be as positive. So it worked for Zack. I’m happy for you both, there are OTHER better methods that your book doesn’t even mention. Those desperate families are going to harm their kids, and it WILL be your fault. It may not be legally anything to do with you, but morally? It’s on you. You can’t escape that. I think that’s probably why I said something because the book doesn’t pub for another month or so. You DO still have time to undo this. We, as authors, have a deep and abiding moral responsibility to make sure our words don’t harm anyone or cause someone to harm others. If it’s pointed out to us that they do? The right answer is to apologize and repair, if you can, the harm you’ve done. Period. I take my responsibility as an author of touchy subjects VERY seriously. It’s totally up to you how you take yours.
13) You definitely implied, if not outright claimed, that you’re an expert on Autism several times throughout your book, and no, I’m not wading through it again to find the quotations. I’m sure you’ve got a copy of it, you can do a word search yourself. You claimed to be a scientist once too. Also…did you NOT write your bio for Amazon? We authors usually provide the text for those. Here… let me cut and paste it below to make it absolutely clear that I’ve actually read it. Since you doubt my honesty so much.
Of course, you have a right to speak for yourself and share your story and your viewpoint. You also have the right and responsibility to bear the burden of the resulting harm. I just wanted you to know how very harmful I and many in the autistic community ALREADY find your book. Once it publishes? You have no control anymore. And you very likely WILL be taken to the cleaners. Diversity advocates on Twitter are ALREADY calling for it to be boycotted.
Then again, books like yours get all sorts of accolades and it took me forever to find a decent publisher for my work. I doubt that washington post will even bother to print my review or what I’ll write up to send to them about your book. I don’t have connections you see, and I’m autistic. I’m out and proud about that, so to most people, my opinion doesn’t matter. Because I’m stupid.
Books like yours don’t help that, you know.
As an aside, I can’t believe that you’re an author and not on Twitter. I really can’t believe it. The writing community on there is almost as rich and varied as the autistic one.
Now. I’m tired, I’m still hurting beyond belief at reading your book, and I’m going to try to go to sleep. I very STRONGLY urge you to pull this book. You have no idea the amount of pain you’ve already caused. I’ve pasted the promised proof below.
I think it’s best we don’t speak again.
Kaelan

Pasted bio from Amazon, I bolded the parts where it claims she’s an expert.

About the Author

Whitney Ellenby is a former US Department of Justice, Disability Rights attorney whose writings have been published in The Washington Post, a law review periodical, and the U.S. DOJ website. She is the author of “Divinity vs. Discrimination: Curtailing the Divine Reach of Church Authority,” Golden Gate University Law Review (1996)), as well as an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. DOJ Disability Rights Division regarding discrimination against mobility-impaired individuals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She is the proud parent of a son with Autism and founder of “Autism Ambassadors,” a charitable venture through which she runs exclusive recreational events for over 600 families impacted by Autism in the Washington, DC/Maryland area, including a Sensory-Friendly showing of the world-famous “Gazillion Bubbles Show.” She is an expert on Autism and has testified before the Maryland Senate on disability-related issues, is a member of the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council for Montgomery County, MD and serves on the University of Maryland Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board. Whitney’s expertise is steeped in her extensive disability law background, personal experience with her own son, and over 10 years of serving children, teens and adults with Autism of all ages through her “Autism Ambassador” events. Her monthly “Ambassador events” have been featured in local t.v. news, The Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine, and The Bethesda Gazette. Whitney was most recently honored with an “Autism Awareness Proclamation” and “Community Leader” award for her advocacy and dedication to the disability community of Maryland. She has what she describes as a “healthy obsession” with all things Autism.

I then pasted a screenshot of the email I received from her publicity firm. I can’t seem to figure out, as shaken as I am, how to paste that here. I shared it with her to prove where I’d gotten her book, since she made it seem in her email that she highly doubted I’d received a legitimate copy or even read it.
I woke up this morning to a letter in my email from her husband, of all people. He was defending his wife, telling me the book was beautiful and defending their treatment of their son. This is the text I sent back to him.

The very fact that you use functioning labels means you have very little idea of what it means to be autistic. And as far as I and many other autistics are concerned? Have no business working with us. I never said that I knew Zack, in fact, I said that I didn’t. I don’t want to know any of you. I certainly do not want to see any of your names in my inbox again.
Assuming that because I type well and communicate well with words on a screen means that I cope well with all aspects of life in an allistic world again proves that you have no idea what it means to be autistic.
Was I condescending? Possibly, it wasn’t my intent, any more than it was your or your wife’s intent to harm, what, at this point, is thousands of autistics. It will be more when that book comes out. She implied that I may have gotten the book illegally. I tried, in my very blunt, autistic way, to explain how this business works.
Were your actions and inactions abusive to your son? They certainly read that way. Not just to me, but to the thousands of other autistics who have read my review threads, to obviously, given the defensive tone on your wife’s website MANY people who read the WaPo article as well. Your intent and your love for him does not matter. It really doesn’t. ACTION is what matters, and those ACTIONS were abusive. ABA itself is deplored as being abusive, most autistics wouldn’t use it on a dog, you know. In fact, if those methods themselves were used on dogs, the person doing them would be reported to animal control.
If Zack is around 16? He won’t be showing PTSD from that yet. We usually don’t because we internalize it. It usually hits sometime in our 20s or 30s. ABA alone causes it, the rest of the things you guys did to your son? Regardless of your intent? It will only exacerbate it.
In fact, ABA breaks child labor laws, but because it’s ‘therapy’ it’s okay.
Your wife’s ‘beautiful’ book is going to harm so many more autistic kids. Desperate parents are going to do EXACTLY as I said they will, because you two put yourselves forward as being an authority on autism. Legally, it’ll have nothing to do with you, because you’ve both CYAd. Morally? That harm is on you both.
Good luck. Do not contact me again. Seeing either of your names in my inbox sends me into a panic attack. I only reached out in what is so very obviously a vain attempt at trying to halt this train wreck before it harms more autistic people because I care about people like me.
And I’m so sick of people like you hurting us. I have autistic kids who have to live in this screwed up world, and people like you, who claim that books like that are beautiful, and good, and needed? You make it worse.
Goodbye.

There’s been another letter from him, claiming that I’m a troll and not-autistic (I knew that was coming, said so in my thread) but I’m actually smart enough not to respond to that.
I am a shaken, panic-stricken mess right now. I’m crying, and I HATE to cry.
Authors? DO NOT RESPOND TO REVIEWERS.
Reviewers? Be smarter than me and don’t try to reach out to authors to stop their harm. I’m an authenticity reader for autism and… I thought maybe she’d listen. Mea culpa.

 

Review: PETER RABBIT the movie, by SONY

THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS

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First, I don’t tend to review movies, because I’m much more of a book person, and the movies I *would* review I tend not to, because I don’t want to spoil them for people who can’t see them right away.

My kid wanted to see Peter Rabbit, so, given that it’s Family Day here in Canada I took  Mr. 5 year old.

If there’d BEEN another kids movie playing that he hadn’t seen, I would’ve taken him to that because I’d heard some really unpleasant things on Twitter about Peter Rabbit.

Hence this review.

Twitter, and the people who called it out for the reason they called it out for, were wrong.

So, what *I* heard on Twitter was “Don’t support Peter Rabbit because they make fun of people with life-threatening allergies.”

AND “Peter Rabbit has the bunny characters throwing items of allergy at someone with a deathly allergy for funnsies.”

And because I’d never been steered wrong by the people I heard it from, if my kid hadn’t so desperately wanted to see it, AND it hadn’t been the only kid-appropriate movie playing now, I would’ve avoided it. Based on that I wouldn’t have seen a decent movie.

It wasn’t THE BEST MOVIE EVAR!, it had some major issues, but it WAS good comedy if you like American style slap-stick comedy. (And I so rolled my eyes at how VERY AMERICAN some of the humour was.) My kid really enjoyed it, and there were enough parental jokes to keep me entertained as an adult. Especially the rooster, omg, the rooster was freaking hilarious.

Firstly, to address in no uncertain terms the allergy issue. (Last chance to avoid SPOILERS)

Allergies, especially life-threatening ones, are ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO BE JOKED ABOUT.

But that’s not what the movie did. It didn’t even come CLOSE to that, so I really question where the hell the idea I saw on Twitter originally came from.

I have allergies, my kids have allergies, and though none of ours are life-threatening, they are not a thing to take lightly.

We as the viewer are made aware that one of the main characters, Thomas McGregor/Domhnall Gleeson, has a life-threatening allergy (anaphylactic reaction, his throat closes up/he can’t breath) to blackberries). I recognized him from Star Wars, not Harry Potter, that’s how bad of a fan-by I am for anything Harry Potter. (I really don’t care for HP, don’t sue me, I’m broke.)

The title character Peter overhears that Domhnall’s character/Thomas McGregor (who is the descendant of the nasty McGregor from the Beatrix Potter tales, acted, superbly by Sam Neill) tell the love interest of the story that he’s allergic to blackberries.

This is a very multi-layered story peeps. It’s a romance, on top of, and perhaps MORE THAN anything else. Despite it being a kids movie. (So if you’re ARO/aromantic, maybe avoid this one, it hits all the points of ‘love is everything’.)

Now. Peter RABBIT is much more than a Rabbit. He’s clever, he’s wiley, he’s a freaking asshole.

He’s also coping with the death of both parents and being the eldest brother to his three sisters.

Thomas McGregor is just as broken in his different but similar ways.

So when Old McGregor has a heart attack chasing Peter in the garden (MASSIVE CONTENT WARNING ON DIETARY JUDGEMENT CALLS) the lands, manor home, and gardens (charmingly represented true to form to what I recall of Beatrix’s paintings and stories) it passes to Thomas.

Via the trope of an unexpected inheritance.

Thomas goes to the manor and finds it filled with animals, which you can see in the trailers.

Lolz, he screams so very well. My goodness.

Anyway, the allergy issue comes into play when after many shenanigans, Peter and Thomas get to the point of trying to kill one another for real.

Thomas is ACTUALLY trying to KILL the rabbits, Peter is defending, what he regards at this point, as both his beloved mama (the love interest, Bea. played by Rose Byrne) and his lands (which Thomas McGregor, in the way of humans, owns).

I don’t know about you? But if someone is trying to kill ME AND MY FAMILY, allergies would be fair game as a weapon.

You can feel free to disagree with me on that? But this great big human with a hate-on for wildlife is coming after me, I know he’s allergic to blackberries, I’m going to slingshot them into his mouth at the first bloody opportunity.

It was NOT as it’s been portrayed on Twitter.

There is a graphic reaction to allergies, and Thomas has to scramble for his Epi-pen.

He survives, and (unrealistically) tears ass after Peter again.

Not for funnsies. For self-defense. And honestly? If you’re the abusive type who says I/a character can’t use ANY weapon against someone trying to KILL YOU AND YOUR FAMILY as self-defense, I’m not a person you want to have something to do with.

Now on to the rest of the movie.

This is a romance! I didn’t expect that, and yeah, if the whole ‘love cures all ills’ aspect that allos love to shove down our throats at every opportunity bothers you, don’t see it. I’m grey-aro, but all it does *to me* is make me roll my eyes.

It’s actually a sweet romance with elements of fuck-it-all-up and still redeem it at the end.

Which surprised the hell out of me. The actors really did a superb job with that too. (It’s sweet, so there’s no sex/sexual tension to avoid for my asexual peeps as well.) Content warning on one awkward kiss.

Peter is VERY  Americanized for a British childhood story character. BUT, to be clear, the story of the movie takes place after the death of Peter’s mother-bunny. I never really read the Beatrix Potter stories as a kid, (books were such a luxury to us, we were THAT poor) but I think the fresh take helped, it’s a continuation of the tales. (I could be totally wrong, never actually read them.) Rather than a retelling.

The animation for the animal characters was freaking phenomenal and the movie is worth seeing JUST for that.

I’ve been around since before Roger Rabbit (Gods, some of you are so young you’re not going to know what I mean.) So here is some of the style… youtube of the animations of Roger Rabbit.

Compared to many of its predecessors, Peter Rabbit stands out, it’s amazing as per the melding creativity of live action and animation.

There were several lines in the film that made me slightly uncomfortable as a domestic abuse survivor, and I wasn’t happy with how Peter treated his sisters. (Seriously, when are writers going to learn to develop ALL of their characters as well as they do the primary ones?)

Writing wise? This is a damned good film.

Acting wise? Freaking phenomenal, I might be a fan of Domhnall’s now.

Creativity/animation wise? AMAZING.

American humour? Gods could we please find a different way? (I’m American btw, even if I’m expat.)

So. In short (hah! I can’t write short to save my life, and yes I amuse myself) that’s what I thought of Peter Rabbit.

Twitter was wrong, it was a good movie and my kid loved it.

New Book Review: DARKLING by Brooklyn Ray

Queer, Paranormal Romance, Novella, Translit

Darkling-f500

Pub date January 8, 2018

BLURB:

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.

Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.

Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.

Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.

REVIEW:

I received an ARC of this book via the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

I loved it so much.

I fell absolutely in love with the main character, Ryder. My gods, did I ever fall fast for him. Almost everything was perfect about this novella, characterization, pacing, the plot driving the sex… so much is so perfect and I’ll definitely be looking for more work by this author.

Content warning for blood exchange, cutting, and animal death. SPOILER: The last is okay, promise, he comes back.)

Things I loved:

The author didn’t screw up my faith: I’m a witch, both by bloodline/tradition and by choice of faith, and I can’t tell you the number of books and stories I’ve read/seen that get it wrong, harmfully wrong, sometimes. (Stop and think about it, how many books and shows use a pentacle for a fast an easy way of saying something is evil? When it’s actually the exact opposite?) This book deals heavily in the occult, paganism, magic and the author got it RIGHT! I grinned several times seeing my faith depicted well in the pages of this book.

On page consent: This is a HUGE plus for me, and I often mark a book lower in the stars department if it’s not there. If your characters are having sex, you have to write consent or indicate a conversation has happened that shows consent has been clearly, ideally verbally if physically possible, given. (NO EXCEPTIONS other than dubcon in a first-person PoV when you’re IN the character’s head and you, as the reader, KNOW they want it. Writing consent on the page and demanding it be there in our love stories is how we break down rape culture, you have to have it on the page.) Consent is sexy. It’s there in this book. I loved that.

The writing: By now, if you follow my reviews, you know that I’m extremely picky about writing. I have no issue what-so-ever with DNFing (Do Not Finish) a book. There are millions of books out there, my time is precious and I don’t read what I don’t at least like. Being an editor in my day-job means I’m INCREDIBLY picky about writing skill.

The use of language is rich, but not over the top. The description is AMAZING, I could smell the coffee and feel the mist on my skin, feel the cat’s fur and really get into the sex scenes. (Lolz, they did their job, put it like that.)

Ray has an excellent ability to write evocatively, and that is one of my favorite things in reading. If an author can transport me into their world for a few hours? I’m there. As I’ve come to expect from NineStar Press titles, the editing is top notch. I think I caught one homonym error in 33k plus words. That’s it.

On page representation of a non-binary character who uses they/them pronouns. It’s a secondary character, and there’re only a few lines, but the way the gender-neutral language is presented as a matter of course and automatically accepted is amazing. I loved it.

Trans masc main character: The character’s gender, even with graphic sex, is handled so smoothly and beautifully that YES, YES, YES. I rarely see trans romance written this well. I’m so grateful there’s more and more of it that I can get into my greedy little paws. Mirror books (the books I can see myself in) are so hard to find, and so very precious. I also really enjoyed it that the story wasn’t even remotely ABOUT him being trans. He’s trans, it’s fact, the story is about something else (and wow, what an amazing ride it was)!

On page rep of a bi/pansexual guy: I read the love-interest character, Liam as being bi, which makes him a bi guy with on page rep, another thing that I loved a lot. I can’t pinpoint a line that made me think he is bi, and it’s possible he’s gay instead, but either way, he’s wonderful. (I have a huge crush on Liam, too.)

It’s dark: The younger the characters, the darker the book has to be to rope me in. This book would technically fall under New Adult (the main characters are in their early 20s) and it’s extremely dark and delicious. I adored it.

It’s deliciously sexy: Yes, I’m ace (asexual) but I’m also autochorisexual, so I LOVE to read/write about sex. There’s a lot of hot, plot-driven, slightly kinky sex in Darkling. More please!

Things I had a problem with (and why this is a four-point-five-star review instead of a five-star, the writing and story are definitely five-star quality, even in my VERY persnickety opinion.

No safe sex discussion: I’m a former sexuality educator, I’m kinky, pansexual, polyamorous, and I write both erotic romance and erotica.

I had to dock a fantastic story with excellent writing half a review star because there was NO discussion of safe sex anywhere. Nothing about contraception (Ryder uses what I believe are testosterone shots, but it’s not discussed with Liam as anything other than a painful shot, and trans men can still become pregnant on testosterone therapy.)

There is nothing about STD protection, they don’t use condoms, or dams, or finger cots, so yeah. It lost half a star on this point alone, because that stuff is IMPORTANT.

When we write sex, we need to keep things like this in mind. The first place a LOT of people first encounter sex, (safe sex, consensual sex, kinky sex, ANY sex) is in written form. We as authors have a responsibility to be aware of that. We ALL need to be writing safe sex into stories that need it. The lack of discussion completely threw me out of enjoying the story.

Which stories need it? All of them. Unless there is an on-page reason for it not to be needed (IE: Some SFF stories have species that are immune to STDs/are sterile) if that’s stated somewhere, fine, safe sex talk not needed.

Historical and fairy-tale retelling fantasy type stories have a LITTLE wiggle room on this, but it should still be there because our ancestors knew about STDs, avoided them as much as we do, and condoms and sheaths were invented well before the 18th century, we have some records saying they went back to Egyptian times. So I’d still like to see it in historical.

In a contemporary book of ANY kind, there needs to be a safe sex discussion ON PAGE, or there needs to be mention that a safe sex discussion HAS OCCURRED between the lovers. In speculative fiction like paranormal? You could probably even come up with a reason it wouldn’t be needed, but then the reason needs to be stated.

Now. In Darkling, the two main characters have been friends for two years, so maybe they knew one another’s status, but *I* don’t discuss that with my friends as a matter of course, it just doesn’t come up, and the way the relationship is presented (friends to lovers) makes me disbelieve that they would’ve known. GETTING TESTED IS SEXY, have your characters talk about it.

I still really loved the book and I do HIGHLY recommend it. 🙂

SCORES

Readability: 5/5 star-1586412_1920 I’ve been ill, so haven’t been as easily beguiled by reading as I usually would have been with a book of this caliber. I fell in love with Ryder by the end of chapter one, and usually, I would’ve ripped through this book in a sitting. Instead, I lapped it up slowly, like good chocolate. It’s excellent.

ARCS: 5/5 star-1586412_1920 Story arc, plot arc, relationship arc, they’re all believable, well written and wonderful, my only complaint is that I wish the story had been longer! I hope the author has more to come.

Craft: 4/5 star-1586412_1920 Fantastic, evocative writing. Excellent editing, on par with other NineStar Press titles. Pacing was perfect, the plot drove the sex (something that not all erotic romance can boast of) and the only issue I had was lack of on-page STD/contraception discussion (with no spec fic/SFF reason to preclude its necessity).

Do give this book a read, it’s well worth the purchase price. A coffee costs more.

Buy from the publisher if you’re buying an e-copy, the author and publisher get more money that way, meaning they can keep bringing you more amazing books.

Amazon

Goodreads

Social media, New followers, Reviews and related STUFF.

You can tell, based on how chatty I’ve been lately on both my blog and social media that I’m stalled on drafting my WIP.

I’ll get back there when life calms down a little bit more.

I need to say a few things that might be of use to peeps, given the increased numbers of new followers who’ve found me lately.

I’ll be brief (fine, I’ll try, don’t hold your breath).

A) I don’t habitually follow back. I’ve dealt with A LOT of harassment, mostly through Twitter, but also through facebook and my blog. I don’t even check my notifications for who has followed me or unfollowed me anymore.

I do check to see if a mutual *we both follow one another* unfollows, but as for new follows? I don’t even look.

Two reasons, I gain/lose upwards of 20 new followers daily, so I’d be a lot more swamped than I already am keeping up with social media if I auto-followed.

If you are someone who needs a follow back to feel okay with a relationship with me, I can’t really promise that? I respond to almost all @s on Twitter (unless I miss the notification, I hang in my mentions, not all-notifications, so I usually do see them) emails, etc, but I get it if that’s not enough for people.

The best way to get my attention is to talk at me a lot.

Like… a LOT. If, over time I feel we click, then I may eventually follow back.

I might not though. Because secondarily, I try to keep the numbers of accounts I follow lower because my feed is an absolute mess. I don’t see the peeps I want to see and talk with if I have too many peeps I follow. I tend to go through and do a semi-regular clean out of inactive accounts and people I haven’t connected with on a social sense as well. If I have to ask myself who the hell you are? You probably have an unfollow coming, even if we’re mutuals.

B) It used to really hurt me if a mutual unfollowed me. These days, if we haven’t connected in a social sense, godspeed and I wish you well. It’s really okay. You can go on and not have anything to do with me. I will unfollow you though. I’m not in this for a numbers game.

My one addendum on that is that if you’re an author, and we’ve been mutuals, I can promise I won’t be pushing your work anymore, nor will I be buying. There’s a bit of a professional give and take with an author/author relationship.

I’ll also notice if I’m the only one pushing your work, and you’re not pushing mine. I have a varied reading palate, not everyone does, so I get it, but if you want ME to be helping push your work, you gotta scratch my back, too. (lolz, doesn’t apply to super famous authors that I adore. I’m just thrilled y’all are following and talking to me, that’s more for authors who are around my same level of publication history. Though if we’ve been mutuals and suddenly we’re not, I’ll probably stop buying your books. Only cause it hurt me that that happened, and I probably didn’t understand the why.)

Just the way I’m wired. I’m contrary, I own it.

C) Please Please Please don’t @ me on twitter with your books unless I ASK for a link. It’s not quite a blocking offense, but I REALLY don’t like it.

I’m contrary by nature, so the second you do that? I can almost guarantee I won’t be reading it.

Same goes for sending me an email and asking me to pimp your book on my blog/buy your book to read for review.

Really people? No. Just no. Firstly, I think this probably violates spamming laws.

Secondly (and I’m not talking a review request, that’s a completely different animal) I’m not made of money. 99.9% of the books I read are ARC copies or from the library. I can’t afford to buy books by authors I KNOW I love. Why in the world would people think that I’m going to spend money on their books, just so I can review them? I don’t get it.

That’s not how reviewing works.

The way reviewing works is that you send me the book for free, AFTER asking if I might be interested in it, and AFTER reading my review policy to make sure it’s fine by you.

You don’t ask me to buy your book so I can review it. Nope.

Lolz, yes, this happens, A LOT.

You might be surprised at how often that happens.

Finally, if you’ve in any way been responsible for harassing me? (Subtweeting counts, especially if you’ve used my name or description, because you know? That actually IS legally harassment) you can consider yourself blocked and blacklisted FOREVER (or until you apologize).

Since most people who end up harassing me are doing it through an ableist lense, welp, I figure I’ll be in my grave before they confront their ableism and apologize for fucking up.

But, that’s really neither here nor there.

So that’s my social media update in a nutshell.

Guess I was long winded after all.