Cover Reveal: STAKE SAUCE by RoAnna Sylver

Today I’m helping reveal the cover for STAKE SAUCE ARC 1: THE SECRET INGREDIENT IS LOVE, NO, REALLY! It’s a fun, creepy, and dark-but-hopeful serial about queer punk vampires and the humans who love them, from RoAnna Sylver, author of the CHAMELEON MOON series. STAKE SAUCE releases October 31st, 2017 from The Kraken Collective! Check out the cover and learn more below – including how to pre-order and get a free short story, and exclusive bonus content!

 

The cover was designed and drawn by the author… and references this classic Dracula cover. Vampires then and now!

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STAKE SAUCE ARC 1:

THE SECRET INGREDIENT IS LOVE. NO, REALLY.

IN WHICH: A cute punk-rock vampire and a disabled firefighter-turned-mall-cop with a dark past join forces to battle the forces of evil.

Jude used to leap out of helicopters to rescue/protect people from terrifying infernos. Now, by day, he protects the local mall from rowdy teenagers who ride their skateboards inside. By night, he protects the the parking lot, and the rest of Portland, from undead, bloodsucking creatures of the darkness. Or would if he could find them.

But he’s just about ready to give it up (living with PTSD and pain from the traumatic event that cost him a leg, a friend, and a lot more is hard enough), when something crashes into his life. And his window.

It’s one of these creatures of the darkness – and he’s a lot less scary than expected. More cuddly, with dark fuzzy wings, and neon-bright hair.

His name is Pixie, and he refuses to bite anyone. Assault/murder/draining fluids isn’t punk, even if being a vampire really kind of is. He’s very hungry by now, and the much bigger, meaner, deadlier vamps kick him around on the nightly. Jude would love to find and fight some actual undead bullies. And Pixie could use some help staying… ‘alive.’ Time to make a deal.

Together they fight crime. And maybe even heal.

Of course, life still sucks when you’re a vampire who refuses to suck blood. Fortunately, there’s a really interesting new barbecue restaurant in the mall, with an intriguing new recipe. (We hear that the secret ingredient is… love. No, really.)

Add Stake Sauce Arc 1 to your Goodreads!

PRE-ORDER BONUS AND EXCLUSIVE CONTENT:

Pre-order the full first arc (containing 6 acts/parts!) on Gumroad, and get a free short story, What We Learned In The Fire! This takes place before the main book, and will introduce you to some super important people and… things. Stake Sauce Arc 1 releases October 31st; Happy Halloween!

Stake Sauce is also available (or soon will be, some distributors are pending) for pre-order from Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Google Play, and Kobo, as well as other retailers, but these do not carry the pre-order bonus story!

 SUBSCRIBE ON PATREON AND GET TONS OF EXCLUSIVE STAKE SAUCE BONUS CONTENT AND EARLY RELEASES!

FIND THE AUTHOR ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Gumroadhttps://gumroad.com/roannasylver

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Nuance

Twitter is a very angry place today.

It’s a nuanced issue and I have words. I’ll do my best to lay my very complicated thoughts and emotions out in a reasoned fashion.

Here’s the reason twitter is angry today. Vulture published an article that… was rather skewed in its perception. (It’s the politest way I can say that.) I knew about the person writing the article months ago, they were going around asking for interviews. Thank goodness Nicky provided screenshots so Vulture doesn’t get any more clicks than necessary. (Shared with Nicky’s permission)

https://twitter.com/nickyoflaherty/status/894600015083130880/photo/1

I don’t suppose twitter being angry again is anything new, at all.

Over the weekend, I had to block a bunch of angry people who preach the same, sad, angry speech over and over and over again with regards to aroace issues. I’m done listening.

Blogged about it here.

And today, we’re back to (re: race issues, YA book twitter and reviewing) seeing the same people performing the same ridiculous performative activism. No, I ain’t gonna link them. They’re already on my publishing blacklist anyway. You’ll see a lot of them who look/claim to be white shouting that it’s wrong to want ‘old twitter’ back.

Today’s anger is in relation to race, reviews and the above linked article.

Over the weekend it was aroace.

Before that is was neurodiversity, before that it was queerphobia, before that mental illness/psychiatric disorder and I’m seeing inklings that it’s going to be transphobia next.

The problem is so nuanced and multifaceted that I wonder if maybe I’m one of the few seeing it? I mean… I’m so intersectionally diverse it’s almost impossible to believe. I’m plugged into a lot of communities just by virtue of being who I am.

I’m queer as fuck, I’m autistic, I’m mentally ill, I’m chronically ill with a chronic pain condition, and I’m mixed-race. (Mostly First Nations, Spanish/Portuguese and Mixed white European, but I have quite a few black ancestors too.)

The problem with twitter that is ruining ‘book twitter’ and why braver people are saying they miss the old one is this: It’s the anger people.

Not about the subject matter.

It’s about what makes REAL activism, and the ‘performing for ally cookies’ sort of activism.

I ask, in the light of all that’s going down, who are you shouting for? Why are you shouting?

If it’s the YA book twitter group, you’re very likely doing it wrong, cause they’re afraid. More on that later.

Several threads shared on twitter offer VERY salient point.

We don’t have people in their own communities (ANY of the diverse communities I’m part of) coming to collect the pretenders and me-too-ists and harmful (possibly well meaning?) people. We also don’t have people in our own communities willing to collect the loud, angry, confrontational, or outright dangerous people.

I tried, with the aroace discussion recently. I ended up having to block people because they were interested only in being angry, not in actually listening or in working for change. They wanted to shout, and flail and have things EXACTLY AS THEY WANTED IT.

They weren’t interested in working for change. They were interested in shouting until *I* backed down. Because I didn’t agree with them.

I got called names, gaslighted, and ganged up on. BY PEOPLE IN (one of) MY OWN COMMUNITIES!

So I ended up blocking.

I’m older, I remember a time when I was young and fired up and thinking the only way to make my voice heard was to shout and demand things.

Change needs to happen. YES. In SO MANY areas of publishing, in book twitter, in life. Change NEEDS to happen. I need it to happen, not just for me, but for my kids. Mixed race, autistic, possibly queer, likely… after the world gets done chewing them up and spitting them out… mentally ill adults they’ll someday be… and for my grandkids too, if I have any. All of the children and grandchildren of those generations. Those are the people *I’m* fighting for. Future generations. Not me, so much as the ones who will come after me.

Seven generations. A bastardized quote, but one worthy of thought in this context.

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”

The seventh generation principle comes, we believe, from The Iroquois Confederacy.

I do know it’s a very important part of my life-path. To think ahead to future generations in all that I do.

Environment, relationships, all of it.

Because THAT is who I’m fighting and educating for.

Not me.

It’s also a principle I try to follow that I need to have peace in my heart and a thick skin, so that I don’t act unwisely.

You may have heard me use the phrase “I need to sit with this”.

That usually means I’m angry, and I need to step back and away, to ‘sit with it’ until I can respond or speak in a way that won’t negatively impact others.

For reading, if you’re so inclined. Do a search for ‘seven’ and read those passages.

The Great Binding Law GAYANASHAGOWA

It’s part of why I stick on twitter, because a lot of people say they learn things from me that they don’t learn from anyone else. I have a patreon, I could confine my education to that area only like some people have done. (If you find any of my blogs or threads helpful/educational, even a dollar a month can help me so much. You’ve no idea how badly I need the help!!)

I’m not going to.

The angry atmosphere on twitter is driving people away. That is fact.

It’s not helping to educate. Shouting angrily, bullying, gaslighting, and being harmful enough to drive people away is not going to cause that badly needed change. No matter WHAT the area you personally need to have change happen in, anger is not going to get you there.

People doing the actual work are. The ones who reach out to someone (again, NO MATTER WHAT THE TOPIC IS) and say the hard thing to them…

IE: That is racist, that is bullying, that is queerphobic, that is harming other aroace people and making us afraid to talk, that is (insert harmful behavior here).

I’ve seen so many white authors dashing off a quick tweet today parroting that it’s wrong to miss old book twitter because it shuts down the conversation. (I’d really love to know if they call-in other white authors when they’re being problematic, or if they just dash off those tweets when the marginalized communities are harmed.)

But you know? It’s not wrong to miss old book twitter. I disagree with everything in me. With anyone saying it’s wrong to miss the old book twitter. That’s… not how this is supposed to work y’all.

I’m marginalized.

And YES. I miss old book twitter.

I only caught the tail end of it, because I didn’t discover twitter until Jan of 2015. I still saw a much more uplifting, educational, and supportive atmosphere then than I do now.

When the atmosphere of twitter drives people TRYING TO DO BETTER away. When it drives the marginalized youth you claim to be fighting for AWAY… Then the atmosphere is the problem. Not ‘missing old book twitter’. Missing old book twitter is not about shutting down conversation and education. It just isn’t. I don’t know why I’m one of the few people who seem to feel that way.

If people can’t make mistakes, and earnestly apologize, try to learn better and do better… what the hell is the point of trying to educate at all?

If your only point is to sic your followers on an author who didn’t know better… welp, maybe the problem is as much YOU as the author.

If you’re called out for doing something wrong, (gods, I feel like a broken record here) you say “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I’m listening.” Then you sit the fuck down and you listen!

Then you try to do better with what you hopefully know.

I do notice who says they’re sorry and tries to do better, and who doesn’t. So does everyone else.

There’ve been threads (If you go to my twitter you can see which ones I retweeted, I’m not really a journalist, but considering the flagrant abuse of journalists that spawned these posts, I’m not going to link without permission. Sadly, I’m too afraid to ask for that permission of the two people I’d most like to link.)

I’ve also been bullied and harassed (through DMs, my blog contact form, and my email). I’ve had people lie to me, or subtly threaten to out my legal name and my husband’s and kids names as well if I don’t do what they want me to do. (To be clear, I don’t use my legal name cause it’s my dead name, so having it show up in an email hurt me. I don’t even use it in real life unless it’s on legal paperwork where I have to.) THIS name is my ‘real’ name. This is the real me.

Here is a thread I did for helping people consider if they’re being a bully or no.

Now, that vulture article that stirred up the hurt and rage on twitter today? It’s about the YA book community, and race, and attacking reviewers. I do suggest you read it in full and draw your own conclusions about it.

I’ll say something here I’ve been afraid to say elsewhere: I’m SO GLAD I don’t write YA. It’s not really in my skill set and I’m so grateful for that. I don’t even want to dip a toe in that shark infested lake.

I’ve got a partially finished YA memoir. I’ll never likely finish it because the very idea of swimming in the blood-chummed waters of YA twitter make me never want to consider it.

That has nothing to do with the young adults themselves. It has everything to do with adults and scary, noisy, angry saviors who purport to be defending and protecting the very people they supposedly write for.

Young adults are some of the most awesome people I’m privileged to know. They are much better people, by and large, than I was at their ages. The thing that keeps me from writing YA? (Aside from my lack of skill at it) Is that it’s not the Young Adult Voices who get listened to.

Nope. Not even close. It’s self-appointed ‘saviors’ of young adults (again, doesn’t matter the marginalization, I’ve seen it over and over again through many different diverse communities). They’re ANGRY saviors too.

Thought experiment from sociology classes:

  1. The last time someone yelled in your face, did you *actually* hear the point they were trying to make?
  2. If someone bullied you, did you learn from them? Or did you try to get away?
  3. If someone has bullied or yelled at you more than once, will you EVER actually listen to them or their point?

No? Hunh. Imagine that.

Young Adults by and large (I follow quite a few now,  after a particular dust up where they came out in droves to shout down an angry savior. I’m following teens and young adults because I’M LISTENING TO THEM.) They are afraid to speak up on twitter because of the outraged adults.

The ones doing the harm here, it’s not the young adults. It’s the angry saviors and their hangers-on claiming (again, no matter which marginalized community we’re talking about) to be ‘protecting’ the ‘helpless young adults’.

Now, I don’t know about you? But I HATED to be talked over by adults when I was a young adult.

Seems to me, mourning old twitter isn’t about wanting the conversation to die so much as wanting a safe place for conversations and reviews to be shared. I want people on twitter to sit with it until they know their facts and their emotions well before they take to twitter and rant.

I want it to be a safe place for teens and young adults to share their thoughts and experiences without getting shouted down. I want it to remain a place where people can (if they choose to provide the free education) continue to share educational threads.  Where reviews can be shared. Where a well-thought out call-out can happen and where the one called out thinks and listens about the issue, then apologizes.

That’s what I want from book twitter.

But then, maybe I’m just too old, depressed and sad about seeing something that used to be really good going down the drain because of a few, angry saviors with huge followings.

Don’t, maybe… be that person who sees someone shouting about something (even if they’re shouting for a good cause, a needed change) and become a me-too-ist. There aren’t any ally cookies. There really aren’t.

There’s a distinct difference between educational threads, shared experiences and the angry saviorism. If you can’t recognize it… maybe think about that.

If you’re NOT doing the work to call-in problematical angry saviors AS WELL AS the problematic people who may be well meaning and who might make mistakes (again, no matter the marginalization) maybe just STFU and leave the work to those of us who do.

Consider this a call out to the angry saviors and the me-too-ists.

You’re not part of the solution. You’re part of the problem.

 

Buy Me a Coffee

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and Paypal  and Skrill email addy is kaelan.rhywiol@gmail.com

Help me keep providing content, and you know, eating?

Amazon Wishlist too.

Multifarious Press

Welp, cat is officially out of the bag on this one. So, some words.

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The idea to found Multifarious Press smacked me like a freight train a little over a year ago. Remember I’ve been writing for a long time, editing for almost as long.

I discovered writer-twitter and the wonderful (and horrible) world it can be roughly two years ago.

Through that medium, I’ve met some amazing authors, many diverse, wonderful voices that have honored me by letting me read their words.

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I’d been chatting with an author who felt their chances for a book they’d written had been lost because the diverse voice was too real.

An autistic voice. Like my own.

Silenced.

My soul cried out at that, because I need more adult autistic voice stories, and this one might never see the light of day.

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In the two years I’ve been talking with authors on twitter, I’ve also seen so many diverse authors quit.

They stopped trying.

They stopped writing.

I’ve been working behind the scenes with my editors and web developer to get this fledgling press up and running for close to a year. From the seed of an idea to figuring out how we’ll work it all to getting people I trust to do what they’ll say they’ll do… it’s been a journey.

We’re all parents and people with lives and jobs and difficulties so you could say there were a few potholes.

But I am not going anywhere.

I’ll be honest, I’m bloody terrified that people won’t think I can do this, that they’ll think… unkind things about me, when all I want to do is help others like me. Diverse Voices.

One thing I’ve been accused of being a time or million is stubborn. Once I choose a piece of ground to stand for, I’ve been likened to a donkey with its feet planted in cement.

This is my ground.

I may not have a lot of experience with publishing, but by gods, I know how to get stories out there. I know how to edit and make covers and market. I know sales like the back of my hand because that was my career for the longest time.

If the world really wants diversity? (I think it does…) this press has a chance to open those doors to those authors who quit because they feel they’ll never make it in publishing.

I can make a difference.

I will. I will be the change in the world that I want to see.

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Go here for the Submissions Guidelines or check out the Multifarious Press website. 

Addendum post: https://kaelanrhywiol.com/2017/04/14/why-xxx-for-multifarious/

Chickens with Pitchforks

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So many thinky thoughts, so many emotions and me, a writer, not being able to come up with a coherent way of saying them all. Some of this emotion is likely from how shitty my day to day life is right now. I have untreated fibromyalgia (long story, not getting into it) and I’m moving house, downsizing in an unwanted move to a much smaller place and my two kids are coming down with another round of ‘public school plague’, so some of this emotion is from that. Most of it has been boiling for a while and I’ve been too afraid to say anything because I feared judgment. If another author can say publicly, that they won’t let down their bad ass female ancestors by being afraid. I can woman up and not be afraid to speak my truth either. I WANT THE PAIN TO STOP.

I’m not talking about my fibro pain. I’m a farm girl, raised around animals and there’s this trait I saw a lot of growing up. Ugly duckling, odd chick behavior. It’s basically where birds will, for some reason, decide to pick on a member of the flock until it dies.

The publishing community on twitter the past couple of months are acting like a bunch of chickens. Pick, pick picking at one another until the weaker bird dies. Now, I’ve written theses, I can hazard a guess about the psychology behind it, tension, stress about the election, brexit, et cetera.

You know… it’s something humans do too. It’s called bullying, maybe a bit of gaslighting.

I call it witch hunting. (I’m pagan, have been most of my life, I use the term with knowledge and respect for the fallen, ’cause y’all know what? Many of you are acting like the inquisition here.)

One thing I cannot, and will not, ever lie down for is bullying. If this post burns me bridges, or brings me grief because I’m brave enough to point at an unpleasant truth in a group of people who ought to freaking know better? Bring it. (Seriously, I’m not spoiling for a fight like a lot of people seem to be doing these days, but I will defend myself and other people.)

To be clear, this is not brought on by any one situation, there have been nine incidences (that I’m personally aware of, pretty sure there’re more) with different people involved, with different topics addressed over the past several months. I’m plugged into a lot of communities, just because of who I am. There’ve been issues about pansexuality, religious faith, PoC, cultural (mis)representation, and tone policing to just mention a few. So I am not pointing at any ONE person or topic or incident. Though yes, why I’m saying something now is because of the reaction to the book THE CONTINENT.

Firstly: *I* have not read the book. Neither have most of you. Which kinda calls into question the omfg issues revolving around it. One well respected and well thought out person has read it and commented upon it. In a critique which, given who it was, I have to assume is accurate. I respect the person who critiqued it. I may not always agree with the methodology or opinions of this person, but the knowledge, viewpoint and critique? That I respect, a lot. I rather hope #TheContinent isn’t that bad, but as soon as I can finish this move and regain some sense of equilibrium-I have an ARC-I’ll read it and review it. Honestly and from my perspective as an educated, marginalized, author of mixed ethnicity.

I also know the person who wrote the book is a debut author. Aren’t we supposed to be doing our utmost as writers/authors/publishing professionals to support debut authors? Even the ones who make mistakes?

I have so many thoughts and emotions about this. (I’ve been writing this most of the day when I needed to be working on my book or packing.) I’ll try for cohesion, so that when/if I’m attacked, I’ll have my receipts. You’ll note that despite me working damned hard on wording this correctly, without censure of any one person or incident that I’m Expecting To Be Attacked. That is the feeling of the writer community on twitter right now, (it wasn’t when I joined up) and that goes out in ripples to the whole of the authorial community.

Diversity: I am passionate about all forms of diversity. Always have been. I’m a staunch supporter of being who you are, all of who you are. I will always be an advocate. We are each of us human, each of us learning, growing, beautiful individuals. Do we make mistakes? We’re human, of course we do. I’m damned worried posting this is a mistake, so much so I’ve had people vet it before I click publish. (I’ve never, ever done that before w/a blog post.) Thing is, I can’t respect myself if I DON’T say something. So. To the meat of it.

  1. Passing. I pass damned well, it gives me privilege others descended from the same bloodlines and cultures as me don’t have. But. I’m. Still. Passing. I’m aware that I’m passing, and it absolutely kills something in me when we run into racist/neurodiverse issues in publishing, in all forms of entertainment. It’s like I’m torn in half. The part of me that is *me* from the part of me everyone else *sees*. Go ahead, look at the profile pic. Look white, don’t I? I’m not. Unless skin tone is all that matters. (Whoa now, if that isn’t a shock, I dunno what could be. Skin tone as a social control? Nah. Couldn’t happen among thinking humanoid type critters.) But, if the way I look is all that matters,  well… that’s prejudicial. It kills something in me to hear another gifted writer saying they KNOW they have very little chance of traditional publication. It’s something I know very well because I feel it myself, even if the reasons are different. They’re Native, but they keep writing anyway… Then the same writer has their heart broken because of the (possibly, *I* haven’t read it. I *don’t* prejudge) racist YA book that will soon be published. To hear her pain. Lord and Lady, it’s like an emotional wound inside of me. Because she speaks about her pain, about those dark and nasty thoughts I’ve had myself… (the ones that are grateful that my kids pass too ’cause they have First Nations ancestry from both their dad and me?? Because they have African ancestors through me? Yeah, those thoughts. I don’t obey those thoughts, I won’t be a coward. I teach my kids as much as I know about all of their ancestors, but I still have the thoughts. A symptom of the world we live in.)
  2. I have not read the book, I intend to, because I cannot make an informed opinion about anything without, ya know… informing myself. It’s a thing, yeah?
  3. I pass as being neurotypical too. I’m not what most people think of when they think ‘autistic’. SPOILER, most of us aren’t. If you know 50 people, you know someone who is passing autistic. You know someone who struggles, every second of every day to understand how other ‘normal’ people work.
  4. On the other side of this fence, a good friend of mine is incredibly saddened because they know the author in question… my friend tells me they are a good person…
  5. If someone is saying, ‘This hurts.’ You don’t say, ‘that’s not the way it is, you’re viewing it wrong.’ There’s a definition for that and it’s called gaslighting.
  6. Being a good person, with good intentions does not relieve you of responsibility. If, for instance, you write YA books, you have to be concerned, always, with the kids who will be reading your work. You. Need. To. Be. Aware. Words can hurt, they can kill. We need to use ours wisely. This ALSO goes for those with influence, those who speak out and are respected for doing so. Who may feed people to their following, knowing damned well what will happen. I see you. It does not give you (no matter the color of your skin, or your ancestors or, or, or…) the right to harm or gaslight anyone. If someone says… ‘this hurts, please stop’ the ONLY answer is ‘I’m so sorry. I will listen, I will do better.’ Even if you don’t understand what you did wrong. Even if your cultural understanding isn’t aware or awake enough yet to know how badly you effed up. Someone says ‘OUCH’, you say ‘I’m sorry’. I mean, didn’t we all learn this in kindergarten?
  7. In case it needs to be said. I. AM. SAYING. OUCH. PLEASE. STOP.
  8. I’m talking to the writers, the publishing professionals, and you. Yeah. I’m looking at you, my reader. Maybe you personally haven’t done anything that I need to say ouch about. Maybe you’ve never done a blessed thing to hurt another human, but… maybe you have. Only you know.
  9. This one… I honestly can’t believe I even have to say it. I’ve worked for fortune 500s, I’ve brokered million dollar deals when I sold stuff (software if it matters) to the US gov’t. I’ve been in NOAA’s headquarters and I’ve visited Fort Knox, I’ve dined w/ the US Secretary of Energy. I’m not sharing that info to brag. I was miserable in that job; I’m sharing it for perspective. So when you read the next bit, you’ll understand exactly where I’m coming from. ANY. Other. Industry. Would be bloody, fucking, appalled by this behavior. I am NOT calling out one particular person, many people do it…  I am talking about something that borders on breach of privacy. It’s not ‘quite’ there, but it’s like when you smell a campfire and then feel the flame. The issue? Sharing of private DMs/videos/emails. Don’t do it. Private correspondence is private, it’s not meant for public consumption and no, sharing it isn’t right no matter how justified you feel you are in doing so. I don’t care who you are or what your motivation is to do such a thing. Same goes with taking tweets and emails and things said out of context and using them as fuel in your own personal crusade. I’ve seen quite a bit of that lately too and I’m tired of it. There aren’t many ‘issue’ crusades that don’t apply to me too. Do you see *me* doing that? I find it extremely distasteful and unprofessional. (Most everyone else does too. Just to let you know.)
  10. Mental Health: (#ownvoices on that topic, among others) Did you know it falls into the category of being a bully to call someone out for using mental health issues as a tool? When. You. Don’t. Know. The. Person. Or. What. They. Deal. With? The person I’m thinking of didn’t say a damned word about that book. They were accused of sub-tweeting, and racism and omg… WHAT THEY SAID was, ahem (I should stop shouting, but I feel it may be warranted)  don’t discount mental health issues. That person talks about their own struggles FREQUENTLY.  Jaysus. I’m sick to my stomach that so much that should be bringing us together, forming bridges, is being used as tools in dividing us.
  11. You know what? You don’t get to tell someone else they aren’t struggling, no matter what the color of their skin is, the state of their brain or their lifestyle. No matter what color YOUR skin is, or the state of YOUR brain, or what lifestyle you (hopefully) enjoy. You just don’t have that right. Even if you’re marginalized, you still don’t get to say it. See Gaslighting. I’d love to call out the names and say… hey there bully! Whas’up! We meet again… it’d be sooo nice if you’d stop. I choose to not do that. I’ve been a victim of bullying my whole damned life. I know what it looks, feels and smells like. THAT was bullying. (Not the first time I’ve seen it with the particular person, and to be utterly clear, it isn’t the person who critiqued the book.) Think it might be you? Do you bully people on the internet/twitter/fb? Then lace it up and wear it, b.  Bullying, even in the name of a good cause, is still bullying.
  12. Witch hunts. I made such a face just now, I really did. But damn people, what is WITH the witch hunt mentality in publishing? I’m pagan, and extremely well educated (many useless degrees on the walls, promise). I’m aspie, which means *my* brain acts a lot like a computer in the amount of information I have at hand at any one p0int. So when I use the term ‘witch hunt’ that is exactly the right term to use. One person points the finger at another person, shouting “WITCH” then without proof, without reason, without any sort of trial the ‘witch’ is run out of town, or twitter dragged, or suffers a pile on in the worst way. (There’ve been a lot of these hunts around issues relating to PoC, pansexuality, asexuality, representation, tone policing and fetishism lately, just to name a few) There are those of us on ‘both’ sides of any single one of these witch hunts who would like to speak up and say something along the lines of ‘wait a minute, that isn’t Actually What They Said or Did’ or ‘Whoa, Wait a minute, that was taken completely out of context and used in a way it wasn’t ever intended as’. You know what? WE can’t. The moment one of us (again, on either side here of any particular dispute, I’m thinking of at least 9 different instances on different topics in recent months) says a thing that disagrees with the ‘witch hunt’ mentality, we’re tarred with the same damned brush. There is no logic, there is no reason, there is no kindness. (FWIW, I’m not a kindness before ‘A Person’ believer. You see something wrong, you hurt? Call, it, out. I will support you, always.) There certainly isn’t an atmosphere of listening and learning in the writing community on twitter. Which–I can tell you as a marginalized person myself–I’d be so much happier seeing. I’d be ecstatic  if people learned about me and tried to understand the things I face and have to deal with rather than them ‘getting their comeuppance’ and being feather-plucked/driven out of the community at large.
  13. You know what these recent witch hunts have done? It’s made me (passing PoC, neurodiverse, polyamorous, pagan, kinky, pansexual, chronically ill, queer, mentally ill,  fat… ) the person trying to get it right in my work, (because I know what it feels like to be marginalized in so many ways) not want to share my writing. It makes me doubt every word I’ve ever written regarding a person with a darker skin than mine. Everything I’ve ever alluded to from one of the ancestral cultures I have the honor to claim. (Edit… this is a massively common feeling, since I first posted this, I can’t believe the number of people ID’ing as any form of diversity who’ve reached out to me in a positive manner about this post. It’s not just me who’s feeling this.)
  14.  I have PoC characters in a lot of my writing, because I feel so strongly that everyone deserves to see themselves in fiction. I rarely, if ever, see accurate rep of me in fiction, I think everyone should have that. To see themselves reflected.  I remember hearing my mom, when I was a kid, say something along the lines of ‘she wished there were a few brown girls’ in the romances she liked to read. I remember her using lemon juice to lighten her skin and hair, and praising my (then) blond hair and blue eyes. Genetic fact, you don’t tend to tan well unless you’re pretty mixed up, ethnically. Many of us know a person who is really pale, all year round who turns into a lobster if they get a hint of sunlight? Not so mixed. Someone like me, who turns red-brown in the sun… very mixed, I have Spanish, Portuguese, African, Middle Eastern, First Nations, and European ancestors. You know… I remember my mom yanking on my hair with a brush to keep it from forming locks, (which it does even more now than it did then) because it wasn’t the ‘right way’ for hair to look. I remember her yanking out *Yes, she pulled them out of my scalp, and taught me to do the same thing* the dark, spiral curled hairs that grew in among the blond. I remember how I felt when I found the proof that, um, whups the reason we don’t talk all that much about some of your grandparents is cause they were so dark. Um… WTF? I know what it feels like *to me* to read about another mixed person in fiction. (I’ve blogged about it before, I literally cried the first time I saw it. Because I finally saw me. That feeling, of seeing ME/YOU is what I want for every person on the planet who enjoys fiction. This atmosphere… it’s driving away those of us who’re trying to get it right. These recent witch hunts, man. It’s made me say… well fuck, because I pass so well, I guess I don’t have the right to write people with angular eyes and dishy teeth (I have dishy teeth… you know? For the uninformed it’s a Native/First Nations/Asian biocline trait). I’m so light skinned (when I’ve been being writer chick and staying out of the sun) how dare I even think about writing a guy with dark skin and blue eyes, or, to refer (not rep, I won’t do that) but simply refer to one of my characters as rez raised Native. (My granddad was, left the rez to marry my grandmother… but my skin is awfully damned light to be writing someone with darker skin, isn’t it?) These witch hunts… damn people. What are you trying to do with them? To bastardize The Princess Bride, I don’t think you’re doing what you think you’re doing.
    1. Are you trying to drive authors who work very freaking hard at getting it right away from writing PoC? (I excoriate myself to get it right, to not use ‘food’ terminology when describing a skin tone or eye shape, just for instance. If I mention a culture or trait, I try my damnedest to not use stereotypes and, and, and, and.)
    2. Are we as a community trying to drive other authors away from just talking about their own ancestries? From learning and asking questions? It feels like that to me today. It really does. (I’m not speaking of that book now, I have not read it, I don’t know, if you haven’t read it, neither do you.) I AM speaking of how *I* feel trying to describe my characters. Is the fact that I see and write one of my characters as a girl with angular green eyes, gold skin and black hair going to get me tarred and feathered as being an Asian/First Nations Fetishist? I’m describing someone in my family when I use those terms, I had them vet the description before I used it. They thanked me for not comparing the shape of their eyes to a nut. (dude… white people’s eyes look more like almonds than Asian/First Nations… have you actually looked?) Is the fact that I see one of my characters as a dark brown man with blue eyes going to get me accused of another form of fetishism? (It’s a gene I studied in University, how the African diaspora encountered blue eyed people around the Baltic Sea around 10k years ago. There are blue eyed black people, shocker, I know, right? Did you know there’re red haired black people too? Red haired Native/First Nations? Is it wrong to depict them?) I have freaky silver-blue, color-changing eyes (Danish biocline trait) but my skin isn’t dark… how about if I only write light skinned Danish immigrants? I’ll ignore the other half of my ancestry, as I’ve been taught to do my whole damned life… is that what’s needed and wanted here? If I refer to my rez raised Native character as red-brown (my mom’s skin color btw, and mine in the summer after even a hint of sun) is it going to get me skinned alive by someone respected in publishing? Because my profile pic is taken in winter and I’m kinda pale in it? Oh! I know! I’m cream colored in my profile pic… doughy even, maybe even porcelain… means I’m white, right? What the hell are y’all trying to do?
    3. Is the end goal here a more diverse publishing atmosphere? It’s what *I* thought we were all doing and trying for. How does picking the feathers off of a debut author contribute to that? If the book is as reviewed, wow, yeah, some learning and fixing up needs to happen, and it shouldn’t have been published that way. Twitter dragging the author/the editor/the publishing house… that’s not going to help them learn. No, it’s not *OUR* responsibility to teach or educate anyone else about our marginalization’s. It is our responsibility to act like human beings. Like higher reasoning primates and not a bunch of featherheads toting pitchforks.
    4. I highly doubt many people are reading this… my experience of my mixed up ethnicity, of all of my experienced marginalizations and the pain I feel at seeing these… witch hunts… because I’m never on just one side of them. Each one of them splits me in half, or thirds… it’s crazy. It hurts, it hurts badly. If you are reading, if you’re on either side of these conflicts… could ya’ maybe step back a bit and say… I’m listening. I will read/research/think about the issue at hand and maybe talk privately to people I trust about it… rather than grabbing a torch and pitchfork?
    5. By grabbing a torch and pitchfork, I mean piling on in support of one side or the other in ANY conflict. Public call outs… this is probably the aspie me in (I really loathe being accused of something in public. Which might clue you in to how strongly I feel about this topic, to step up and say something I’ve been feeling for a while, KNOWING I’m likely to get taken to task for it.) but, does it actually HELP anything? It sure as hell isn’t changing publishing. Only thing going to change publishing is using your money to talk with. Buy the authentically diverse books with good rep. SUPPORT authors who are diverse, in whatever fashion their diversity shows itself in. I’d give a body part for some accurate kink rep in mainstream fiction other than the few that are out there… how about an adult aspie? Asexual? Grace? Mixed ethnicity? Adult polyamory other than love triangles? How about a fat girl in a romance? A disabled romantic MC who doesn’t get a miracle cure by the end of the book? I’d love one of those. There’s some kink and poly but not a lot, can’t think of many Grace or Aspie characters in adult fiction. I swear on all I hold holy I will give whoever brings up the movie The Accountant the lecture of their life on bad representation.
    6. This entirely human/chicken habit of tearing down, witch hunting, et cetera. It’s not helping. To be clear, I’m not talking about sharing an educated opinion of a book, nor am I talking against speaking your own pain. I’m talking about personal attacks against an author/entertainer, you know… name calling, career shaming, calling into question their integrity or their intelligence, rudely rolling ones eyes (virtually) about how damned dumb this particular person HAS to be to be making that mistake… that kind of thing. Damn. Here’s a question for those of you who may feel I just insulted you. Did you see the movie THE ACCOUNTANT? RAINMAN?? Were you entertained? Chilled? Excited? Thrilled? Or were you appalled at the rep? If you didn’t answer the latter, you got some work to do.
    7. Oh… and just cause I’ve seen it and I’m annoyed by it… piling on in support of PoC, LGBTQA+ (insert marginalized individual) doesn’t absolve you of your own guilt. If you’re light skinned (I am too, it’s part of the culture we live in) you’re racist. If you’re not Asperger’s/Autistic, you’re prejudiced against us. If you’re not mixed race, you have no idea what it feels like. If you’re not polyamorous, you have no idea how much it hurts to only be able to find monogamous romance to read, even when you LOVE romance. If you’re straight, you have no idea how badly we queer people want to see ourselves in fiction. If you’re not kinky… boy… I could write a whole damned thesis, probably a couple of them, on bad representation and the damage a certain series of books has done there because of piss poor research. If you aren’t part of a/the marginalized community, the only thing you can do is LISTEN. LEARN. Attempt to make bridges instead of tearing things apart. And for fucks sake. Do. Better. Maybe a good start would be to try leaving the plucking of feathers to the ducks and chickens.

On Diversity

So, here’s the thing.

I write romance, of a particular stripe, and though I’ve always been a writer, it’s pretty much always been the same type of work from me. Diverse, Kinky, Polyamorous.

Diversity isn’t just about one topic. There’re a lot of words being bandied about these days, in publishing, people saying they want diversity from writers. There’s a push for #ownvoices manuscripts. I’m grateful that there is some change, small though it is.

Thing I’m seeing, though? It’s not enough. It’s not diversity if you only start accepting monogamous same-sex romances. That leaves the rest of us out in the cold, crying for books to read. Those of us who are polyamorous, kinky, pansexual, our brothers and sisters and friends who use different words and pronouns to self-identify. How about a genderqueer or genderfluid MC in mainstream adult fiction? (I think I’m just getting old, but I’m so sick of reading about romantic monogamy… it’s not my thing, I’d like to read about my thing… ) What about an aroace MC? Grace? I can keep going…

Neurodiverse, haven’t seen it yet from traditional publishing, (it’s more prevalent in YA. Unfortunately, I don’t read YA, so… I’m left wanting books that rep me in that regard as well).

How about mixed ethnicity? This one is a little easier to find, I say that because I HAVE seen it. Once. Nalini Singh has mixed ethnicities in her books, and there was a person very like me in her books. It was the first time I’d ever seen that part of myself in fiction. I cried, literally, I had to wipe tears away to see that part of me in a traditionally published book.

It’s not only about accepting books with POC characters. The writers have to be POC too.

I’m such a mutt of ethnicities, which, yes, technically makes me passing POC, but I won’t write about the experience of living life in a darker skin, because I haven’t done it. (Yes, before you ask, I do write many characters who are POC in my futuristic or fantasy worlds. My characters show up fully formed for me, it’s the way it works in my head. But the experience of living life as POC in this world, that I won’t write because I respect those who have to live it in our messed up society and I want their stories, their words).

I’m not saying that writers shouldn’t listen to their muses, (world would be an awfully boring place if we didn’t have interesting stories to tell), but could we get a few stories by POC writers as well as those that aren’t? Could we get a few authors who are neurodiverse telling their own stories so that we can be repped in fiction too? I can name two mainstream polyamorous characters/series in traditionally published fiction. (I have a few more potentials on my TBR list, but I’ve personally read two series with poly characters). Pansexual? Haven’t seen it. (A note, my TBR list is taller than I am, and I’ve been able to add a few more books that purportedly rep diversity, I’ll review them when I get there.)

There is still so much pain and frustration, diverse people crying out for books that rep them (me included in many areas). Yet… where are our books? Is it just talk?

I hear the cries of others, I feel the pain myself. What is it going to take before we’re heard?