MEME FAIL: Actually, it’s about ethics in calling Wil Wheaton a racist misogynist for no good reason

Amelia C. Gormley:

If I’d known about We Hunted The Mammoth a year ago, I would have featured them in Player vs. Player. What an amazing site for keeping track of what GamerGate and the MRAs and PUAs are up to.

Originally posted on we hunted the mammoth:

Oops.

Oops.

The We Hunted the Mammoth Pledge Drive continues! If you haven’t already, please consider sending some bucks my way. (And don’t worry that the PayPal page says Man Boobz.) Thanks!

Welcome to the first episode of MEME FAIL, a new series of posts in which I look at, well, memes that fail. It’s kind of all there in the name, huh?

Today, we look at a meme aimed at former Star Trek: The Next Generation star Wil Wheaton, who has apparently committed the egregious sin of expressing his opinion about #GamerGate on Twitter.

The MEME. (Click for a larger version.)

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How it FAILS: There’s really no way in which this meme doesn’t fail.

Let’s start with the most obvious problem: Calling #GamerGaters stupid pieces of dog poop is not actually racist or sexist. Apparently, #GamerGaters feel that because there are some people in their little movement who…

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Player vs. Player blog tour, days three and four!

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It’s Day Four of the Player vs. Player blog tour! Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Yesterday, my blog tour took me over to The Blogger Girls, where I discussed my background and  motivation for writing Player vs. Player. I also shared an excerpt over at Book Reviews and More by Kathy.

Today I’m sharing another excerpt over at Love Bytes, stopping by TTC Books and More for a brief spotlight stop, and The Jeep Diva is sharing a review and hosting a spotlight stop as well!

Remember, commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles.

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Also, if you missed the middle-of-the-night news, Saugatuck Summer is on special this week for $0.99 at several outlets, including Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Now is a great time to grab it if you haven’t yet!

Enjoy!

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Get it while you can! Saugatuck Summer available @amazon for $0.99 #mmromance #newadult @RiptideBooks

SaugatuckSummer_500x750

So, I’m not sure if this is a special promotion, or a mistake, or what, but I’ve noticed that right now, Saugatuck Summer is available at Amazon for less than a dollar!

So, if you’ve been holding off on picking it up, or if you have other mm romance fans to get gifts for, now would be a great time. I have no idea how long it’s going to be at this price, though, so better grab it quick!

One summer can change everything.

Hi, I’m Topher Carlisle: twenty-one, pretty, and fabulous. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. But let’s get real. Walking the fake-it-til-you-make-it road to independence and self-respect isn’t easy. Especially since my mom’s a deadbeat alcoholic, and most of my family expects me to turn out just as worthless. Oh, and I’m close to losing my college swimming scholarship, so let’s add “dropout” to the list.

My BFF has invited me to stay at her beach house on the shore of Lake Michigan. That’ll give me one summer to make money and figure out what I want to do with my life. So of course I decide to have an affair with my BFF’s married, closeted dad. Because that always works out.

Now I’m homeless, friendless, jobless. Worthless. Just like my family expects, right? Except there’s this great guy, Jace, who sees it differently. He’s got it all together in ways I can only dream of—he’s hot, creative, insightful, understanding. He seems to think I don’t give myself enough credit. And if I don’t watch out, I may start to believe him.

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Player vs. Player blog tour, day two!

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It’s Day Two of the Player vs. Player blog tour! Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Today my blog tour is taking me over to The Novel Approach, where I discuss a particularly mind-boggling bit of irrational reasoning regarding the presence of women in gaming spaces. Also be sure to check out TNA’s lovely review they posted yesterday! Then I head over to to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for a brief spotlight stop, and finally over to Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi, where I share the history and love of gaming that led me to write Player vs. Player. Remember, commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles. Enjoy!

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Player vs. Player release day and blog tour launch!

PlayervsPlayer_468banner

Today, Player vs. Player is officially available just about everywhere. Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

I start my blog tour off today over at Prism Book Alliance, discussing diversity in gaming then follow that up with two excerpts, one over at All I Want and More Books and the other at Cup o’ Porn. Commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles. Enjoy!

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This just in: GamerGaters are actual heartless scum. But we knew that already. (tw: pet death)

Brianna Wu, a female game developer who was driven out of her home by credible threats leveled against her by GamerGate trolls a couple months ago, posted this series of tweets today:

She also had to have her dog tested to make sure he wasn’t poisoned:

And in case you want screen shots of the sort of stuff she was receiving on the night in question:

But it’s about ethics in gaming journalism, right?

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#GamerGate, meet #Ferguson; #Ferguson, meet #GamerGate

Amelia C. Gormley:

Stay classy, GamerGaters.

Originally posted on we hunted the mammoth:

Not a video game

Not a video game

If you grit your teeth and do a search for #GamerGate and #Ferguson together on Twitter, you will find Tweet after Tweet from worried #GamerGaters earnestly imploring their comrades not to make any connections between the two hashtags. Why? Because they know that those who cross the streams are likely to Tweet things like the following.

This what happens when #GamerGaters try to make sense of what is happening in Ferguson.

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Things #GamerGaters Actually Believe, Part 294: Gamers are as oppressed as African Americans in the Jim Crow era

Originally posted on we hunted the mammoth:

These are some actual Tweets posted yesterday by @FartToContinue, a fairly prominent #GamerGater.

fart1fart2fart3https://twitter.com/FartToContinue/status/537391103100858368

https://twitter.com/FartToContinue/status/537402552892280832

https://twitter.com/FartToContinue/status/537396025284395009

A few minutes with Google image search reveals that two of the images are photoshopped versions of photos documenting or depicting racial segregation in the Jim Crow era in the United States; one of the signs was originally directed at … hippies.

The originals:

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“This is female privilege” is comedy gold! [UPDATED with links]

Originally posted on we hunted the mammoth:

This doesn’t ever actually happen.

My new favorite terrible Tumblr blog is this is female privilege, a blog that posts user-submitted examples of, well, female privilege. It’s a pretty MRA-adjacent idea for a blog, seemingly designed to be appreciated only by those who can use the word “misandry” without giggling. The woman who runs the blog seems to be fairly MRA-adjacent type herself; she recently responded to one critic with a sarcastic “Wow waahhhh it’s so hard to be a woman wahhhh!” (Literally; that’s an exact quote.)

So it’s hardly surprising that many of the posts seem to have been cut and pasted straight from the Men’s Rights subreddit – at least figuratively, if not literally. (Click on the pics to see the posts in context at this is female privilege.)

But a lot of the alleged privileges are a bit, well, odder than that. The blogger…

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Lots of stuff happening on Goodreads this month for me

This is sort of an exciting month at Goodreads where my books are concerned.

First of all, STRAIN has been selected as one of the Book of the Month discussion books for the Goodreads BDSM group. So if you’ve read it (or if it’s on your TBR pile) and you want to discuss with others head on over there and check it out.

Second, it’s just over a month until PLAYER VS. PLAYER comes out. As such, a couple ratings have already hit Goodreads from people who got the paperback at GRL2014 in Chicago (or Amazon.) If you’re a reviewer, PvP is available at NetGalley, and you can also pre-order at Riptide or Amazon. With all the current upheaval in gaming culture, PvP is particularly topical right now, so if you particularly have an interest in issues of misogyny and homophobia in gaming and geek culture, be sure to check it out.

Finally, the Goodreads M/M Romance group is having their annual Readers Choice awards nominations. They do this each year as an answer to the Goodreads Readers Choice awards, which invariably never see much representation of LGBT Romance. STRAIN has already received several nominations, but to make it easier for those of you who may wish to participate, I will list which categories my books might specifically fit. I’ll put it under the cut, since I’m a little shy about pimping myself but forcing myself to do it anyway:)

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So, Amelia, are you doing NaNoWriMo? Wellll, yes and no. #amwriting

I’m not officially doing NaNo this year, because I’m too lazy to register. However, I’d really like to finish Bane this month, so I don’t have to worry about finishing it in December when all the holiday crap is happening.

That means I need to write ~67K in 30 days and do some significant revision on the first 33K.

Definitely doable. I wrote the first draft of Strain, which was 66K, in 28 days, and the first draft of Saugatuck Summer (93k) in 15 days.

Unfortunately, I also have to finish revising and submitting Juggernaut, which is going to set me back a few days. I may or may not try to make my 2,200/day word goal before working on revisions the rest of the day.

Luckily, my brain seems to be cooperating. This morning my son woke me up at Too Damn Early o’clock to (very sweetly) bring me coffee and breakfast in bed. I drank the coffee (because coffee) and tried to go back to sleep for a while, but I just sort of lay there drifting in a semi-conscious haze because the caffeine wouldn’t let me truly sleep. While in this state, several issues with Bane‘s plotting clicked into place. So I think I’ll be off to a good start.

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That lovely moment when someone really gets it.

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So, today I was looking over some of the reviews of Unconditional Surrender at Goodreads and saw this one, about my contribution to the bundle, titled The Housboy: Initiation:

House Boy: Initiation by Amelia C. Gormley – Wow. I am kinda stunned speechless at this one. And that’s a wonderful thing because it hit a bunch of my buttons, both good and bad. This, in my opinion, is how to tell a good story, especially one dealing with BDSM. The timing and pacing fit for the characters and ages. It was an excellently told and fantastically rendered Old Guard tale. That said, humiliation isn’t one of my things, but I get it here. It works in context with the story. I really liked how the situation was updated to incorporate some of the newer trends of the Lifestyle while still giving the feeling of the attitudes of the Old Guard way of BDSM. I also loved how the Bryce stood up for himself in his desires and that Vale was man enough to at least warn him that the reality probably wouldn’t match the fantasy.

I saw that review and a big smile spread across my face because I didn’t actually expect anyone to ever get the Old Guard connection there.

About, oh, 18 or so years ago, when I was first beginning to explore the BDSM lifestyle, there was no such thing as Fetlife or any of the other sites kinksters use now to connect with one another. Connecting with people in the scene here in Portland was pretty much restricted to munches, a mailing list called PDX-ASB (an offshoot of the alt.sex.bondage newsgroup) and things like a now-defunct meeting known as the Rose City Discussion Club.

I went to an RCDC meeting with the man who would one day become my husband one night when they were having a panel about the Old Guard, and even though this was years before I would develop my interest in same-sex erotica and romance, I remember being particularly interested in the middle-aged leatherman who described the way the gay biker clubs used to work, and his description of their initiations. About how a lot of Old Guard gay BDSM culture was started by military men who settled in the port cities (like San Francisco) after they got off the boats following World War II and Vietnam. About how primal and so not-sanitized it was, unlike the much cleaner and politer way BDSM is practiced today.

It was that experience that informed my writing The Houseboy: Initiation. I wanted to write about that difference between Old Guard and New Guard sensibilities, and how someone who is uninformed about BDSM might respond to his first exposure being more of the Old Guard variety. I wanted it to have that raw, gritty, unsanitized feel that I got from the leatherman’s descriptions of the gay biker club initiations. I just honestly didn’t expect anyone to pick up on what I was doing. I’m so geeked that someone did!

(Don’t forget that you can get a 50% rebate in ARe store credit on Unconditional Surrender if you pick it up at All Romance eBooks today.)

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All my titles are eligible for a 50% rebate @AllRomance today! #mmromance

Today you can get a 50% rebate in store credit at All Romance ebooks on all my titles, along with most of the rest of their store! Great chance to get caught up on anything you’ve missed lately!

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ATTN: STRAIN fans. I need a volunteer for a project. #amwriting

Dear STRAIN readers:

Some of you are aware that I have two more books in the STRAIN saga coming out. A prequel titled JUGGERNAUT and a sequel titled BANE.

JUGGERNAUT is written and I’ll be turning it over to my editor within days. BANE is being written and will be turned in within another month or two.

As I’m revising JUGGERNAUT and going into writing BANE, its become increasingly obvious that the world has expanded to the point where I need a series bible. However, my writing and revising schedule is tight enough that I really can’t find the time to give this project the full attention it needs.

WHAT I’M LOOKING for is a reader who is intimately familiar with STRAIN already (and preferably one who knows enough about writing to know what a series bible requires) to help me.

What will you get in compensation? How about a sneak peek at the early drafts of JUGGERNAUT and BANE?

I will provide you with access to the document I’ve already started, which has the outline of the bible and a sample entry or two in each section to demonstrate what I’m looking for. You will be familiar with (or able to figure out with minimal coaching) how to do things like create bookmarks and link to them within the document so that the table-of-contents is hyperlinked to the appropriate entries, and key words, characters, and concepts within each entry are hyperlinked to other entries as needed.

You won’t be working alone; I will also be adding to the bible as I continue writing and revising. I want to have the bible somewhat complete and available for my editors to refer to as the manuscripts move into the editing phase of things.

If interested, please contact me on Tumblr, Goodreads, or using the form on the About page of my website. Please give me a short explanation of how familiar with STRAIN and/or similar projects you are. Be honest about your ability to help, please? Don’t just respond because you want the sneak peek at the upcoming books. I need someone who is seriously capable, both skill-wise and time-wise, of helping out here.

Thank you!

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On Friday, Anita Sarkeesian called out “toxic masculinity” on Twitter. Here’s what happened next.

Amelia C. Gormley:

So, this happened.

Originally posted on we hunted the mammoth:

Anita Sarkeesian's Twitter notifications (Artist's conception)

Anita Sarkeesian’s Twitter mentions (Artist’s conception)

What a surreal life Anita Sarkeesian must lead, in which virtually everything she says and does becomes grist for the Great Internet Lady Harassment Machine, Sarkeesian Division.

Take the latest blowup, which followed a few comments Sarkeesian made in the wake of Friday’s school shooting in Maryville, which may have been triggered by the shooter’s angry response to a romantic breakup. On Friday, Sarkeesian posted a few thoughts on the matter on Twitter:

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Why I wrote Player vs. Player: @FeliciaDay @FemFreq @Spacekatgal @ChrisWarcraft @TheQuinnspiracy @gogreen18

I’m gonna get my bona fides–or lack thereof–out of the way up front.

I’m a gamer. I’m a feminist.

Am I a hardcore gamer? I imagine by most definitions, the answer would be no. I don’t have time for it; I have a son to raise and books to write. I drift in and out of gaming when something catches my attention. Whenever I’ve tried to be a hardcore gamer–for a while my husband and I had an arrangement for me to be able to take Friday evenings off from parenting starting at 7 PM so I could raid with my guild–it never worked out. 7 PM for me was 10PM for many of my guildies, so they wanted to start raiding at 5:30 PM, just when I was eating dinner with my husband and son. I always felt guilty because either I was letting my guildies down or I was ignoring my obligations to my family, so I just stopped trying to be a raider. Trying to do RaidFinder-type raids resulted in me being rejected and sometimes harassed for not being geared to their standards, so now I mostly stick to single-player games or do solo and small group content that I can work on in my own time.

While I am a feminist, I also don’t pretend that I’m the most educated and informed person on many of the issues. I’m very reclusive and sometimes that puts me behind the ball on current events and issues.

So, there. I’m by no means either an expert gamer or an expert feminist. I’m just someone who cares enough to try to call attention to issues when and where I can, using the voice and the medium I have available to me. Which, in this case, means as an author of LGBT romance.

When I started writing Player vs. Player , it was about a year after the harassment of Jennifer Hepler (formerly of Bioware) had taken place, and slightly less than a year after Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency had received such toxic backlash for starting her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter.

Those incidences stayed with me because I knew that internetting while female could be a nasty business, and because the harassment was so very vile, because it spoke of such a deep-seated hatred in gaming culture toward women, part of me thought, “Dear God, what is going to happen when one of these people goes from trolling to actual violence?”

It didn’t seem like a far-fetched possibility to me. In fact, it seemed downright inevitable. Because that’s the way things work. Bullies egg each other on and make one another feel bolder and try harder to impress each other and the bullying keeps escalating. That’s the way it’s worked ever since I was the bully-magnet on the playground when I was a kid. One kid would say a cruel thing. The other kids would laugh, so he’d say something crueler. Someone else would try to one-ups him. Next thing I knew, I’d be cornered with them all trying to out-do each other and intimidating me physically. A few days later, someone would be walking down the halls right on my heels, stepping on the backs of my shoes to try to trip me, pushing me into lockers, or, when I got older, grabbing my ass to impress his friends when he came across me browsing the book aisle in the supermarket.

Bullying escalates. So it didn’t seem at all unrealistic that the sort of treatment Hepler and Sarkeesian had received could eventually morph into actual physical violence. After all, what is the point of disseminating someone’s personal information such as their phone number and home address unless you’re trying to encourage someone to go after that person physically, and trying to intimidate that person with the possibility of an actual physical assault?

So that is what I wrote about. But I’m a writer of LGBT (primarily m/m but that may be subject to change in the future) romance, so I used the platform I had, making the story a murder mystery with a romantic subplot between two male characters. At one point I tried to contact Ms. Sarkeesian and see if I could get any more insight that would help me craft that story, but I imagine the amount of email she gets is tremendous so I’m not surprised that mine didn’t catch her notice, and that’s okay. I wrote as best I could, with the information had.

I thought I’d seen vile. I hadn’t seen anything yet.

I hadn’t seen an ex-boyfriend with a sexist ax to grind mobilize a bunch of misogynist trolls against Zoe Quinn (see next paragraph for explanation of this event.) I hadn’t game developer Brianna Wu driven from her home by threats. I hadn’t seen a college campus massacre threatened just because Anita Sarkeesian was going to speak about misogyny in video games (see below.) I hadn’t seen Felicia Day, the darling of geek culture, doxxed less than an hour after cautiously standing up and saying, “this isn’t right.”

(It should be noted that a couple days earlier, former NFL player and notable gamer and LGBT-rights activist Chris Kluwe said the same thing Day did, only much less diplomatically, but he hasn’t been doxxed. It’s only women being targeted.)

I’ve been posting recently about GamerGate, both here and on Tumblr. Maybe some of you don’t know what that is. I’m not going to try to explain it, because many people have done so much better than I can. I will refer you to this article, which explains it nicely.

ETA: After you’ve read that, check out this for a series of screencaps from discussions on 4chan in the first few days of the GamerGate operation, where we see it transition from a misogynist harassment campaign that wasn’t getting any traction to a concerted, calculated effort to try to cloak the harassment under a veneer of legitimacy and co-opt social justice hotbutton issues and language in an attempt to turn other women against Zoe Quinn.

But let’s just make one thing very clear. Despite subsequent recruitment of well-intentioned but misguided stooges and efforts to cloak themselves in legitimacy and claims of being about journalistic ethics, GamerGate is and has been from its very first inception about harassing women in the gaming industry, and women who critique gaming and gamers. It is a misogynist movement whose supporters are willing to make terroristic threats to silence people for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, using images and tropes relying on sexualized violence against women (and people of color, and LGBTQIA+ people) is at best, unimaginative and at worse, harmful to actual people.

GamerGate came along right after I had finished final edits on Player vs. Player. Part of me wishes sometimes I had written it a year later. It would have been a much more informed book. What was primarily on my mind as we were wrapping up PvP was Elliott Rodgers and the UCSB shooting. I even addressed the dedication to his victims and started the book with a quote from vlogger Laci Green, where she said about the shootings: “Misogyny actually kills people.”

At the time, Laci’s message was topical to PvP because that is, at its heart, what PvP is about. It’s about the misogynist/homophobic/racist backlash against gamers requesting (and game developers delivering) more diverse gaming content.

Misogyny actually kills people. That’s an important point to make. We know–especially right now in the aftermath of the murder of unarmed young black men in Ferguson and elsewhere across the United States–that racism kills people. We know that homophobia kills people. And misogyny kills people.

What is so very terrifying about GamerGate and the anti-diversity backlash in gaming is that it’s a perfect storm of misogyny, homophobia, and racism. These people are making terrorist threats against people who are simply asking for fewer harmful tropes and more diverse representation.

A very sad, jaded part of me wonders if the fact that Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Zoe Quinn, and now Felicia Day are being terrorized, threatened, even driven out of their homes, would be getting as much play in the press if these women were black, and an even sadder part of me knows the answer to that question would be “no.” We’re taking notice because this is happening to white women (Correction: Ms. Sarkeesian actually identifies as Armenian, I’m told, and her family is from Iraq.)

If I were writing Player vs. Player today, the murderers in the story would identify themselves as supporters of GamerGate. The only reason they don’t is because I wrote the book a year too early. In the author’s notes at the end of the book, I reference Jennifer Hepler and Anita Sarkeesian and explain how their incidences informed the writing of the book. If I were writing it today, that list would be a lot longer, and the book would probably actually be a lot grimmer, because the situation is far more toxic than even I envisioned at the time I wrote the book.

Ms. Sarkessian, Ms. Hepler, Ms. Quinn, Ms. Wu, Ms. Day, this book is for you, and for all the women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ gamers who have been and are being harassed into silence. It’s for cypheroftyr and dragonreine, two amazing LGBTQIA+ female gamers of color who are running the Why-I-Need-Diverse-Games blog and the #ineeddiversegames hashtag. It’s for more people than I can possibly hope to mention, who are refusing to be silenced, despite the best efforts of these misogynist, racist, homophobic trolls to turn gaming and simply being online while female into a culture of terror.

Thank you for fighting the fight. I know my contribution is nothing next to yours, but I’m doing what I can and I will always, always have your backs.

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Recommended reading: This is Misogynist Terrorism

Persuant to yesterday’s post, fo read this: http://www.shakesville.com/2014/10/this-is-misogynist-terrorism.html

I’m not exaggerating when I use the term terrorism, folks. And I’m not the only one using it.

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Score one for the terrorists #misogyny #gaming @femfreq @RiptideBooks

When I decided to write Player vs. Player, a great deal of it was inspired by events that happened a couple years ago to Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency and Jennifer Hepler, formerly of Bioware.

As the months have passed nearing the book’s publication, I worried that people would think I had hashed up an outdated incident and exaggerated it for story fodder. But I haven’t.

The reality is actually much grimmer.

Before I go any further, I will need to apologize. I’ve gotten three hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, I’ve had no coffee this morning, and my blood sugar is so low that I’m trembling. And I’m deeply upset and just… heartsick. My soul hurts. So I’m not necessarily at my coherent best right now, but I don’t have much time to post this before I need to leave.

Today as I woke up, looking forward to attending GRL, I discovered that Anita Sarkeesian has been forced to cancel an appearance at Utah State University. Apparently, the fact that this woman wants to speak about the treatment imaginary female characters receive in imaginary worlds and how that treatment reflects in our real-life culture is so intolerable that men have resorted to terrorist threats to try to silence her message.

This is after I’ve spent a week watching the #ineeddiversegames hashtag on Twitter and following the why-i-need-diverse-games blog on Tumblr. Which has also received a great deal of harassment from misogynists, racists, and homophobes who don’t see the lack of diversity in gaming as a problem.

Meanwhile, unarmed Black men are being murdered by the police forces who are supposed to protect and defend the people. And women are being assaulted and murdered for having the audacity to ignore catcalls or refuse unwanted advances on the street.

Do we not see that the reflections (or lack thereof) that we see of women, people of color, and MOGII/LGBTQIA+ people in our media (like video games) informs the culture in which women can be shot in the head and have their throats slit for not responding favorable to street harassment? That the portrayals of people of color in these games as being villains or victims or cannon fodder but never heroes whose stories we experience contributes to the dehumanization of people of color, to the point where young Black men who aren’t threatening anyone, who aren’t armed, who have committed no crime.

And the people who point out this issue are being threatened with rape and massacres and harassed until their voices are drowned out.

Maybe it’s my lack of sleep or lack of caffeine or lack of food, but today I just can’t with it all. We live in a world that hates women, that hates people based on the color of their skin or who they love or whether or not their gender matches their genitalia. And I just want to cry.

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Oh, hey, Player vs. Player is available now @NetGalley! #mysterysuspense #lgbtqia+ #gaming @RiptideBooks

PlayervsPlayer_468bannerI was wondering when review copies of Player vs. Player would be available. Somehow it snuck up onto NetGalley without me realizing! You can also pre-order PvP at Riptide or Amazon.

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In observance of Free Fiction Friday, I give you tentative blurbs to JUGGERNAUT and BANE #Strain @RiptideBooks

So, those of you who have been paying attention have noticed me talking a lot more (and a lot less vaguely) these past few weeks about the upcoming novels in the Strain saga.

Nothing is official or written in stone yet. I’m still waiting on a contract and I have no idea what the release date for these books will be. But I do have titles and tentative blurbs (again, however, they’re not written in stone. Pretty sure the titles won’t change, but the blurbs might.)

Juggernaut is the first of the two books. It’s set roughy 10 years before Strain and chronicles the events immediately before and after the pandemic that wiped out humanity.

JUGGERNAUT

Nicolás Fernández, better known to the clients of his mother’s escort agency as Octavio Costas, is one of the most in-demand male escorts operating independently of the corporate brothel system. To General Logan McClosky, Nico’s willingness to use his skills to influence political decision-makers make him a valuable asset, one McClosky isn’t afraid to employ to get the green light to activate Project Juggernaut, his last, best hope for turning around a desperate military situation.

Zacharias Houtman is struggling with a crisis of faith. Dutifully, he left seminary and his dreams of starting his own ministry behind to study political science and become his father’s assistant and advisor as the Reverend Maurice Houtman moves into the political arena. But his father is no longer listening to his guidance, veering into malicious and hypocritical zealotry intended to thrill the masses, and leaving behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy.

When their disparate worlds unexpectedly collide, both Nico and Zach will find themselves unwitting instruments in the events that lead up to the end of humanity and civilization as they know it. But will they survive the aftermath?

Those of you who are paying attention may recognize a familiar name in there. Yes, Zach is the elder son of Father Maurice from Strain, big brother to Jacob. Several other Strain characters will make appearances in Juggernaut, as well.

I will warn you right now: Juggernaut does not have a HEA or even a HFN. You have to read Bane, the sequel to Strain, to get that resolution to Zach and Nico’s relationship.

BANE

For two years, Rhys Cooper has lived with Delta Company, the exiled super soldiers infected with the Alpha strain of the Bane virus, whose Beta and Gamma strains destroyed most of the earth’s population. His passionate, undefined relationship with Sergeant Darius Murrell has helped him begin to heal from the abuse, terror, and isolation of his adolescence. But despite frequent sexual exposure to the Alpha strain, Rhys hasn’t become a Jug himself.

Zach Houtman has spent the last twelve years separated from his Alpha-infected lover, Nico. He’s worked for the Department of Pandemic Research and Prevention to study Bane, but his true intentions have been a secret. The head of the DPRP has a far more sinister project, and Zach means to put a stop to it.

Encountering the young man Zach’s father and younger brother terrorized for seven years wasn’t part of the plan, but Rhys’s immunity may be Zach’s best chance to expose the DPRPs secret agenda. And a surprising discovery might finally allow Zach and Nico to be together—and maybe give the Jugs hope for a home and future at last.

So, there you have it. Again, a great deal of this is subject to alteration, but what has, for quite some time, been a rather amorphous project now has taken shape.

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In honor of the #INeedDiverseGames tag, I share an excerpt from Player vs Player @RiptideBooks

For those of you who aren’t aware, I have a mystery/suspense novel coming out in December titled Player vs. Player. This novel is set within the gaming industry and deals with the rampant misogyny, homophobia, and racism in gaming and geek culture, and more specifically, the violent backlash against anyone who speaks out and threatens the status quo. It was inspired by, among other things, the way Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency has been treated for her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video series.

Today, CypherofTyr on Tumblr started the #INeedDiverseGames hashtag on Twitter and a Tumblr blog called Why-I-Need-Diverse-Games. It only took a couple hours for trolls to appear and start trying to derail a tag that has already picked up some absolutely awesome momentum. In support of this, I thought I would share a particularly relevant excerpt from Chapter 18 of Player vs. Player.

Cast of Characters:
Rosena Candelaria: (Latina, pansexual) CEO of Third Wave Gaming Studios
Niles River: (Half-Turkish MOC, gay) Lead writer at Third Wave
Jordan River: (Half-Turkish MOC, gay) Niles’s identical twin brother, marketing director at Third Wave
Angela Payne: (Black, lesbian) Police detective
Timothy Wyatt: (White, bisexual) Police detective

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STRAIN is a Rainbow Awards finalist! #mmromance #post-apocalyptic @RiptideBooks

rainbow awardsStrain has made it to the final round of the Rainbow Awards in the Gay Sci-Fi/Futuristic category! Yay!

Right then. Time to go work on the next two books in the Strain universe.

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The Cult of Masculinity

Okay, folks, I’m going to the ranty place. Buckle up.

So, one of the latest bits of misogyny to make feminists on social media see red (and for good reason) is this commercial:

For the moment, let’s forget all the not-so-subtle subtext here. Let’s forget that something associated with being a woman is quite literally being equated to shit (he picks up the purse the same way a dog owner will collect their dog’s droppings.) Let’s forget that it’s saying that finding ways to cloak any un-masculine presentation is an endeavor worthy of applause, or that holding a woman’s purse for a couple minutes is so emasculating a task that he has to find ways to avoid being seen doing it.

When did carrying a purse become a purely feminine trait?

(The answer, for those of you who care about the history of fashion, is “sometime after the late 17th century, when men’s fashion started to come with pockets for carrying their coin, which was the only currency option back then.”)

Today, I was driving past the mall and I saw a man on the sidewalk wearing a very small backpack. Like, half as wide as a regular backpack and not as long. It looked something like this, but more canvas-like, not so padded and athletic:

In fact, in terms of size, it actually looked more like, well, this:

Titled on Ebay: “Cute women’s mini-backpack.”

Let’s face it, folks. He was carrying a “man purse.” And I hate that I have to call it a “man purse.” He wants the carry capacity of a purse, but he’s too manly to carry an actual, you know, purse.

Which is why I started wondering when carrying a purse became something unmanly. I mean, look at Scotsmen with their sporrans.

I mean, Liam Neeson here as Rob Roy is rocking long hair, a skirt, AND a purse, and I don’t care if you’re some freaky mutant hybrid made up of the combined DNA of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vin Diesel and The Rock, your poor, teeny-tiny steroid-shrunken penis is curling up and weeping in envy because it knows you will never be half so butch as Liam in this picture.

Do I have a point here? Yes, of course I do. It’s the fact that ultra-masculinity is held up as such a gold standard for existing that anything which even hints at femininity is treated as though it will TAINT that masculinity by mere proximity. (Seriously, how manly are you really if the sight of a box of tampons can make you squirm?)

Now, as a woman, as a feminist, of course this bothers me because femininity is viewed as being inherently and by its very nature inferior. It’s even codified into our vernacular. A guy who feels he’s being treated like a woman will complain about the implication that he’s “less than” a man. Less than. I’ve heard femme gay guys use that verbiage. Men who were feminists and who love and support the women in their lives and claim to have no problems with femininity, especially their own manifestation of it. They use it without thinking about what they’re actually implying.

Less than a man.

Let’s say we’re getting away from this idea of gender as a binary and treating it as a spectrum. It’s still being treated as a VERTICAL spectrum, with masculinity at the top and femininity at the bottom. And that’s not good.

As a writer of LGBT romance (m/m for now but that may change in the near future) this affects me because a subject that comes up periodically in the m/m romance community is the trope that the roles a guy plays sexually correlate to his gender presentation. In other words, the femme gay guy is the bottom and the butch gay guy is the top.

Now, this is an absolutely 100% valid criticism. These heteronormative stereotypes are no good for anyone. The assumption that all gay men participate in penetrative sex is no good. The assumption that anyone has any business knowing what role someone plays in their private sex life is no good, unless the concerned parties are happy to share and not pressured by intrusive questions. There is a lot of BAD about that trope and I absolutely support dismantling it, so long as we can do so without committing erasure on or belittling the femme gay guys who DO enjoy bottoming exclusively, or the butch guys who do enjoy topping exclusively. We have to respect their presence in the community as well and not eschew them just because they slot into an uncomfortable stereotype.

But the TONE of the criticism sometimes bothers me as a woman. Because, of course, gay couples get asked (rudely and unacceptably) “which one of you is the girl?” So gay men are lashing back (justifiably) saying, “don’t ask me what role I play in sex. Don’t assume I’m the top or the bottom.”

Which is great if the end of that sentence is “because it’s no one’s business but mine” or if the answer were, “maybe I top and maybe I bottom, or maybe I do neither, it’s not your business and anyway, what difference does it make?”

But sometimes the subtext of that conversation isn’t “don’t assume I’m the bottom,” it’s “don’t assume I’m the girl.”

To which I would have to reply, “Wait. What’s wrong with being the girl?” I mean, why is being the girl fine for me (as a girl) but not for you, unless you think that “being the girl” makes you . . . less?

Unfortunately, just as straight women who purport to be friends and allies of the LGBT community can espouse homophobic and transphobic biases they might not even realize they hold, sometimes gay men, even those who claim to love and support women, can be misogynists, too.

But here’s the kicker: MISOGYNY IS THE ROOT OF HOMOPHOBIA/BIPHOBIA/TRANSPHOBIA. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it a million times again. There would be absolutely nothing threatening about men and women who cross sexual and gender lines if those lines weren’t in place as scaffolding to uphold this notion of masculinity being superior to femininity, and if the commingling of the two weren’t perceived as tainting that superiority.

So, guys–straight, gay, and otherwise–rock that purse if you need room to carry something. If you do to the store for your girlfriend/wife/platonic female roommate/BFF, slap those tampons down on the conveyor belt with an utter lack of give-a-fuck. Stop trying to uphold your masculinity by distancing yourself from the “taint” of femininity. Harmful stereotypes, damaging gender roles, and homophobia doesn’t end until the taboo of femininity ends. Work on dismantling that, rather than dodging it.

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Player vs. Player now available for pre-order at Amazon #mmromance #mystery #gaming @RiptideBooks

PlayervsPlayer_500x750

Player vs. Player is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Keep in mind that if you pre-order through Riptide, you get the book two days earlier, and more of the proceeds support the author and publisher. However, ordering at Amazon affects the chances of the book making bestseller lists upon its release, and that’s important too.

But, most important of all, readers have a choice. Which is always awesome.

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Unravelling Myself (The Evolution of My Self-Identity)

I should be writing but I keep getting caught up in thinky-thoughts about who I am and what it means so I figure I need to get them out there to clear my head for the stuff I’m supposed to be working on right now.

(warning: what follows will be some long and probably convoluted self-examination)

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