Tag Archives: social justice

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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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!

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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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Get your first look at Player vs. Player @RiptideBooks #mmromance #mystery #gaming #comingsoon

This weekend while I was enjoying myself at Gay Romance NorthWest in Seattle, Riptide released the excerpt for Player vs. Player in their weekend newsletter. It’s now available on their website, so feel free to take a peek!

PlayervsPlayer_468banner

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.

Player vs. Player is coming December 8, 2014 and is available for pre-order now!

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The summer in review (or: “where the heck have you been, Amelia?”)

So, it’s been almost two months since my last blog update. I know. Ask me how long some people have been waiting for responses to emails they’ve sent to me.

My dear friend Depression has been visiting this summer, and hasn’t wanted to leave. For the last several months, it’s been increasingly difficult to make myself do anything unless it has an actual deadline attached to it. Mostly I’ve been doing escapist stuff and avoiding talking to people (if you’re one of those people in question, I beg you not to take it personally, as I’m avoiding everyone. It’s not just you.) The avoidance is probably for the best, actually. When I tend to get this bad, I will often go off the rails and behave badly and lash out at people and it’s not pretty. It also, however, has not helped me get a whole heck of a lot done.

So, what have I been doing?

In order of what you’re going to see released, I have two projects approaching completion.

The first will be coming out just in time for GRL, and is a box set with a bunch of other authors whose company I’m incredibly thrilled to be in.

UnconditionalSurrender_400x600My story is titled The Houseboy: Initiation, and is nothing short of pure, unadulterated erotica. Seriously. There are a lot of stories where I go for “smut with substance” and there is a lot happening behind the sexytiems. This…is not one of those times. It’s Daddy kink. It’s BDSM. It’s age difference, virginity kink, gangbang, objectification, semi-public sex, exhibitionism, and God only knows what else. In many ways, it’s what Strain would have been without the angst and the fuck-or-die element driving the plot. If that sounds like your cuppa, I’ll be sharing an excerpt in my next post. 🙂

Of course, my depression means my inner critic is being particularly loud, and I’m convinced the story is awful and has no place in the bundle and blah blah blah, but hopefully it will go over well. The bundle is up for pre-order if you would like go that route, and here are the links:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes

No, you’re not imagining things, Yes, we really are offering you 300K of original stories by some of your favorite authors for only 99 cents. Jump on this. Seriously.

PlayervsPlayer_468bannerThe next project in the works will be coming out in December. I’ve already shared some about it, but in case you missed it, this is my first attempt at an honest-to-God mystery. (Yes, I went to the plotty place.) This is also the same book you might have heard me refer to in other places as Third Wave. I also went to a surprisingly low-smut place with this one. I’m not sure if I was proud or appalled at how sparse the content and kink warnings were when I was filling out the information for the product page at Riptide. PvP will be out in December and is available for pre-order from Riptide. Right now we’re in the middle of edits and I imagine review copies will be going out in the next month or so.

Now, what else have I been working on? Well, a great deal of my new-word productivity this summer has been spent on Bane. What Bane is, I’m hesitant to say, because it keeps changing on me. It started as a prequel to Strain, set about ten years before the events of Strain. It was the story of high-end escort Nico and Zach Houtman, the disowned elder son and brother of Father Maurice and Jacob in Strain, and how their actions and the actions of those around them led to the activation of Project Juggernaut and the plague that wiped out most of humanity.

And then I discovered that Darius, Rhys, Xolani and the rest of the Delta Company gang wanted in on some of the plot threads that developed as a result of those pre-plague events, it became a sequel to Strain with portions that jumped back in time (via extended flashback-like sections) to before the plague. So it was sort of going to be a prequel-within-a-sequel, if that makes sense?

But then, as I brainstormed a few plot points with Chris, the editorial assistant at Riptide, I realized I probably have too much content for just one book. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it is looking like it might be two books–the original prequel I envisioned, and then a sequel which will take the events of the prequel and bring them together with the characters from Strain. Right now the whole project is still being called Bane, though I imagine at some point there is going to be another title involved.

So, what does this mean? Well, I’m really excited about Zach and Nico’s story, especially since I get to delve into a lot of the politics and build the world and events that resulted in the plague, but for those of you who were fans of Strain, I’m sure the big news here is that yes, Darius and Rhys WILL be back. It was actually pretty amazing from a writing standpoint. I was stuck writing some stuff with Zach and Nico, so I decided to switch over and start working on a new scene with Darius and Rhys, and I swear, everything just fell into place. They came back to me so easily and naturally, and it just felt so right, and once I started working on them, everything else started to take shape and make sense. So I’m hoping to have the first draft of this two-book manuscript done in another month or two, and then hopefully Riptide and I will have more information for all of you.

And don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten that Geoff and Robin from Saugatuck Summer, or Matt and Chris from The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, are still supposed to get their own books. Those are just on the back burner for now because Bane is consuming my brain. And for those of you who are looking forward to PvP, you might like a heads-up that Niles’s twin brother Jordan will also be getting his own book, and also I may be dipping my toe into the f/f pool and giving Rosie, Niles’s boss and best friend, her story as well. In fact, she’s poking me in the back of the brain pretty hard and demanding it, and you just don’t say no to Rosie. It doesn’t happen.

Next month, I’ll be up in Seattle at Gay Romance NW 2014, and then in October, of course, I’ll be at GRL2014 in Chicago. I was not one of the lucky few who got an author spot, so I’ll be attending as a reader, but I will be at the Riptide table for the book signings, and I’ll be around, so you’ll get a chance to see me.

So there’s a lot in the hopper right now, the big issue is just overcoming the urge for avoidance and escapism that is part and parcel of being depressed. I’ll be trying to dig my way through my email and message backlog, so hang tight if you’re waiting to hear from me. Hopefully it will get easier the more I work on it. But for those of you are are still reading at this point, especially those of you who deal with chronic depression, what do you do to overcome it when you get in that place where you just want to avoid anything and everyone and not deal with it all?

 

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Player vs. Player now available for pre-sale @RiptideBooks #mmromance #mystery

PlayervsPlayer_500x750For those of you who have been waiting for my gaming industry whodunit mystery (formerly titled Third Wave) here it is! Now available for pre-sale at Riptide!

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 players. 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.

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My books are not a PSA #bdsm #unpopularopinions #50SoG

Okay, so I’m a pretty social-justice conscious person. I’m well-aware of my cis-het white privilege, try to keep it checked as much as I can, try to boost the voices of my LGBT and POC friends to get their message across without speaking over them, and just generally try to live with as much sympathy and empathy and decency as I possibly can.

And here’s the thing. The majority of LGBT romance readers? Are also very aware of social justice issues, and aware of a lot of other sexual minority issues, such as those relating to safe sex and BDSM play. They don’t always handle them perfectly, but they can’t help but be aware of them by social media osmosis. There is not a single author or reader I follow on Twitter or Tumblr who doesn’t make posts or reblogs/retweets about social justice issues.

As the risk of being told “ur wrong” I would hazard a guess that the LGBT Romance audience is at least slightly more educated about these various issues than the common consumer.

In short: our readers are smarter than the average bear (the Yogi kind, not the leather-wearing kind.)

This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because it means that we, as writers, have to pay attention to the details of what we do and make sure we don’t screw up, and that if our characters screw up, it’s because of a deliberate choice we made as authors to go that route, not because we were ignorant. But it’s a blessing because it means that we are not obligated to use our books to educate our readers on social or safety subjects, because they already know the issues at play.

Unfortunately, sometimes the blessing and the curse happen concurrently. Like, for instance, when our characters make choices that are not necessarily safe or correct, and our readers are aware of what IS safe and correct and believe that the author should have had the characters do it right.

The problem is, we, as authors (and especially as authors with an informed audience) are not obligated to make our books Public Safety Announcements.

Let’s take BDSM, for an example.

I’ve been involved with the BDSM lifestyle, whether actively playing or just hanging on the fringes with other not-presently-practicing lifestylers, for nearly twenty years. I’m well aware of the danger of the play we may pursue, how conscious BDSM practitioners need to be about the risks and about consent issues. I’m well aware of the misconceptions the uninformed public might hold and how it can lead them to making unwise or risky choices.

I think there are approximately zero people who are actually informed about BDSM who thing that Fifty Shades of Grey portrays it well, or sanely, or consensually, or safely. And I know some of them feel like the book should be shredded and the author (figuratively) scourged because of how badly those issues are handled. But for me, the way BDSM was handled in that book is not the make-or-break issue.

What is the make-or-break issue for me in that book is that it takes a relationship that already has a metric fuck ton of abusive subtext (Twilight meets all 15 criteria for an abusive relationship, according to domestic abuse authorities, and so does 50SoG because the relationship is based on the one in Twilight), romanticizes it (“the hero isn’t being abusive when he jerks the heroine around, sends her conflicting messages, stalks her, blames her for things that are his fault, and controls her social contact and the information she’s allowed to expose herself to; he’s just angsty and conflicted and enigmatic!”) and then throws badly-done BDSM on top of it.

The result is that it packages BDSM with a romanticized abusive relationship and then markets it to an UNINFORMED AUDIENCE (note that word: uninformed.) The target audience for Twilight and 50SoG is not the same as the target audience for LGBT Romance. We’re talking primarily vanilla cis-het women, either very young or from an older generation that is not as current on social issues, who are often quite ignorant of sexual and BDSM-safety questions, and who are already at risk of mistaking romanticized abuse for romance due to being inundated by images of such relationships in the media all around them.

In other words: the BDSM in 50SoG is problematic, but it’s not THE problem. The problem is the whole package.

But the LGBT Romance audience is different. They’re savvier. They’re less susceptible to being inundated by romanticized abusive relationships from the media because they are not only more informed on the various issues at play, they also read books that largely side-step harmful gender-role tropes and problematic power dynamics prevalent in M/F romance. That means we LGBT Romance authors can relax a little more about the messages we’re sending.

But even if we couldn’t…

Books are not Public Service Announcements. They are fictional narratives intended for entertainment and perhaps even to provide escapist fantasies.

One large issue this particular topic comes back to is the use of condoms, a subject I’ve posted about before. Our audience already knows about the proper use of condoms, and our authors are as well. If the author chooses not to have a character use condoms, it’s because the author has made the choice deliberately, either to further a fictional, escapist fantasy where sex without condoms is sexier, or because it’s a choice they feel their character would make, even if the author doesn’t support it. Our characters are not obligated to live by our (the author’s or the audience’s) ethics and standards of acceptable practices.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Anyone who wants to accuse me of being a proponent of unsafe sex because my character chooses not to use a condom is cordially invited to read my upcoming thriller about the author who goes around ax-murdering self-righteous and moralizing critics who are too ignorant or full of themselves to get the difference between fantasy and reality. Because if my character does it, clearly I’m okay with it, right?

(That thunderous sound you hear is not a nearby bowling alley, it’s my eyes rolling. Yes, hundreds or thousands of miles away. I’m that over it with this subject.)

The same goes for BDSM practices. If my characters choose to do something that would be absolutely Not Okay in the BDSM community (issues of SSC vs. RACK aside) it’s not because I don’t know how to BDSM. It’s because I made a creative choice to have my character do something that I, myself, might not be a proponent of.

Authors who do not condone rape can still write non-con or dub-con escapist fantasy. Because they trust their audience to be sane people who recognize the difference between fantasy and reality.

So before you jump all over an author and savage him or her with URDOINITRONG! stop and ask yourself the following questions:

1) Is the character doing this because the author is ignorant of the subjects at play, or because the author has chosen to take that route for reasons specific to that author, that character, or that scenario?

and 2) Who gave you the authority to demand an author make each and every work a treatise on the safe and proper use of condoms, or BDSM play, or whatever?

It’s really that simple. Authors are under no obligation to pander to your person crusade on “how to condoms” or “how to BDSM” etc. Their only obligation is to tell a story. You’re under no obligation to like it. You’re under no obligation to read it. Just don’t get self-righteous about it or assume objectionable creative choices equate to ignorance. And recognize that you have absolutely no right whatsoever to expect or demand that they do so.

My books are here to tell a story, not to promote a social agenda–mine or anyone else’s. Full stop.

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