To The FemmeMobile! Away!











{October 25, 2013}   When research strikes

Hi, all!

This year has been something else. I’ve pretty much settled into my femme identity with no more trauma, which is nice. Things occasionally come up around gender or sexual inequality, but mostly little things that I post to Facebook or campaign about elsewhere.

And, a lot, I haven’t had time to write down anything that isn’t a burning desire.

Anyway. I do now. New issues! Ones that aren’t really femme or lesbian, but definitely sexual identity. So I might as well unpack those, right? Dust off the FemmeMobile, folks… 😉

I wrote a book! (Uh, that is, another book!) I don’t know how popular it is yet, as royalties won’t come in for another month, but it’s getting ace reviews from both reviewers and readers. You can check it out here, on Amazon, where it has some fabulous reviews. 😉

I need to talk about some of it for this all to make sense, so in short, it’s about someone getting into BDSM (mostly the BD part) with some friends of his. (Also in small part, it’s my response to how horrible “50 Shades of Gray” was. I mean, really, that book was about how to be in an abusive relationship, and how, if you’re interested in kink, you must be broken. Fuck that shit.) I did research. I wrote the book. It was beautiful. My butch (the same one I started dating over three years ago!) read it and was like, “So… honey… this is some fun stuff. :D” Ahem. Yes. >.> *grins*

Now I’m working on the sequel, which I’ve had a harder time with. A character in the book, London, who was just kind of bossy has decided that she wants to Dom. I’m not a Dom. I did some ‘net research, started writing, stalled out, started again, etc. Not sure what was wrong, I finally stopped, re-read “A Little Weird,” realized in part what was wrong, complained to a friend that I hadn’t found a book on BDSM that really helped me, and was loaned copies of “The New Topping Book” and “The New Bottoming Book.”

I’ve now read “The New Topping Book” (which was AWESOME, btw, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s curious) and started “The New Bottoming Book,” (less important for my novel, as really I need to shape a top, not a bottom). It answered a lot of the “Ehhhhs,” I had in writing the second book, so with a much clearer idea of what I need to be shaping, I’m all set.

Allllllll of that is to say that I did this research because I was idly curious and thought it was a fun take on a story (also, I like empowering underdogs, and after “Shades” I think of healthy kink as an underdog) , and now I’m like, “Gosh, I have a lot to think about.”

Today is the first day of my period, so I’m a little low energy. I’m also coming down from a big weekend. I decided to finish “The New Topping Book” today, and pretty much just bulled through it. (It’s an easy and entertaining read, so that helps!)

Hm. I’m not sure how to continue here, so I’m going to back up and turn sideways.

I think I learned, growing up, that weakness was bad. My mom was a caretaker, but for all the wrong reasons. She’d fix things or arrange things or organize things for someone, help them with their life, but she’d be angry and resentful about it and never tell them. It left me with this mindset:

I never want to ask for help, because it is never freely given. I never want to show weakness, because then I’ll have to fend off those who would help and be angry with me for it, and do so in a way that won’t hurt them. People who care take of others can’t be trusted: they secretly hate it.

Also this:

If you ever have some time for self-care or downtime, do not use it. Find something “productive” to do.

I’ve realized aspects of these things before, but never quite as full blown as I’m realizing it now. I think I have the Topping Book to thank for that. One of the sections that really hit me was the idea of a top’s limits; that part of their job is to know their OWN limits. That it’s not just the bottom that sets limits, but that the top needs to know what they can and can’t do. You may or may not have noticed, but a lot of what a top (or a Dom) does is care taking. Be in charge, including comfort and aftercare and cuddles if that’s what your sub needs. This is exactly the kind of thing I avoid needing, but I’m definitely subby. (I don’t know how subby; I haven’t experimented enough. Luckily Q seems eager to experiment with me! Anyway, there’s definitely that inclination, though.)

In reading about tops being responsible for knowing what they can and can’t do, I had a realization: I might not understand why they would WANT to take care of anyone, but I can accept that it’s their job to say, “No, I don’t want to do a scene where I push you hard and you need aftercare, because I don’t have it in me for aftercare right now.” That it’s NOT my responsibility to feel guilty for needing help. That it’s okay to have downtime.

What a concept!

In reading the topping book, it also suddenly occurred to me that it’s okay for me to know my own limits in every day life, and to take care of myself. Gasp! You mean, today, when it’s the first day of my period, I’m tired and crampy and a little emo, it’s okay to stay in my PJs and take a hot bath and even go back to bed for 30 minutes?! I like the fantasy of letting a top (that I trust to know their own limits) pamper me like that. So why couldn’t I pamper myself like that? Why isn’t it okay to practice some self care?

Sometimes I have “sick days.” When I’m tired and stressed and I can’t take it any more, I cancel everything and watch movies. I’ve been getting better, too, about taking time off. (I’m self employed, so this takes real determination.) I’ve been doing much, much better at it. But there’s almost always a level of agitation or guilt or “shoulds” that go along with it.

Today, in reading the topping book, it was like hearing permission to be weak and vulnerable and have down time. It was this amazing idea that someone else could do that for me, could insist on it, without feeling burned out or resentful. That they might GET something from it, in fact. And if they can do it for me, and it’s not only okay but expected and praised… then why can’t I do it for myself?

In sex instead of life, there’s another aspect to this. I really don’t understand the urge to dom/top. I can accept that others have that urge, even if I don’t at all get it, and be glad for that. But between the aforementioned aversion to care taking, and the lack of understanding, I have personal concerns. Like, what if Q wants me to try topping so she can try bottoming? What if she gets angry and resentful at topping because I’m… I don’t know, too subby? (When I think about this rationally, I realize we have EXCELLENT communication. I don’t really believe this would happen, because she’d tell me something was going wrong first.)

Anyway, these are things I’ll have to think about and discuss with Q. Some part of me feels like I SHOULD at least try topping if she wants, and the gut part of me knots up at even thinking about it. (This is hilarious, as I’m rather a leader type in everyday life.) I don’t know if it’s a holdover from my gazillions of other sexual issues, or if it’s because I associate bottoming with girly genders (which Q is not, and it kind of a alarms me to think she suddenly would be — though I don’t think that’s how it works…) (also, I realize I’m totally gendering here, and that’s not a good thing. Believe me, you don’t have to point out the negative use of stereotypes, I’m aware of them.). All stuff to start processing.

Oh yeah, and did I mention we got engaged? 🙂 More stuff to process! And some other stuff, too, that isn’t mine to talk about just yet… ayup, life is changing. I’m definitely going through… something. The planets are aligned or somesuch!

J

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{November 17, 2011}   Books, and marketing

So. I write books. Currently I have a straight, paranormal romance novella, a straight cowboy romance novel, a couple of gay romance short stories, three gay romance novels, and a gay romance fantasy series.

That last one is frustrating. I love it, it’s my favorite. HOORAY FOR FANTASY! WITH GAY PEOPLE! But I wrote it for Torquere Press, which is a gay romance publisher, and so it’s kinda romantic.

No, mostly it’s fantasy. With a subplot of love interest. But to make it publishable (and therefore sellable), I added sex. The thing is, it’s more fantasy than romance. I’d like to market it as fantasy… except that sex makes it officially romance/erotica, and that is SO ANNOYING. (Without the sex, getting it sold would have been MUCH HARDER, so I shouldn’t bitch too much. But I will, because…) It’s hard to get romance readers to read fantasy. It’s much easier to get fantasy readers to read romantic fantasy. In fact, they gobble it up.

So I’ve been contacting gay friendly fantasy review sites and pitching it, offering a free copy of the first story in trade for a review, but let me tell you: it’s kinda depressing. The third story in the series is out today, and each story is a little over 50 pages. So basically, there’s a novel out now. A short novel, but a novel. Only the romance fans aren’t sure about it because it’s fantasy, and the fantasy fans don’t know about it because it’s erotic. So incredibly frustrating.

…Anyone know gay-friend fantasy book review sites? >.<

Just for kicks, the series is:

Dragon Hunted

Getting eaten by a dragon wasn’t part of Ashe’s plan. Not that there was much of a plan to begin with, but it had definitely involved more chasing and less running. Ashe supposes there’s one good thing about all this: if he has to be trapped in a cave with a very large predator outside, at least he’s with Katsu, the company medic and Ashe’s current crush.

Even better, Katsu has enough knowledge of dragons and medicine that he might just be able to hatch an escape plan. Even better than that, Ashe is discovering that Katsu might not dislike him after all. It’s a small step, Ashe hopes, from not disliking him to something significantly more. That is, assuming they don’t get eaten first.

Dragon Traders

Getting abducted by slavers wasn’t part of the plan. Not that there was much of a plan to begin with, but it definitely involved more payment and fewer chains. Ashe can’t help but feel a bit of panic when the meeting to sell dragon eggs, which were hunted down weeks earlier, turns sour, and he ends up drugged, caged, and on his way to a land where elves are pets.

To make matters worse, the only person who has a chance of saving him is Katsu. Katsu, who after two weeks of sex is still an enigma. Katsu, who isn’t exactly the best combatant on the team. Ashe can only hope that this enigma might still have a few tricks up his sleeve, or Ashe’s fate is sealed.

Dragon Hatching

Becoming a host for a parasitic dragon wasn’t part of the plan. Actually, there wasn’t really any plan to begin with, but when the dragon egg hatches, Ashe figures it’s time to come up with one.

Katsu’s plans are failing miserably. His vast medical knowledge isn’t helping Ashe’s dragon situation, he’s having problems staying detached, and the other mercenaries are concerned about their lifeforce being sucked dry and want Ashe to leave. Katsu is determined that if Ashe leaves, so will he. First, though, he has to make sure that his people aren’t killed in battle… something they seem determined to do.

The first two in the series are 20% off right now, too!

And for the record, they’re actually selling well… I would just like them to get to a bigger audience. They’re good!

J



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So, the other day I was headed to SoCal, about to hop on a plane, and I realized I’d forgotten my book. Oh woe! So I grabbed a lesbian romance off one of Q’s shelves, No Strings by Gerri Hill, and proceeded to read.

About halfway through No Strings, I saw the final Harry Potter movie. I quite liked the movie, but was a little disappointed at the lack of a complete Draco character arc, made more obvious when even Neville got a character transformation. (Generally speaking, a full character arc happens when the character’s behavior/attitude/emotion changes: Neville went from geek to hero, Harry had a complete hero’s arc, as did Snape, Dombledore and — well, most people. Ron went from bumbling bafoon to knight, Hermione from bossy brat to person-Harry-couldn’t-have-figured-things-out-without, and together Ron and Hermione went though a romance arc. Draco, I realized, wasn’t likely to have a hero’s arc — though he could have pretty easily — but I figured he’d have some arc. Instead, he’s the same sad little coward character walking out of the movie he is walking into the series. This made me really glum, because of all the characters there — except maybe Voldemort, but obviously his character arc was a mortal one — Draco had the most potential for real change.)

Feeling put out that the character with the most potential for real change didn’t get any change, I emailed DK, who was way into HP back in the day and likes the things I like, and asked for some Draco fic that had a complete character arc so my craving was satisfied. DK delivered! Among other things was an awesome Harry/Draco slash fic. (Slash indicates queer-of-some-sort romance, be it lesbian, gay, or trans.)

So I read this novel-length fanfic that had several complete character arcs (very well done; I understand the author is published now, and I might just look up her books) and was also slash.

THEN I went back and finished No Strings.

I quite liked the first half of No Strings, all the character development stuff and then them getting to know each other. Then the romance-plot stuff kicked in, and I pretty much skimmed through the rest of it. This is normal for me and romance novels; I like the bits learning about the characters, and I don’t really bother with the romance part. I started writing romance novels because I was writing slash, but slash is… different. Reading slash and reading romance right on top of each other really brought it home for me. DK linked me this blog post not too long ago, and most of it I’d already sorted out, but one thing in there — I think it was in there — was talking about how slash isn’t set into a specific genre formula yet, how you can do pretty much anything you want. Not so with romance. I also find it interesting that the lesbian romances I’ve read are definitely romance novel formula, but the gay romance isn’t. Often, yes, the published stuff is, but then you have books like mine. By Degrees is about overcoming major past trauma (the death of parents), opening up your emotions so you can come to grips with the fact that you’re gay and you can have sex and feel again. Oh, and by the way, there’s a romance that is the catalyst for that plot. In the Rough is about dealing with more past trauma (I have a theme, okay? *grins*) so he can get his shit together and take care of his daughter. Oh yeah, and on the way he realizes he’s in love with his best friend, but has been ignoring it because of self-hate due to — you guessed it — that past trauma. Off Trail is about learning how to trust again and letting people in to help, and the guy he lets in to help just happens to be the guy he falls for. This is definitely more romance-novel than anything else I’ve written in the gay world.

Then there’s the Dragon series, which is all action/adventurey, and in the midst of their action and adventure they start to fall in love.  If I look at my fanfic — the stuff I write not to get paid for, but just because it’s fun — while romance features heavily in it, usually the romance is what’s happening around the main plot. Often the romance is either a catalyst or the result of whatever is going on, but the main thing is what’s going on. In Naruto fic that was Kakashi being insane, in Star Trek it was Kirk and Spock on the run while Kirk has amnesia, in X-Men it was Rictor dealing with child abuse and in X-Men: First Class (if I’d ever gotten around to writing that, which I didn’t) it was multi-pronged: Moira finding Charles, Charles dealing with being a paraplegic, Darwin coming back to life, Alex learning to control his powers and Hank coming to terms with his fuzzziness.

I started writing romance because I thought I WAS writing romance, but the more romance novels I write, the more I chafe. I realized, when I read those two books side by side, I wasn’t writing No Strings back when I was thrilled about writing; I was writing Harry/Draco. Not romance, but slash. The closest thing I’ve found to it in published books is a Tanya Huff book, The Fire’s Stone (very awesome; also the heroes are gay, woo hoo!) and various Sharon Shinn “romantic fantasy” books. Which makes me wonder… have I been very stupid?

I’m looking for an agent for my hetro paranormal romance novel right now. I’m sorta-kinda working on the sequel to it; I had a trilogy planned. They all interest me, but none give me that fire fanfic used to give me. I’ve often thought it was just because, well, fanfic is easier. You don’t have to create the people or the world, you can take what’s been given and run, there’s a built-in audience with, let’s face it, low expectations. Definitely easier.

I’m also working on a fantasy novel. I have little hope that it will get picked up or published anywhere, to be honest, because it’s kind of bizarre and not easily niched. Publishers don’t like that. But wow, I think about it all the time. I can’t sleep for thinking about it. I’ll stop writing for a few days because of stress or businesses or whatever, and when I come back it’s easy to just pick up and keep going. I don’t look at the clock a million times or check my word count to see how far I’ve gotten. There’s a (gay) romance in it, but the main point of the story isn’t the romance. This is how I felt about fanfic, but it’s not fanfic: it’s just as hard as creating anything else from scratch.

What I’m going to do is keep writing it, finish it, and start looking for an agent for it. Then I’ll decide whether to pick back up the romance sequel or write either a sequel to the fantasy (already plotted…) or a new fantasy. I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do. On a practical side, it means I’m probably going to remain training dogs to pay the bills… and I’m so tired of that. I just want to be writing. On the emotional side, at least I’ll be thrilled about what I’m writing, rather than in this occasionally-excited, kind of pleased, wondering when I’ll be done state. I’ve really missed being thrilled.

Maybe it’ll work out. I don’t know. I’m just feeling a little frustrated, I guess.

J
(cross-posted to my everyday life blog)



{July 19, 2011}   Trans stuff

(Written over several days, starting Monday morning…)

I had a minor breakdown yesterday (okay, probably not so minor from the point of Q, who did the hug-and-rock thing for close to an hour). It’s not that there’s anything big going on in my life (little sister getting married, trying to shift from training to writing, finding an agent, business suddenly DYING — which was finally explained and rectified — trying to send business Q’s way and training her to take over when I’m ready to shift to full-time writing, concerns over alcoholic tendencies… no, nothing big…), but there’s a lot of little things (busy times, little to no down time, struggling with finding time to blog, two friends transitioning and trying to remember new pronouns, a friend having a baby, lots of traveling, new website, lots of deadlines to be met, trouble sleeping).

I have this blog for All Things Queer And Especially Femme, and a general life-stuff blog, and I haven’t had a chance to write in either of them in too long. It crowds my head.

I have two friends, DK and Nezu, who are recently FTM. It’s been interesting, from my perspective. All sorts of strange little cultural-sexism stuff has been cropping up for me. Nothing painful, but bits that make me go, “…fascinating.” (I just need pointy ears, now. I’ve got the “live long and prosper” fingers down pat.)

For instance, I was talking clothes the other day — I’d gotten who knows what that I was tickled about — with Nezu, who has never been anything but interested and supportive. And yet suddenly, I found myself cutting the topic short, and doing something that wasn’t quite a thank-you-for-listening or a self-dismissal, but it was awfully close. Close enough to stick in my mind as a combination of the two.

Now, lest you think Nezu had somehow triggered that, he didn’t. At all. In fact, when I heard myself saying whatever I was saying, I stopped and re-took up the topic, and Nezu went along with that, too. But it made me start noticing the way I talk to men vs women, and I noticed that even with my male friends I generally edit. Part of that is politeness; I don’t want to bore people with things they don’t care about. But a bigger part of it is definitely a clear-cut idea of what aren’t “men’s” topics, and a tendency to defer to what a guy would rather talk about — even if it doesn’t particularly interest me. (Note that I don’t want to bore someone with things that don’t interest them, but it’s okay to bore myself with things that don’t interest me. Hmmm.)

For instance: during the above conversation with Nezu, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t boring him. Nezu has a keen eye for color and design; he’s very much the artist, and will point clothes or things out to me that he thinks I’d like. If only from an artist standpoint, he seems to enjoy clothes and fashion. (From a human standpoint, he likes those clothes on people, too! ;-D) My sudden desire, then, to switch the topic, had nothing to do with whether or not Nezu was interested in it, because he was, which means it had to do with cultural sexism and my assumptions about what a guy would be interested in and deferring to that.

Fascinating.

There’s other things that have cropped up, too. An acquaintance of mine, D, is also transitioning FTM. He’s recently started hormones, though when the below happened I didn’t know that — I didn’t even know he was FTM. The last I’d seen him, he was butch but not — to my knowledge — trans. So Q and I were at Sundance, and I saw him out of the corner of my eye. It was clearly D, and yet something in my head went, “Ah, male.”

Know what it was? Pockmarks. D had started testosterone and his skin had broken out, healing with faint (not unattractive) pockmarks, like guys in their late teens and early twenties get. I’m guessing D is early to mid twenties, so it definitely fit. When we walked up and Q said, “Hey, S!” D said, “It’s D now.” We had a quickie conversation to sort out new pronouns and butch or trans, and then that was done. So it wasn’t until after I’d mentally categorized him as male that I learned he was FTM. I thought it was kind of funny that, in my head, apparently acne scars are a gender marker.

I’m also constantly flubbing pronouns with DK and Nezu (this is making my little perfectionist self CRAZY), which I figure is normal, but at the same time I’m treating them more like I treat guys. This leads me to two thoughts:

1. Oh, hey, cultural sexism! Fascinating.

2. At least, despite the word-flubs of my conscious mind, I’m subconsciously categorizing them as male?

Another funny thing. DK is my ex; I think I’ve mentioned that. When we started dating, DK was identifying as lesbian (or bi; now I can’t quite remember. It was too long ago!), then about a year into dating she discovered butch and was identifying as that, and then after we stopped dating she started identifying as he. (Note how I use ‘she’ while I’m talking about the past, and then suddenly it’s ‘he’. Later when I’m talking about doing this, you’ll understand what the heck I’m talking about!)

Here is an issue I didn’t really expect: while I would totally date a trans person, because DK was the first woman I dated, she — as she — was an important part of my coming-out identity and process. Now, perhaps I’m kidding myself and anyone I had previously dated transitioning would bother me; it’s only happened this once, so I really don’t know. But I don’t THINK so. This wasn’t just someone I’d dated, this was my first female, the person who made me realize I was more bi than not, and then more lesbian than bi (the jury is still out on whether I identify as bi or lesbian. I identify as femme and queer and leave it at that!), and for my first eye-opening girlfriend to suddenly be just another boyfriend… well, that was a challenge, I have to admit. So, he and I had the following conversation on Sunday:

Me: I need to ask you something.
DK: Okay! Shoot!
Nezu: *comes wandering up*
Me: …uh… privately… (because I was pretty sure about DK’s reaction, but it seems most polite to ask without an audience, y’know?)
Nezu: *Wanders off, poor thing*
DK: *now looking extremely curious and kinda bemused*
Me: Well, I guess it doesn’t need to be that private… we are in the middle of a crowd… anyway. *thinks* When we were dating, you were a girl.
DK: *who, luckily, speaks JB and realizes that kind of is the question and starts to chuckle* You can out me. It’s okay.
Me: OH PHEW.

So then, this morning, I was on the phone with Q talking about something to do with when DK and I were dating, and I realized mid-conversation that I was swapping between he and she pronouns, depending on the… er, timestamp on the memory. I mean, if I was talking about DK when we were dating, I was saying she (and sometimes using the name DK was using then), and in the very next breath I’d say something about, for instance, seeing DK Sunday and I was back to male pronouns.

I can’t decide if this is good or bad (DK may well read this and have his own opinion, in which case I’m sure he’ll let me know), if it’s going to confuse me more or make me start thinking of DK-my-ex and DK-my-girlfriend as two different people or just clarify things in my own head… but there you have it, it’s weirdly automatic.

Given it’s all pretty new, I figure it’s very much in a state of flux for a while — for both me and DK, as we start to feel differently about things. In a year, DK may not want to be outed anymore! I dunno. We’ll sort it out.

Wow. All right, that’s it for now. I have lots more to say, but I need to write the third short story in my gay fantasy series. (The first is out, the second comes out on Aug 17, and the third is in progress! 😀 Check out my fancy cover for the first and second ones! …The first one is linked to the short story, if you’re interested, and it’s only $2.99. >.>)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off I go!

JB



I’m a perfectionist. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been around for any length of time. I’m a perfectionist, and I have four blogs, and I’m being run off my feet lately between dog training and novel writing (two new gay short stories coming out soon, a small series! Each story is about 15,000 words — figure there’s 250 words per page in an average paperback — and fantasy. With hot guy sex. WOO HOO!), so I haven’t had much of a chance to update anything. Which makes the perfectionist part of me GO RABID. Seriously.

Also, I haven’t been reading all the fun gender stuff I WAS reading. The thing is, I don’t entirely miss it. Part of that has to do with being (finally) comfortable in my own gender and not needing the validation anymore, and part of it is going gay two-stepping and no longer craving to hear other voices like my own.

Quin and I go to Texas Rose (all women two-step in Oakland) and Sundance Salloon (.org, in San Fran) as often as possible — usually a couple of times a month, I think. Sundance is same-sex, and mostly gay men. (I keep having a post I want to write about being there, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet…)  But there’s a hefty number of lesbians, and of those a large number of them are butch or FtMs (so… not-lesbians, but I hope like hell you know what I mean because I’m one minute over and don’t have time to write carefully if I want this posted. >.<). Basically, lots of people who are queer and other-gendered. I fit in. I feel comfortable.

I no longer feel the need to read everything I can get my hands on; I’m around my own people. It’s nice.

I’d like to write more, but I’m a minute late, now. *sighs*

J



So, first I was crazy busy, starting the editing process on my new book and trying to remember how to schedule time when training dogs and editing, and then I got a sniffle, and then I got the flu, and then I got pneumonia.

Healthy, fit 30-year-olds are not supposed to get pneumonia.

Anyway, I’m on antibiotics now, and after almost two weeks flat on my back wishing for death, I’m getting better. Woot! (I still have a cough that sounds like a death rattle. No, really. It’s starting to ease off.)

I haven’t seen my Q in quite a while. We both agreed it was in her best interests NOT to get the flu or to pass it on to her 7-year-old twins. Them’s not fun times (and I don’t think their mom would EVER forgive me). (Q is not their mom. Q is their butch-parent, and they also have a mom-mom.)

During our forever separation (it totally felt that way!), she sent me a lovely email about the first time I wore lingere for her. I remember that day, because I was scared shitless! I was so nervous. I mean, this was back last fall, when I was still a bundle of nerves when it came to doing anything a little bit assertive. I’m still not the most assertive person in the world, and I get flustered and embarrassed easily, but when I remember how I was even last fall I realize how far I’ve come!

Anyway, all this to say — last fall I pulled out my red negligee for Quin for the first time, and surprised her. And even knowing that she was going to love it, man, I just about had a panic attack doing it! So last week, when we hadn’t seen each other in so long, I got this fabulous email out of the blue. This is part of it:

I was just thinking this morning about when you asked me if I wanted to see your new shoes. When you finally walked out to show them to me, I looked up from cooking in the kitchen to see you wearing, much to my surprise, red negligee and red high heels. I about fell over in the kitchen. When you saw the enraptured look on my face, you released a belly laugh full of amusement …. and relief. You were so nervous that you were literally shaking in your shoes. Even after I came to you and had you sitting on my lap, caressing and enjoying the wonderful present of you in gift wrap — my approval and enthusiasm totally obvious — you continued to tremble. I showered you with praise about how gorgeous and sexy you were, and what a treat you were giving me. You threw your arms around my neck, while still straddling my lap, and gave me a big hug and buried your face in my neck — still trembling a little, still nervous, but so relieved to see how much pleasure it brought me. […]

That was right after my first trip to Colorado — early May 2010. I know because you sent me a picture text message showing off the new high heels you’d just purchased while I was still in CO (I still have that picture). You were very excited about them. And I’m writing all this to say that even now, ten months after the fact, I’m still so very proud of you for having the gumption to walk into the living room like that: defenseless and exposed, shaking like a leaf, and terrified that I might have a negative response. It was a brave and gutsy move that took a lot of courage on your part. It wasn’t just a big step for you…it was a *giant* leap of faith; faith that I wouldn’t let you down or be disappointed (and how could I be?); faith that you were sexy.

It was fantastic. YOU were fantastic. And I am proud of you and so honored that you trust me with so much of who you are and who you are becoming.

I can’t tell you how much this letter makes me puff up and feel good. It was probably one of the biggest leaps forward I took all in one night, and it was really hard. So to get something like this so long after the fact, that makes me grin and feel proud of myself, is pretty awesome.

I think one of the things that, a year after we first started dating, makes Q and I continue to have such fun is this constant love, praise, and appreciation we shower on each other. We’ve both been really careful not to just get used to things, to start to expect things. We make it a point to notice when one or the other is going out of their way and mention it, from simple things like getting a glass of water to big things, like Q coming down and surprising me this last week.

Oh yeah, she came down and surprised me this last week. I was napping on the couch, still sick, when I heard a knock at the door. I stumbled up and opened it, and for a moment could only look at the nice young man and wonder how he’d known to go through the gate, and gee, wasn’t he attractive… and then I realized it was Q! *laughs* What a gift to open the door and see her there, when I hadn’t seen her in so long and wasn’t expecting her at all. It made me feel really warm and fuzzy. 😀

Things are going spectacularly. 😀 😀 😀

J



So, I was reading this sci fi novel — a really good sci fi novel, that except for this bit I’d rec to anyone. Even on a social level I loved it — the level of racism, sexism, etc. There are a few minor things that I never would have noticed if I hadn’t been so involved in these things lately, but even then — I was pretty impressed! The book is really a joy to read. I want to stress that, because I’m about to bitch about part of it. 😉

Anyway, I was reading this book that I love (except for the quibble I’ll tell you about any minute now),  and then I hit this bit. Let me set the scene: Our Hero is an ex-military guy, under 28, who is Heroic. Our Heroine is 19, and pretty awesome.  They are slowly making googly eyes at each other. (Okay, sort of.) Our Heroine is talking to another character, Pam (another of Our Heroines, actually — it’s a large cast), about Our Hero.  Pam says the following:

“Just a warning — if you do start radiating make-a-move signals and Mike does try something, it’s not going to be a cuddle and a kiss on the cheek he has in mind, you know. Not that he wouldn’t take no for an answer, but he might be really pissed off if you suddenly got cold feet.”(1)

Later in the book, they do a little more than make googly eyes at each other, and she does call it off.

[Scene opens with:]

“I can’t! I’m sorry, so sorry!” (2)
[cue description of what’s going on, because that was the scene opener]
“Look, it’s OK!”
No it isn’t,
he thought, and his voice probably gave the words the lie.(3) [cue her apologizing again, him reassuring her and telling her to go back to camp.]
“Mike–”
“Signe, I said head on down.
He waited until her footsteps had faded in the darkness before he drew his sword and looked at the twisted stump at the foot of the rock that blocked off the view to the west.
“Is it worth the risk to the blade?” he murmured. “Yes.” A pause for thought. “Hell yes.”
Then he spent twenty minutes of methodical ferocity hacking the hard sun-dried wood into matchstick splinters. (4)
[end scene]

Now, let me just take a look at what I learned:

(1) It is expected that men would be pissed if you start making out and say ‘no,’ even if you don’t want sex when you start making out. Not only expected, but okay. Women should be warned of this, because it will be their fault. Furthermore, if you’re making out with a man they will expect sex, not just making out, and saying no will make them pissed off. See above.

(2) Saying no is cause for extreme anxiety, and women should feel really bad about doing it.

(3) Even if a man says it’s okay, he’ll be lying. It’s not okay to say no.

(4) Saying no will result in you being sent away because the guy can’t stand to look at you, due to the fact that he is so turned on (which, again, is your fault for not going through with it). Furthermore, the man will be so upset that he has to do violence to anything that’s around.

Now, the thing is, this trope isn’t uncommon. In fact, our stories are rife with it. And I shouldn’t say ‘men’ because in my mind, it’s always ‘whoever you are with.’ I still have problems saying no to Q, even though she’s never given me any indication she wishes I would say yes. (That’s what vibrators are for, but apparently Our Heroes have broken hands and can’t just jack off.) (In a related note, have I mentioned lately how awesome Q is about my occasional moments of flailing? Because she’s been so awesome and the pressure is off that I need to Get Better Now/Be Perfect Now, I’ve been able to just relax and enjoy myself, and my moments of flailing are getting milder, fewer, and farther between.)

There is something seriously wrong with our culture, that this is the norm. That this is what we’re teaching people. Both for men and women — what guy wants to know that he should be this upset about a woman saying no, that he should be so incredibly into it that he’d be angry or in pain if you couldn’t just make out?

I’ve heard the feminist concept that all sex is rape, and I don’t agree with it at all. However, I read things like this and I understand it. How can you say that sex is consensual when we’re taught that saying no will result in bad things happening? *sighs* It’s very frustrating.

On the other hand, it’s making me a one woman army. I write romance novels, as I think you all know, and I’m very aware of my sex scenes and when my heroes are pushing — and therefore aware to make them not push. I once read a novel by Jude Deveroux, one of my favorite romance authors (because her heroes are guys I just want to hug), and her heroine was a romance novel author. There was a period of time where the “in” thing for heroes was to have them rape the heroines. Supposedly it showed how studly and masculine they were. So in this book, the Heroine (an author) tells her editor, “But he can’t rape the heroine! He’s the good guy!” Or something similar. I nearly killed myself laughing, because I always thought the same thing — and I so very much suspected that was a discussion Jude and her editor had had.

Anyway. Sex is fucked up in our culture, you know that? Have any of you read Twilight? Did you know that it, and many many many many other YA books, romanticize being stalked, emotionally abused, and in other books physically abused? In the Twilight series, he stalks her, climbs into her room to stand over her bed, tells her who she can and can’t be friends with, yells at her, and in other similar books there’s that — and even pushing, kidnapping, etc. And people say, “But it’s okay, because it’s love.” I’m sorry, but love is NOT abuse. It is not stalking, screaming, pushing, or controlling.  It is listening, trusting, accepting, and stepping back when someone asks. And yet, we’re teaching our young women that this is okay, if the guy says he loves you.

*sighs* There’s a whole host of other authors who have spoken about this far more eloquently than I feel I can, and I can dig up links for anyone who asks. (Of note, though, I’d recommend Bookshop, who is a book blogger and very good.)

I really love the book I’m reading. The bit that I copied out is probably the worst written, and out of character to be honest. This is such a good book, and I was so sad to see that. (Though out of, so far, 300 pages that’s the only bit that’s really dinged my bell. There were other minor things — there always are — but nothing else that really got me.)

Hmm. Maybe I ought to make my next writing column about this. 😉

J



{October 20, 2010}   Short story

Just a brief post, here. My gay publisher, Torquere Press, has a blog that their authors are allowed to guest-publish on for story promotion and so on. Today, the author opened it up to all of us to celebrate the repeal of DADT, so I said I’d post a short story.

I wrote one last night, not romantic, just a tiny little fiction story, but I’m actually quite pleased with it. I don’t often write short stories — more often I write “short” stories that are closer to 20 pages — so the fact that this one came out so nicely pleases me. 😀 If you’d like to check it out, it’s here: Numbers. The opening:

The cards kept blurring out of focus. He blinked, staring at them, trying to notice what he held.

A pair, and useless additional cards of each color. His mind skittered off the cards before he could take in the numbers.

They swam in front of his eyes to the beat of his heart. His skin flushed under the sun. A drumroll hammered in his ears; thrum-thrum. Thrum-thrum. Thrum-thrum. His mind was filled and blank, all at once. He’d been in battle, had survived gunfire and bombs.

“Drake?”

His head snapped up. Around the trunk they were using as a table, five pairs of eyes watched him.

Also, today is the day to wear purple for anti-bullying. This is a no-bullying-tolerance zone. Hooray!

J



{June 9, 2010}   Writing!

This doesn’t really have to do with my femme identity, or anything else femme, but it is gay! Tomorrow I’m writing on the Torquere Press Blog, complete with talking about my new novel coming out, an old novel already out, a short story I hope to sell to Torquere soon, and a couple of paragraphs of a smutty excerpt at the end of the day. As of July 14th I’ll have four novels, one novella, and a short story (likely soon to be two — or even three) out. Of those, three of the novels and the short story(ies) are m/m romance, and one novel and the novella are m/f romance. So. Yes. I’m quite proud of myself. 😀

If you’d like to go read, or just enjoy m/m smut, I’d love to have you!

J



et cetera