A fantastic piece describing the mid-range of what occurred yesterday to me.
The wounds from that thing yesterday will be festering sores for years.
It’s just the way many autistics work. It’s how I do.
A fantastic piece describing the mid-range of what occurred yesterday to me.
The wounds from that thing yesterday will be festering sores for years.
It’s just the way many autistics work. It’s how I do.
I’m sitting here cuddling my sick son. Wondering how badly the world is going to chew him up and spit him out because he’s autistic. Just like I am. It’ll be bad. I know that. The world is going to break him. I would let it break me, over and over and over again to spare him this pain. I’d let the world tear into me, over and over again if I could just spare my kids from feeling like this.
It’s why I’m talking about this right now, when I’d really, really rather not. When I’d just as soon leave the internet and stop tilting at the windmills of allistic society in a vain hope of educating people enough about autism that they don’t hurt my kids.
The world is going to take fat, wet bites out of both of my kids and leave them scarred. They’ll develop massive mental illness problems because of how they’re wired and because allistic society doesn’t bother to try to understand how autistics think, communicate and feel.
It’s been an absolutely terrible 24 hours for me. I lost my temper and wrote a blog post about marginalized readers, privileged writers and THINKING about what you write and why you’re writing it.
A couple of people I thought might eventually be people I could call friends attacked me for it.
They didn’t explain how it hurt them. They just… attacked me for it on twitter. I admit, I got defensive, but I don’t know a single person on the face of the planet who wouldn’t when you have three or four people who you thought might be okay people suddenly in your mentions claiming you’re a harmful person.
Without making it crystal clear exactly how they came to that conclusion.
I mean. They could’ve explained? Instead of clinging to hurt feelings and twisted meanings of my words? Instead of being sarcastic and just telling me not to read their books? Instead of being angry and hurtful when I said over, and over, and over again that ‘I do NOT understand’ and ‘How did I do that?’
They all knew I’m autistic. But they treated me exactly like they would another allistic.
Their expectations were exactly the ones they’d have expected from another allistic.
Their reactions did not take into account that I don’t perceive or understand things the same way they do. Which does not make me stupid by the way. I’m a tested and certified genius, for what it’s worth (which is absolutely nothing). It just means I’m wired differently.
They expected me to process the sarcasm they used as ‘you hurt me’. Instead of saying THESE WORDS YOU USED HERE HURT ME AND THIS IS WHY.
They expected screenshots of my words as receipts to give me some clue as to why they were hurt.
Does that actually work for allistics? It doesn’t for many autistics. It doesn’t for me.
They expected me not to react when four people were in my mentions accusing me of terrible things. Only autistics aren’t allowed to react to that you know. Quite a double standard there.
They expected me to be ABLE to process the information as fast as they could throw it at me. Which, like… I can’t.
Actually cannot. It takes me longer to process written information because I’m dyslexic. (A common comorbidity with autism.)
I’ve since been accused of using my neurodiversity as a shield for me being a dick.
Except I apologized, both publicly and privately to the person I hurt the most. If I could AT all wrap my head around how I hurt the one who hurt ME the most, I’d apologize there too.
But I don’t get it, no one wants to explain it and fuck me. Aren’t I allowed to be hurt and angry too?
No. Of course not. I’m autistic. I wrote the blog post that got twisted to hell and gone. I’m not allowed anything.
I have not received any apologies. I have received correction, for which I’m grateful. I am SO grateful for people when the call me on my bullshit. I’m human, I’m quite capable of making mistakes. I’m also capable of learning when I fuck up.
But I truly did NOT understand how my words could be twisted so. Still don’t, for what it’s worth.
You know. When you’re autistic, you’re not allowed any room to be autistic. It’s why we mask so much.
We process information differently. We communicate differently, but the second you prove you’re not allistic?
You’ll get attacked. Especially on social media. This has happened so many times to me. It’s so fucking exhausting.
I’m coining a hashtag. #GuiltyOfBeingAutisticOnSocialMedia
It’s so long it won’t catch on, but it’s so freaking common, and not just for me. SO, SO many autistics have been in my mentions the past 24 hours offering support, telling me their stories of similar experiences and also… telling me that the blog post did, in fact, say exactly what I meant it to say.
Now… I DO mean exactly what I said in that post. There is NO ulterior motive, no hidden meaning. I wrote it when I was angry and I wasn’t as clear as I could have been in some ways. I edited it for clarity after the fact and all edits are labeled as such. It makes it rather a mess to read, but I don’t want to be accused of changing anything to cover my ass on top of everything else I’ve been accused of being the past 24 hours.
I don’t understand how allistics can’t understand that many autistics communicate using words we ACTUALLY mean. And nothing more.
Like… twisting an autistic person’s words is just flabbergasting. Most of us TRULY don’t mean more than what we say, with the EXACT words we used. We don’t mean the opposite, we don’t mean twisted and turned meanings, there is no undertone to our words. Because we’re not allistic.
Allistics don’t tend to communicate the same way, and I think that is the source of the problems I ran into? Maybe? There’s always this subtext to allistic communication that autistics both don’t catch and are for most of us, incapable of comprehending.
Yes. I needed to wait to post that until I wasn’t angry and could’ve proofed it for clarity. My opinions are strong, I’m blunt and I say things people really don’t want to hear.
Like some stories aren’t yours to tell. People really hate hearing that one, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Especially, OMG especially white writers. Truly, they HATE hearing that one. If you chose to write a story, did your research and due diligence, of course you can write what you want. Even if it isn’t your story to tell. There aren’t any publishing police, no one is going to arrest you for it.
It’s your responsibility if you hurt someone too.
But yes, I’ve learned that the least I can do is make sure I proof posts for clarity before I release them onto the world.
Someone I regard as a friend said they could see how the post could be twisted and it doesn’t mean what I think it means.
I know what I meant. I SAID what I meant.
Even if I can’t understand the twisting, I can understand that some people will take my words and turn them into what they want them to mean rather than what I actually meant.
Isn’t that where asking for clarification is supposed to come into play?
The basic building blocks of communication?
“Hey, did you MEAN what I THINK you meant?’ < Clear question of intent.
“Oh, gods no, I didn’t mean that! THIS is what I meant.’ < Explanation of actual intent
‘Oh, cool. Glad I asked, cause if you’d meant that it would’ve hurt me a lot. We good?’ < Acceptance that they needed to ask for clarification, explanation.
‘Yeah. We good, oh and man, I’m so sorry if I hurt you, it was totally unintentional.’ < ^^Acceptance and apology.
‘S’okay. I forgive you. You didn’t know.’ < Acceptance and apology.
You have now communicated. Level up! (I’m a gamer, I’m exhausted, in a fibromyalgia flare from emotional stress and massively hurt, down to my soul from this latest of blows from being autistic on social media.)
I think one of the ways the world is going to hurt my children the most is the ways in which it’s hurt me the most.
It takes my words, it twists them, it assumes meaning that isn’t there, then it penalizes me for what people THINK I said.
When I was trying so damned hard to be clear with my words too.
You know… there’s an old saw.
Assuming. When you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME.
They assumed, and turned us all into asses.
I assumed that people would read the actual words on the page, and turned us all into asses.
And you know? I already know this post will be used as yet more evidence that I’m using my autism as a shield from me being a dick.
I’m not trying to. I’m trying to explain how I think, what I perceived as it was going down, and why it happened. I’m trying to make sense of it all, so maybe I can keep it from happening again.
I’m trying to learn how to guide my kids so they don’t get hurt by the world as much as do.
I AM wired differently. If that’s using my brain as a shield it’ll be awfully messy. Brains go squish.
But it’s sort of like a sighted person screaming at a blind person to LOOK, SEE. The blind person cannot.
It’s like being furious at a deaf person because they can’t hear what you can.
It’s like screaming at a person who cannot walk to get up and run.
I don’t often consider my autistic brain to be a disability. I love my brain, it’s awesome. I love what I can do and learn and perceive with it.
Today though? I’m well aware that I AM at a disadvantage when trying to communicate to allistics.
And so are my kids.
Because society makes no accommodation at all for differences.
Which is ableistic as fuck.
By Rachel Dacus
Fiery Seas Publishing
January 23, 2018
Time Travel Romance
May Gold, college adjunct, often dreams about the subject of her master’s thesis – Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies she’s in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man who invented the Baroque.
But in reality, May has just landed in Rome with her teaching colleagues and older boyfriend who is paying her way. She yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit, and when the floor under the gilded dome of St Peter’s basilica rocks under her feet, she gets her chance. Walking through the veil that appears, she finds herself in the year 1624, staring straight into Bernini’s eyes. Their immediate and powerful attraction grows throughout May’s tour of Italy. And as she continues to meet her ethereal partner, even for brief snatches of time, her creativity and confidence blossom. All the doorways to happiness seem blocked for May-all except the shimmering doorway to Bernini’s world.
May has to choose: stay in her safe but stagnant existence, or take a risk. Will May’s adventure in time ruin her life or lead to a magical new one?
ISBN: 978-1-946143-41-9 ~ eBook ~ $6.99
ISBN: 978-1-946143-42-6 ~ Paperback ~ $16.99
~ Praise for The Renaissance Club ~
Enchanting, rich and romantic…a poetic journey through the folds of time. In THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, passion, art, and history come together in this captivating tale of one woman’s quest to discover her true self and the life she’s meant to lead. Rachel Dacus deftly crafts a unique and spellbinding twist to the time-traveling adventure that’s perfect for fans of Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon. — Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author
The Renaissance Club is a beautifully written story about a woman torn between two worlds—the present and the distant past. This time-travel adventure kept me guessing until the end about which world May would choose, and if that choice would be the right one. Highly recommended for lovers of time travel fiction or anyone looking for a compelling story about a woman trying to find happiness. — Annabelle Costa, Author of The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend.
The Renaissance Club shimmers with beauty, poetry, and art. Author Rachel Dacus sweeps her readers away to Italy with her, lifting the senses with the sights, sounds, and tastes of that stunning country; imparting her deep knowledge of Renaissance and Baroque art while immersing the reader in a gorgeously romantic story. This book is time travel at its best! — Georgina Young-Ellis, author of The Time Mistress Series
Rachel Dacus is the daughter of a bipolar rocket engineer who blew up a number of missiles during the race-to-space 1950’s. He was also an accomplished painter. Rachel studied at UC Berkeley and has remained in the San Francisco area. Her most recent book, Gods of Water and Air, combines poetry, prose, and a short play on the afterlife of dogs. Other poetry books are Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau.
Her interest in Italy was ignited by a course and tour on the Italian Renaissance. She’s been hooked on Italy ever since. Her essay “Venice and the Passion to Nurture” was anthologized in Italy, A Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience. When not writing, she raises funds for nonprofit causes and takes walks with her Silky Terrier. She blogs at Rocket Kid Writing.
Guest post By Rachel Dacus
Why Love Stories Need Happy Endings
Because if we don’t believe in the power of love, what do we have to live for?
Because love really does outlast everything. Once you’ve felt it, you never forget.
Because where you end a story is arbitrary. Life doesn’t always end in the right place. But you can always choose to believe in a happy ending if you look back far enough.
Because love is the only unending story.
Because ending is an arbitrary construct that often deprives life of meaning. Meaning is what matters.
“Because love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside.” – Lin-Manuiel Miranda, accepting the Tony Award for Hamilton.
Because the day is long and when we read at night, we really need to go to sleep happy.
Because a romance story ALWAYS has a happy ending—and there’s a reason why it’s the bestselling genre of novel in America. That might just be it.
Because, c’mon, we all believe in love, and even if it hasn’t worked out, we just know one day it will. For someone, if not for us. And following her story, that makes it for us.
The Renaissance Club’s love story has the possibility of different endings in time—but you’d have to read it to find out which one is the happy ending. Or are they both?
Content warning bad words and loud opinions.
EDIT: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST ON A CRUTCH. Non-autistic readers, I am AUTISTIC, I mean ONLY what I’m saying with the words that are on the page. I am not IMPLYING anything. There is NO HIDDEN MESSAGE. Y’all have caused me to have an emotional meltdown with your accusations.
If I wanted to SAY don’t write something, I would say DON’T WRITE SOMETHING.
I was trying to convince myself not to write this post. I’m so flipping MAD right now, and I try not to emote too much when I’m mad. But I feel maybe I need to write this post. Both for me and for other marginalized readers.
Right now on Twitter there’s a kerfluffle in the m/m romance and erotica community. I don’t even know what originally started it and honestly, other than rabid curiosity I don’t care that much.
I was vaguely aware of the dust-up but was ignoring it. I’ve got sequels to write and art to do and I just don’t have the time.
Until a former mutual made the mistake of saying readers should judge a book BY the book instead of by the author’s ID.
This was in regards to m/m romance.
No. Nope. Niet. Nix. Nie. Nein. No fucking way.
First point. It’s awfully fucking privileged to say that to a marginalized reader. And if you’re saying it on Twitter? You’re saying it to marginalized readers. We’re kinda everywhere there. You know?
It’s how we tend to get book recommendations.
Oh, yeah, I’m marginalized, I’m a special little snowflake. I’m mixed race, (White European, Brown European, First Nations Mic’maq/Mohawk, Hispanic and Black. I’m queer as a three dollar bill (pansexual, kinky, asexual, grey-aromantic non-binary trans), I’m mentally ill, I’m chronically ill (fibromyalgia and EDS), I’m autistic… there’s probably more stuff I’m forgetting.
I NEED NEED NEED NEED good representation of my marginalizations. I need it like I need water to drink or air to breathe.
I need to see myself in fiction. In the pages of a book, on the screen. I need this so much.
And people are daring to tell me I shouldn’t care who writes the book?
Look. Don’t go off from here thinking I’m insisting every author out themselves. I’m not. It’s NOT a safe world to be any sort of marginalized author and I will never, ever say you have to out yourself.
But you shouldn’t be insisting that I read your books either, if you aren’t going to be out. If you absolutely aren’t marginalized? Where the fuck do you get off?
Now… the former mutual in question I know for a fact is an allo cis het vanilla writer of m/m kink. I know, because I asked, that they write it for money and because they fetishize m/m porn.
Whatever… you do you. Write your books, take your lumps if you fuck it up. Just like any other author on the face of the planet. She gets to choose what she writes, and what she doesn’t and honestly? I could really care less.
But don’t tell me I have to read it. Don’t tell me or any other marginalized reader that it’ll be just as good as queer fiction.
I don’t have to read it and it almost certainly won’t be. I read a lot of queer fiction, I read a lot of het fiction too… there’s just SOMETHING about queer written fiction for queers that is so authentic and perfect and can’t be faked by a het. It just can’t be. That doesn’t make het written queer books BAD. It just makes them something I don’t want to read.
The same goes for EVERY one of my marginalizations, I can tell when it’s own voices work, and I can tell when the author hasn’t done their due diligence.
I do not in any way have to judge a book by the book itself, not if it’s written about one of my marginalizations.
Because historically marginalized people have had books written ABOUT us. They aren’t written FOR us. And trust me, there is a huge damned difference.
Do you know what doing that is? That’s profiting off the backs of our very existence, while edging us out of publishing, because when you’re white, cis, allo, het you AUTOMATICALLY HAVE A LEG UP IN THIS INDUSTRY.
And often? The books aren’t that good. They’re just not. Even IF the author hasn’t fucked it up, (and a lot of them really DO, see my ass sex post for just ONE of the ways they fuck it up) they completely miss the nuance that marginalized authors bring to their work.
Because they don’t live it, they cannot, as in they are NOT capable of actually repping that. I mean, how could they be?
No amount of research in the world can give you lived experience.
Research can keep you from fucking it up (dear gods I hope, anyway) but it can’t let you know what it FEELS like to be autistic, or queer, or mentally ill, or mixed race, or disabled or (insert marginalization).
It just can’t.
We as authors of things, especially queer things, do need to make room for people who are exploring their queerness. Identity is weird everyone, it really is. Writing is often a way to find out that oh, hey, wow, I’m REALLY FUCKING QUEER.
Writing and reading helped me figure out that oh, wait, I’m actually trans and was so heavily socialized as a ‘girl’ that I didn’t know that.
So yes I’m absolutely willing to make room for those baby queers who are exploring. That’s not what this is about, so don’t even start with me about it.
(And you know, I’ve read work by people who *I* could tell they were queer even if they didn’t know it yet, I’ll never forget reading one of my favorite authors and being surprised as hell to find out that they thought they were straight and vanilla. Author came out later that year as being bi and kinky, but after reading their work? I already knew that.)
I’m not gatekeeping with this post. I really don’t care if you want to write marginalizations that aren’t yours. What I do care about is you insisting that we marginalized readers MUST give it a chance. We do not, in any way shape or form owe you that. Frankly, marginalized people don’t owe non-marginalized folks a damned thing.
I once listened to a radio program on the CBC where an older white male writer opined that he thought HE could write what it felt like to be a black woman BETTER THAN A BLACK WOMAN.
Because he was objective and did his research. I swear to gods you can’t make this shit up.
The fucking arrogance is astounding. Truly.
So. How close do you have to be to write it right? (or at least WELL… jeez)
I think that depends on the topic, to be frank.
I really don’t want non-autistic writers writing about autism or having an autistic MC because they’re gonna get it wrong. There is SO MUCH misinformation out there about what an autistic is really like that… yeah, just don’t. Leave that to those of us who live it please and thank you. EDIT: If you absolutely feel compelled to write an autistic MC, HIRE A BLOODY AUTHENTICITY READER.
I think queer people can write pretty much any variety of queer fiction (EDIT: including kinky fiction, kink, trans, ace, etc are all part of the LGBTQQIAAP2 acronym and I don’t understand how that is even a question. Kink is also a part of the QUILTBAG thank you very much), as long as they do their research and employ an authenticity (previously known as sensitivity) reader.
I include m/m sex in my books, yes, absolutely, but every m/m scene I include is beta read by three bi or gay male beta readers. I’ve known them since university and they have no trouble smacking me down if I get it wrong.
Trans fiction is tougher, I’m a little leary saying all queers could write trans fiction because…well… how would all queers know what it feels like to be trans? But they’re probably less likely to fuck it up than a cis person would be.
I think a mentally ill person can probably write most mental illnesses, but maybe not the really badly demonized ones like DID or ASPD or BPD or even ED.
I think for kink? You really need to be kinky/think you’re kinky to be writing it. Not sorry. EDIT: It is POSSIBLE to write kink well without being kinky based on research alone. It may still ring false to a lifestyle kinkster, but as long as it’s not harmful? Enh? Go for it. The reason I’m fussy about this?
POINTS AT ALL THE DAMAGE 50 SHADES OF GAGS HAS DONE.
EDIT: I personally know people who will bear lifelong emotional and physical scars from their partners reading poorly written kink and then doing it. Kink. Is. Not. A. Game.
If you aren’t black, why are you writing a black MC? Seriously, you really think you’re better at writing their experience than they are? Please. EDIT: First Person POV is what I’m talking about not writing. I think it’s fine, based on what I’ve seen black people say, to write a third-person POV black person or Asian person (or other POC)… because in third person, you’re writing about/including them, not REPRESENTING them.
If you aren’t mixed race, or Asian, or… why? Why are you writing it?
If you aren’t asexual, you’re gonna fuck it up, because not even all of us aces agree on what good rep is. EDIT: So you fuck it up? Big deal. People have been fucking it up all through history. I’m not saying don’t write it. You do you. Personally, I won’t write something I’m not. All my work is own-voices. Only thing that isn’t is having a penis, cause I’m wasn’t born with one, damnit. I get lots of authenticity readers for those parts.
At the end of the day, you, as a writer, need to ask yourself WHY you’re writing what you’re writing with regards to marginalizations. You need to ask yourself if it’s your story to tell, because some of them, no matter how shiny an idea or fluffy a plot-bunny, will not be your story to tell.
You need to ask yourself what kind of harm you’re doing (cause if you aren’t OF the marginalization, but you’ve chosen to write it anyway? YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING ENORMOUS HARM. Not Fucking Sorry).
If you’re a cis het non-queer of other variety person writing m/m fiction for money? I don’t have a lot of respect for you, but go for it. There’s a market full of cis het women dying to fetishize gay men. Have fun, just don’t pretend you’re doing anything but writing it for the money and the fetishization of real people. And don’t demand I read it. Don’t EVER demand I read anything like that.
If you’re writing it because you just happen to love gay romance? Get gay/bi male beta readers at the very least and DO YOUR RESEARCH.
If you’re white and you’re writing a first-person black POV MC? Also don’t have a hell of a lot of respect for you, because we all can see why you’re doing it. You think it’s the in thing and it’s gonna get you cookies. (It’s not, really, it might get you published, because you have a leg up in this industry over black and mixed-race peeps right from the get-go.)
*I* won’t even write some of my marginalizations. I have a black/native grandfather, and a native grandmother, that does not mean I have the right to write what it feels like to be Black or Native. It just does not, cause hello… I turn into Casper in the winter. I wasn’t allowed to learn about my grandparents’ cultures because the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996 when I was in university. They taught me to pass instead.
(I’m mixed, I tan so well that I don’t pass if I’ve gotten any summer sun, but I’m not Black or Native. I’m DESCENDED FROM Black and Native peoples. There’s a huge difference there. EDIT: My great grandfather was Portuguese and Spanish, I’m technically latinx, EDIT: Apparently that doesn’t make me latinix, it makes me Hispanic. I’ve been educated (thank you so much) about that. Still, I won’t write it. I’ll absolutely include Hispanic characters and side characters, because the world is diverse and we need to show that. But I won’t rep what that experience feels like. I’m white-coded and I have passing-privilege.) I do write a lot of mixed-race characters because I can authentically rep that. I usually pick my own mixtures.
I read mostly own-voices work these days, because hands down, the work is so much better than non-own-voices. It just IS.
It all comes down to some questions and statements.
Who are you writing for?
Is it your story to tell? Some stories ARE NOT YOURS TO TELL Not sorry.
What kind of harm can it do?
WHY are you writing it?
and the statements:
Make your worlds realistic with all kinds of people, YES ABSOLUTELY.
PLEASE include us, but don’t USE us.
Lolz, and don’t tell us we have to read your books. I don’t owe a read to anyone, especially if they’re writing ABOUT me instead of FOR me.
EDIT: I have been attacked by non-autistic people that I thought were pretty cool and accepting types because of this post. I do not understand how they can think I’m saying ‘don’t write that’ ‘ace and trans aren’t queer’ from anything in this post. I have since edited it, all edits are noted with EDIT, italicized and colored a different shade, take all the receipts you want. I haven’t deleted anything, nor will I. It would be dishonorable.
Y’all. You could do a LITTLE bit of work when it comes to communicating with autistics. We work all the gods damned time to communicate with you. Every second of our lives around you is spent trying to understand you so we can communicate in a way you’d understand. Why the hell can’t y’all do the same? You’re not going to be the majority much longer. Recent statistic put autistic kids at around 1/62, so before long? We’re probably going to be the majority. You will eventually have to learn to communicate with us or find yourselves in the same position autistics are in now. Except autistics would probably try harder to understand y’all.
There is NO implied meaning to any of that. None. That’s on the reader if they think there’s something more behind it. Not on me for saying what I actually mean. Words have meaning. We have books full of the meanings of words, they’re called dictionaries.
If you’re talking with an autistic? Use a dictionary, because THAT meaning of the word is the one we’re probably using. NOT whatever you THINK the meaning of that word is.
Gotten in trouble for THAT too.
So. Research, we all know we need to do it, right?
I mean… we DO know we need to do some, when we’re writing, right?
Nope. We all really don’t seem to know this.
I read a book this past weekend that was a historical and it was very, very obvious that a lot (or maybe any) research hadn’t been conducted.
The story premise was good, but it lacked the depth that research could have given it.
I honestly can’t think of any genre of writing that you can get away with NOT doing research for. Picture books, maybe? But I did a ton of research for my Ace Shark picture book, so maybe not even that?
Some genres are heavier on research than others, I do the MOST research for Historical and Science Fantasy, but even for my paranormal titles, I still do a ton of research.
For my Ilavani series, I did so much research into genetic modification, quantum physics and historical power structures including the history and structures of indentured service that I could probably write at least a master’s level thesis on any of those subjects.
For my upcoming Bloodbound from NineStar Press I did massive amounts of research into the Mabinogian, Welsh Folklore, and supernatural critters.
Now. How do I do research?
It varies? That’s as helpful as mud, isn’t it?
So. I have a couple degrees in research related stuff. So I know how to do high-brow research.
But honestly? I start with Wikipedia.
Not so much for the articles, though some of them are surprisingly good, but for the links leading out from the articles.
Even if you JUST read the Wikipedia articles about the subjects you’re writing about, it’s probably enough for a lot of mainstream fiction.
But you can also find pages like this one (here on my site) where I add interesting links that I’ve found while I’m doing research for my books.
You can follow the links from Wikipedia to find further information. You can google search a specific topic (most of the links on my resources page were found doing one of those two things).
If it’s a topic? There is someone who geeks out about it. Find the geeks talking about it and listen to them. Many of them are very interested in consulting (waves at the lovely people helping me with long-range sniper rifles right now) in order to get the info RIGHT in books.
Cause getting it right kind of matters. Very little will throw me out of a story faster than a fact that I know to be untrue.
Because then I have to go look it up to remind myself that it is, in fact, untrue.
If I find it’s not factual, I will very likely never pick the book up again. Not everyone is as fussy as I am about things being authentic, but I very much am.
Why should I waste my valuable time in reading your words if you didn’t waste YOUR time looking up the information to get it freaking right?
I also use TV Tropes a lot (I spent probably weeks on this site while I was developing the world for the Ace Assassin World. (Bloodbound April 30th, 2018, and OMG that’s getting close!)
Just type in what you want to know about in the search bar and browse to your heart’s content. You’ll likely be surprised at all the questions you didn’t know you didn’t know to ask that you suddenly have when you do that.
Fair warning, it’s a HUGE rabbit hole. You could get lost. Take some carrots as a snack.
Where can you find the geeks? Internet. Most of us have blogs where we obsess about our interests. For those of us who don’t have blogs, we go to group meetings about the topic that we love.
IE: Beekeeping, look for a local beekeepers/apiarists association. They are in most towns, but it’s one of those things you probably have to go looking for to find.
Same with Blacksmithing, or genealogy, or spinning, or weaving, or, or, or, or…
Twitter is a fantastic resource cause many of us geeks do threads about topics we’d like people to get right.
If it’s a historical topic, you could look for historical reenactment groups. They exist for most areas of history, and trust me, you’ll find history geeks there.
Libraries are a fantastic resource if you can get to one. Librarians will often help you find books about any subject you need because that’s what they both love and get paid to do.
So. There is my two cents on research.
What a fantastic list!
Content Warning: Sex, Sexual Abuse, Kink
I’m kinky, but y’all knew that if you’ve been following me for any time at all.
And no, before you even think it, I’m not kinky because of my abuse. Kink has healed me from the effects of abuse, not the opposite.
Kink let me reclaim my sexuality in a way I’m not sure I ever would have been able to without it.
We’re in a time of social upheaval, when so many people are talking about what sexual abuse really is and how it contrasts to rape. I feel something needs to be added to this conversation.
We’re talking about how men (actually, anyone who wants to date, because f/f relationships and any relationship with an enby needs to pay attention to this conversation too) now have an opportunity to choose to be a different kind of person (if they aren’t already) than they were socialized to be.
We need to talk about kink and how it affects this conversation.
The only thing that made me blink a bit in that article was a reference that made it seem bad if you are the kind of man who wants to dominate a woman.
Now, I don’t get the feeling Ms. Oluo was trying to say that kink is bad, she’s talking about something entirely different, but it did leave me a slight squirmy feeling in my gut.
What about it? What if you ARE the kind of man (or woman or non-binary person) who wants to dominate someone else in the kinky sexual sense?
What if you are the kind of person regardless of gender who wants to be dominated? Or, lolz, to put it bluntly, what if it really gets you hot to submit to someone?
There isn’t anything wrong with that.
It’s okay. Really.
It is absolutely okay, if (and only if) you have the proper agreements with your partner if you submit to them, or if you dominate them.
That’s the beauty of kink, and of consent because I have very rarely met a committed kinkster who isn’t extremely respectful of consent. We usually tend to be very good at communication too, we have to be.
There is an aspect to this ongoing conversation that a lot of people may not be aware of.
I think it may be part of why many women are pushing back against the concept of what sexual assault is and isn’t. A smaller part, for sure, but it’s telling.
Women and femme presenting peeps aren’t, in any generation of any recent time, encouraged to embrace their needs.
Some people need to submit. Some people need to dominate. These are needs and largely unmet if they aren’t filled by being in a kinky relationship, or maybe the person who needs these things doesn’t even know that kink exists.
The one thing I’ll always be thankful to 50 shades for is that it brought kink out of the shadows. It’s a terribly written, abusive, harmful example of kink, but it did bring the idea of kink into the public conscious.
Hell, in my generation, (I’m currently 41, it’s 2018) we weren’t socialized to accept that we HAD sexual needs at all.
We were socialized to ‘please a man’, regardless of our own desires. We were socialized to so many things that many of us wouldn’t have chosen to do if we’d even known we had a choice.
So many of us didn’t just didn’t know, because we weren’t taught. The fault there lies with society, for certain, with patriarchy, often times with religion as well.
So it makes sense to me that a lot of women may not understand that they actually want to submit. That it’s a legitimate need and that there are safe, consensual ways that those needs can be met.
The reverse is true, as well.
These are just my rambly thoughts on the subject really, I’ve done no research to back up what is a gut instinct for me. Obviously this is a very wide-reaching, deep social problem that covers all shades of gray, and this is just one aspect of it.
In every conversation like this one, there are the polar opposites of GOOD and BAD, RIGHT and WRONG, but in between those opposites are all the shades of gray.
We need to talk about those too, or we’re not talking about the whole subject.
We need to be aware of why people are pushing back against social change, or we’ll slide right back down the slippery slope we’re all trying so desperately to claw our way up.
Everyone needs to own their needs and their responsibility to themselves and, extending that, society.
Everyone needs to get to the point where they are willing to clearly communicate what their needs are, and what they are absolutely NOT willing or able to do.
We ALL need to get to the point where NO is as acceptable (without consequences) as YES PLEASE will be.
We need to get to where we ask for verbal consent, where we make it sexy as fuck to ask (cause it really, really is) and where it’s AS sexy for people to say, ‘hey, can I try dominating you/submitting to you sometime?’
It’s going to take work. Work in ourselves to find out what we each of us needs. It’s going to take work to OWN those needs, to take responsibility for them, our selves, our bodies, and learn how to communicate about all of those things.
It’s going to take a lot of work for people to shrug off the generations of patriarchal socialization that is causing so many problems.
And I think, the very first step of that, is to be talking about it all.
We’ve made a start. I dearly hope for the sake of my children at least, that we can keep the conversation going.
Pub date January 8, 2018
Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.
Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.
Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.
Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.
I received an ARC of this book via the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
I loved it so much.
I fell absolutely in love with the main character, Ryder. My gods, did I ever fall fast for him. Almost everything was perfect about this novella, characterization, pacing, the plot driving the sex… so much is so perfect and I’ll definitely be looking for more work by this author.
Content warning for blood exchange, cutting, and animal death. SPOILER: The last is okay, promise, he comes back.)
Things I loved:
The author didn’t screw up my faith: I’m a witch, both by bloodline/tradition and by choice of faith, and I can’t tell you the number of books and stories I’ve read/seen that get it wrong, harmfully wrong, sometimes. (Stop and think about it, how many books and shows use a pentacle for a fast an easy way of saying something is evil? When it’s actually the exact opposite?) This book deals heavily in the occult, paganism, magic and the author got it RIGHT! I grinned several times seeing my faith depicted well in the pages of this book.
On page consent: This is a HUGE plus for me, and I often mark a book lower in the stars department if it’s not there. If your characters are having sex, you have to write consent or indicate a conversation has happened that shows consent has been clearly, ideally verbally if physically possible, given. (NO EXCEPTIONS other than dubcon in a first-person PoV when you’re IN the character’s head and you, as the reader, KNOW they want it. Writing consent on the page and demanding it be there in our love stories is how we break down rape culture, you have to have it on the page.) Consent is sexy. It’s there in this book. I loved that.
The writing: By now, if you follow my reviews, you know that I’m extremely picky about writing. I have no issue what-so-ever with DNFing (Do Not Finish) a book. There are millions of books out there, my time is precious and I don’t read what I don’t at least like. Being an editor in my day-job means I’m INCREDIBLY picky about writing skill.
The use of language is rich, but not over the top. The description is AMAZING, I could smell the coffee and feel the mist on my skin, feel the cat’s fur and really get into the sex scenes. (Lolz, they did their job, put it like that.)
Ray has an excellent ability to write evocatively, and that is one of my favorite things in reading. If an author can transport me into their world for a few hours? I’m there. As I’ve come to expect from NineStar Press titles, the editing is top notch. I think I caught one homonym error in 33k plus words. That’s it.
On page representation of a non-binary character who uses they/them pronouns. It’s a secondary character, and there’re only a few lines, but the way the gender-neutral language is presented as a matter of course and automatically accepted is amazing. I loved it.
Trans masc main character: The character’s gender, even with graphic sex, is handled so smoothly and beautifully that YES, YES, YES. I rarely see trans romance written this well. I’m so grateful there’s more and more of it that I can get into my greedy little paws. Mirror books (the books I can see myself in) are so hard to find, and so very precious. I also really enjoyed it that the story wasn’t even remotely ABOUT him being trans. He’s trans, it’s fact, the story is about something else (and wow, what an amazing ride it was)!
On page rep of a bi/pansexual guy: I read the love-interest character, Liam as being bi, which makes him a bi guy with on page rep, another thing that I loved a lot. I can’t pinpoint a line that made me think he is bi, and it’s possible he’s gay instead, but either way, he’s wonderful. (I have a huge crush on Liam, too.)
It’s dark: The younger the characters, the darker the book has to be to rope me in. This book would technically fall under New Adult (the main characters are in their early 20s) and it’s extremely dark and delicious. I adored it.
It’s deliciously sexy: Yes, I’m ace (asexual) but I’m also autochorisexual, so I LOVE to read/write about sex. There’s a lot of hot, plot-driven, slightly kinky sex in Darkling. More please!
Things I had a problem with (and why this is a four-point-five-star review instead of a five-star, the writing and story are definitely five-star quality, even in my VERY persnickety opinion.
No safe sex discussion: I’m a former sexuality educator, I’m kinky, pansexual, polyamorous, and I write both erotic romance and erotica.
I had to dock a fantastic story with excellent writing half a review star because there was NO discussion of safe sex anywhere. Nothing about contraception (Ryder uses what I believe are testosterone shots, but it’s not discussed with Liam as anything other than a painful shot, and trans men can still become pregnant on testosterone therapy.)
There is nothing about STD protection, they don’t use condoms, or dams, or finger cots, so yeah. It lost half a star on this point alone, because that stuff is IMPORTANT.
When we write sex, we need to keep things like this in mind. The first place a LOT of people first encounter sex, (safe sex, consensual sex, kinky sex, ANY sex) is in written form. We as authors have a responsibility to be aware of that. We ALL need to be writing safe sex into stories that need it. The lack of discussion completely threw me out of enjoying the story.
Which stories need it? All of them. Unless there is an on-page reason for it not to be needed (IE: Some SFF stories have species that are immune to STDs/are sterile) if that’s stated somewhere, fine, safe sex talk not needed.
Historical and fairy-tale retelling fantasy type stories have a LITTLE wiggle room on this, but it should still be there because our ancestors knew about STDs, avoided them as much as we do, and condoms and sheaths were invented well before the 18th century, we have some records saying they went back to Egyptian times. So I’d still like to see it in historical.
In a contemporary book of ANY kind, there needs to be a safe sex discussion ON PAGE, or there needs to be mention that a safe sex discussion HAS OCCURRED between the lovers. In speculative fiction like paranormal? You could probably even come up with a reason it wouldn’t be needed, but then the reason needs to be stated.
Now. In Darkling, the two main characters have been friends for two years, so maybe they knew one another’s status, but *I* don’t discuss that with my friends as a matter of course, it just doesn’t come up, and the way the relationship is presented (friends to lovers) makes me disbelieve that they would’ve known. GETTING TESTED IS SEXY, have your characters talk about it.
I still really loved the book and I do HIGHLY recommend it. 🙂
Readability: 5/5 I’ve been ill, so haven’t been as easily beguiled by reading as I usually would have been with a book of this caliber. I fell in love with Ryder by the end of chapter one, and usually, I would’ve ripped through this book in a sitting. Instead, I lapped it up slowly, like good chocolate. It’s excellent.
ARCS: 5/5 Story arc, plot arc, relationship arc, they’re all believable, well written and wonderful, my only complaint is that I wish the story had been longer! I hope the author has more to come.
Craft: 4/5 Fantastic, evocative writing. Excellent editing, on par with other NineStar Press titles. Pacing was perfect, the plot drove the sex (something that not all erotic romance can boast of) and the only issue I had was lack of on-page STD/contraception discussion (with no spec fic/SFF reason to preclude its necessity).
Do give this book a read, it’s well worth the purchase price. A coffee costs more.
Buy from the publisher if you’re buying an e-copy, the author and publisher get more money that way, meaning they can keep bringing you more amazing books.
Fantastic post (part one) about engagement. I admit, I’m a completely new person to Insta, because I don’t know what people want from me there! Lolz, I’m better on twitter. Always still learning.