Hey, everyone! A quick post to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving if you’re in the U.S. and a Happy Chanukkah if you celebrate the Jewish holidays. I hope everyone is having a great holiday today filled with great food, good company, and high hopes for the coming winter.
What I’m thankful for this season:
1. Loving Parents & Chosen Family
I’m so very thankful to be surrounded by my closest friends this Thanksgiving. Sure, they’re my room-mates, but I’m so happy to be around them. They accept me as I am and treat me like I’m one of the family, which is just awesome when I’m so far from home. (Not to mention the food, which is just incredible, thanks to Saundra’s cooking skills. ^_-) I’m also grateful to my family out on the west coast. I miss them terribly, and I know that this holiday season is difficult on my parents as they separate. Despite all that’s going on, I still have their love, and that makes the ache from the situation lessen a bit along with the homesickness. I was lucky enough to visit them last week to help pack a bit and to celebrate my father’s 65th birthday, and I just love them so much!
2. Healthy Kittles
If any of you have been following Saundra on Facebook lately, you already know that our youngest kittle (read: young cat) became ill lately. Like… really ill. He’d been throwing up daily for a period of time, and then stopped eating and drinking and dropped a lot of weight. When we took him into the vet, they found a firm, irregularly shaped mass in his intestines, and we were told it was most likely an abscess of some sort or a tumor (either benign or malevolent). He’s been on a very strict anti-biotic schedule since then, and just a few days later, he’s already so much better. We’re so relieved when we see him not only alert, but playing with his toys, eating up a storm, and regaining his health. It was really scary to think of losing him when he’s still so young (only about 20 months at this point). I’m also just glad that the rest of the pets in our household are healthy.
3. My co-workers at Storm Moon Press
This business wouldn’t be going nearly as smoothly (if at all) without the help of some awesome people, and I’m so very grateful for the hours of hard work they put into making this business a success. Thank you to Dionne, Amanda, Kat, and Cat for all of your time and efforts. Working with you guys is really awesome, and you’re amazing people I’m honored to know.
4. My own health and wellness
Despite losing my day job because the spa I worked at went out of business after 20 years, I’m so very thankful for my good health. I have a wonderful immune system that has helped me dodge a lot of proverbial bullets, and I’m able-bodied and looking to dance my way to a more active lifestyle. I have a really positive mindset, and while I struggle sometimes with the alignment of my body with my gender identity, I still have nothing to truly complain about when all is said and done.
5. My creativity
I don’t know where I’d be without it. I love being artistic and taking a creative approach to work and play and life in general. I’m going to need it when it comes to finding a good job situation soon, but I welcome the challenge, and I know that I have support in that respect. I love the writing that I do, love KS Charms and all the jewelry I make there, and I love crafting things that bring happiness to those around me, be it stories, trinkets, or dancing. I’m grateful to have a strong creative streak and plenty of avenues I can take to express myself.
Lastly, I want to say that I’m grateful to those of you who follow my blog. I know I don’t update as often as I should, and I know some of you must be huffing at me for not putting out any of my own work lately. I’m grateful for each and every one of you, especially through these times when my writing goes on the back burner a bit. It’s a dry spell, I know, and I appreciate you guys seeing me through it!
Stay safe this holiday season, and have a great time tonight and tomorrow, be it in a food coma or courageously battling the madness that is Black Friday Sales. Happy Thanksgiving!
That’s right. Single White Genderqueer seeks Unicorn.
I have a feeling that’s what my personal advert would be if I had one. ‘Cause it’s not exactly an easy thing to talk gender/sexual identity when you first meet someone, but it’s the reality when you present differently than you ultimately identify.
For those not already in the know, I identify genderqueer. I’m somewhere in between the gender identities of male and female. I present female (though I wish I presented a bit more neutral or even more on the boyish end), and I’m okay with female pronouns being used for me. However, I get a little spike of giddy joy whenever someone refers to me as a boy, from my room-mate jokingly calling me garçon while I top off his glass of milk to friends on the Internet calling me boy occasionally in casual conversation. So! I have a strong inner boy but present much more feminine than a true gender-neutral would.
Add to that my strong attraction to men (and only slight attraction to women), and then you open up a whole other can of worms with trying to identify my sexuality. If I’m somewhere in the middle, does that make me gay or straight? Personally, I do think that I am closer to a gay man than a straight woman, but because I do still have a slight attraction to women, I’m technically some flavor of bisexual. In the long-term, I’d love to be with someone else who identifies male as well (and I’ll freely admit my attraction to the male sex, so while I’m open to non-cis-gendered men, I’ll be honest and say I do like the male anatomy).
I won’t go into a description of my dream lover or anything like that, but in general, I sometimes feel like being genderqueer really does complicate finding someone I’m compatible with. I wonder sometimes if there are other GQ people who feel the same way. When you’re in between two popularly accepted identifications for gender (aka male and female), it’s tough to find people who will understand that the mind is a complex place and that what’s between your legs isn’t the defining factor of who you are. I have girl bits, and I primarily like men. When I walk down the street or pass people in the grocery store, they can tell with one look that I am biologically female. Therefore, most people would say I’m straight if they had to hazard a guess.
But in my head and my heart, it isn’t that simple. If I identify more on the inside as a gay man with some effeminate leanings, then that does change the atmosphere when it comes to finding someone to get close to in a more intimate way. I don’t want to simply be seen as female, but I know most men won’t view me as male because I look female. It leads me to strange places… like being attracted primarily to men who identify as gay.
Yep. You guessed it. I’m the one who might be seen at a gay bar gently rebuffing advances from lesbians while staring longingly at the gay men instead. ‘Fag hag’ is a label that’s been thrown my way before, but that label assumes I’m female and therefore completely undesireable, and that’s just a downright depressing thought to me.
When you identify more male and are attracted to men, wanting to be closer to gay men is kind of normal, right? But it ends up being awkward because several gay men I’ve been around would balk at being with someone who doesn’t have a cock between their legs. I get it; they want to be with cis-gendered gay men. That’s definitely what most gay relationships look like, so I completely understand.
But, at the same time, it’s hurtful to be met with that “Vagina? Ew! No way!” response, as if the only thing that matters in a relationship is where the cock does or doesn’t end up going while having sex. It puts me in a position where I want to hate my vagina, where I start hating my own body, and that sucks. Even if I wish I had something different between my legs, hating what is there can’t be healthy. Any kind of self-hate is negative. I just feel like the societal atmosphere really does push me toward that, though, and it’s frustrating to no end.
It’s ultimately led me to a headspace where I think the most likely place to find someone compatible is in that mystical demographic of bisexual men. On both extremes of the spectrum (gay and straight), there are a lot of people who still believe bisexuality doesn’t even exist. There are plenty of videos exploring this phenomenon, too. Laci Green from Sex+ talked about it, and there are other videos examining the erasure of and prejudice toward bisexuality.
I firmly believe it does exist, not only because I identify thus, but because it makes logical sense for things to never be as simple to categorize as just gay or straight. Bisexual men exist, even if there is a stigma to identifying that way (especially for men, it seems).
But where better to look for someone who would love me both for my feminine side and my masculine side? Where better to find someone who could embrace the fact I have a vagina while also understanding that I want to be treated like I have a cock? Even in the demographic of bisexual men, it might be proverbial ‘hard sell’, since I know a lot of people want to judge based on that first look, that first interaction. They see me, and the light bulb goes off above their heads, telling them I look female. And once that label is applied, it’s hard to shake. It’s difficult to accept that correction of, “Actually, I’m genderqueer and skew more male, so don’t let the outside fool you.” It’s an in-between that doesn’t come with a rule-book, and without that ingrained structure of behavioral normality to draw from, it’s uncharted territory for most people.
It’s scary. I know that. Getting involved with someone outside what you understand is probably frightening as hell. Doesn’t mean the relationship won’t work or that it’s not worth the effort of trying, but it can definitely be scary, and that’s something that a couple hopefully communicates about and faces together rather than automatically hightailing it out of there.
In the end, this post is just to admit I’m genderqueer, to talk a little about how it sometimes makes relationships awkward and in need of extra TLC, communication, and effort, and also how I can totally relate to others who feel like they’re searching for a freaking unicorn because it feels like finding people who understand how you identify is difficult enough, let alone finding one of those people who is actually interested in you and in whom you, too, are interested. To any readers of this blog entry who have felt the same pangs of wishing you could find someone who understands, loves, and accepts you on a deep level? Yeah. I feel you. ^_^
Okay. After all that, you readers deserve a reward. For fun, enjoy the following name generator that sparked the idea for this post in the first place. The Unicorn Name Generator! My results for a name-specific unicorn is below. And yes, I chose to make my unicorn name male. Because I can!
Elm is good-humoured and always in high spirits.
He is as golden as a sunrise,
and he loves to dance on moonbeams.
Get your own unicorn name from the unicorn name generator!
It’s been a while again, and I wanted to give an update. While no new writing has been occurring for me (so sad!), I’ve been super busy trying to get a lot of other things underway. Number one on that list is, of course, RainbowCon 2014! You’ve probably already heard about this, so I won’t chat your ear off about it, but RainbowCon is a conference I’m putting together with my fellow SMP founders to get a bunch of QUILTBAG authors, artists, and publishers together to celebrate diversity and chat about a range of topics in our genre.
If you’re curious, please feel free to check out the website, which I linked above, or–in the event you know you can’t attend next April down here in Tampa, Florida–take a look at the IndieGoGo campaign that we have going. You can still donate to support the conference, and we have some nice perks for the lower levels that don’t necessitate attendance. ^_- Any support is totally welcome, and we appreciate any contributions. It’s going to be an amazing conference, and we want to ensure that it happens year after year! Celebrate artistic diversity with us!
In personal news, the spa that I currently work for might be closing down in the next week, but there may be a buyer in the form of the personal trainer who runs the gym space right next door. If he ends up purchasing our space, he’ll be converting it to more of a health spa rather than a day spa, which means massage is in the forefront. It might mean expanding my clientele to include more athletes, which I wouldn’t mind at all, but I want to ensure that those who come to me simply for massage don’t feel pressured to join the gym. Appearance and weight are not adequate indicators of health, and I don’t want my massage space to become a place my clients feel judged. So… there may be dialogue between me and the trainer next door, since I would be helping him convert the space and run the massage business alongside his gym. There’s potential, so we’ll see where that goes. If nothing happens and the spa does end up folding completely, it means back to corporate massage work for me, which would be a downer. Here’s hoping he’s open to my suggestions and sees the potential that I do!
In the specifically Storm Moon Press realm of work, I’ve been very busy catching up on review requests (with all our single releases, I’d fallen a bit behind XD) and putting together the print versions for some of our recent releases, including anthologies like Dark Menagerie and Forgotten Menagerie along with M.A. Church’s new novel, The Harvest: Taken, which is already a bestseller on Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and Bookstrand. Hell yeah, M.A.!
And since I can’t shut up about the books I’m working on (though not writing for ^_-), here are the basic blurbs for each along with their amazing cover art. I’ll likely have more content soon on the blog, but you get the pretties for now. Enjoy and remember to click to enlarge the cover art!
A shifter leads two lives: one as a human, and one as an animal. Sometimes these lives are intertwined, and sometimes they are not, but always the shifter has to find a way to reconcile one with the other. Dark Menagerie follows characters as they explore the darker side of what it means to have one foot in the animal world and one foot in the human world. Some struggle to keep the animal starkly separate from their lives as a human being, but for others, their shifting leads them to a darker corner of the mind where human and animal are nearly indistinguishable.
Authors: Arielle Pierce, Caitlin Ricci, Katya Harris, & Lor Rose
A shifter leads two lives: one as a human, and one as an animal. Sometimes these lives are intertwined, and sometimes they are not, but always the shifter has to find a way to reconcile one with the other. Forgotten Menagerie reminds us that not all shifters are werewolves or werecats, despite the preponderance of them in fiction. The stories in this anthology focus on shifters with animal forms other than canine and feline, building their own mythos for these non-traditional species.
Authors: Alex Whitehall, Angelia Sparrow, Avery Vanderlyle, Cari Z, & Kate Lowell
In the year 2050, humanity finds out they are indeed not alone.
Massive space ships appear without warning above the capital cities of all major nations. The planet Tah’Nar is dying. Chemical warfare has reduced the once-intersexed warrior race to sterility. They need fresh DNA in order to reproduce and have an idea for a harvesting program… and so they turn to Earth.
Earth governments negotiate a lottery, and Dale Michael assumes he’s safe since he’s under the Harvest age limit. How wrong he is. He’s illegally harvested and claimed by Tah’Narian starship captain Keyno Shou. From the moment Keyno sees Dale, he knows he must claim the spirited human male for his own. What he doesn’t expect is a spitfire with a mind of his own—and a deadly disease that will require a risky procedure to cure.
This is a quicky post mostly intended to wish everyone a happy Autumn Equinox! Now, having a primarily Christian background, we totally never did anything special this time of year. Since I’ve been living with those who strongly lean toward Pagan practices, I’ve been exposed to a lot of celebrations more closely tied to the earth and the seasons. This is a win by my count.
We’ll be having a Mabon celebration tonight. Saundra and her husband, Roger, have invited their friends. It’s all about the harvest and sharing the bounty of the earth with family and friends. Saundra has been hard at work in the kitchen, and we have really wonderful stew prepared as well as angel food cakes and pomegranate sorbet. (The leftover egg yolks were put into some amazing vanilla and chocolate puddings as well, even though those aren’t really for the party. Yum!) I’m looking forward to having company, and I hope you guys out there in the blogosphere are able to take some time to be with your families (blood or chosen) and friends!
As a quick update, my writing has totally been put on hold for the time being, but it won’t stay that way for too long at all. ^_^ Saundra and I have no shortage of projects to work on; I just have to take a bit of time to put some print versions together for SMP anthologies. I’m a tiny bit behind, but it’s nothing that a couple days of dedicated work won’t fix. I also have a review list that needs to be reorganized, and while that isn’t top priority, it’ll make my life SO much easier that it’s worth the tedium. XD
I also was lucky enough to pause a bit to read Cody L. Stanford’s Sinews of the Heart, which is currently up for pre-sale. For my thoughts on that book, which I highly recommend, see yesterday’s blog post. ^_^ I’m looking forward to my next editing project which will involve Cornelia Grey (one of my all-time favorite authors in the gay erotic romance genre). Can’t even begin to say how excited I am about her upcoming sequel to Bounty Hunter.
That’s all I have to share! What’s going on with everyone else? Do you have any fun weekend plans? Do you celebrate Equinox? If you don’t, do you have any upcoming plans for your holiday of choice the next couple months? Share a bit in the comments, if you like! Happy Equinox, everyone!
Every once in a blue moon, you come across a book that catapults you into an endless cycle of giddy squee-tastic GLEE. My friends, I’ve had such an experience, and I want to share a little about it. Is this an endorsement for an upcoming Storm Moon Press book? Yes. Yes, it is. But don’t just groan and roll your eyes at me for going all Marketing Director with the whole promotion gig. This isn’t really me speaking on behalf of the press. I’m typing all this out because I as a reader–and as an individual who identifies genderqueer–can’t stay silent about a book this damn good.
Curious? I hope you are! I also hope you’ll like what you read below and get excited for this book. I can’t wait for readers, both young and old, to get their hands on it.
I’ve been fortunate enough to read through Sinews of the Heart by Cody Stanford. I say fortunate because this book… hits the nail on the head in so many ways. It’s Young Adult QUILTBAG fiction at its very finest. Not only is the book well-written, but it touches on so many things that our genre simply needs more of and our WORLD needs more of. Here are a couple points I love:
A Young Adult novel that Breaks Rules
This book, quite frankly, breaks the rules. These days, people expect YA QUILTBAG fiction to basically be YA Gay fiction. Let’s face it, the rise in popularity of gay fiction in general has led to quite a number of authors in the gay romance fiction genre ‘giving a go’ at writing YA gay fiction. Is that a bad thing? Oh, hell no, it’s not! I love seeing an influx of Gay YA just as much as the next reader who wants to spread the love for GLBT to young people. But it does mean that the majority of YA books coming out deal primarily with gay characters. This book doesn’t end at that. Sinews of the Heart breaks past that barrier into not only addressing the common ‘coming out’ story arc for a character identifying non-heterosexually, but also addressing gender identity in a very raw and organic way. The main character, Nikki, is biologically male but lives as a female. Her parents fight about it, have pronoun arguments, the works. On top of that, a romance develops between Nikki and a boy, Kane, who then has to come to terms not only with his own sexual identity, but with Nikki’s gender identity, expression, and sexuality as well. Add another boy into the mix–Rory, who is secure in his identity as a gay young man–and you have just struck YA QUILTBAG Fiction gold!
Nah. To hell with gold; this is YA QUILTBAG Fiction diamond-studded rhodium. It has the potential to open eyes and minds through skillful narration, balanced storytelling, and some really amazing characters. All this from a novel starring a trans* anthrotiger in a post-apocalyptic setting! YES, please!
Post-Apocalyptic World from a Young Perspective
There are plenty of cases where YA fiction puts the young protagonists in a post-apocalyptic or a paranormal setting to see where the dominoes fall when they interact with whatever out there makes the world different from our present-day norm. You see a gazillion YA Romances where female protagonists are out there with vampires, were-whatevers, pixies, you name it. It’s been done to death by now. Post-apocalyptic YA fiction is a little less common, but it puts the reader in a unique perspective, following the decline of a world and the birth of a new reality for those still left after whatever cataclysmic event has left the earth reeling.
In Sinews of the Heart, the narration is not only from the perspective of a young person, but one who is on what most humans in the story would call the enemy side (more on that in a minute). The unique perspective really works to the story’s advantage. You’re seeing the world through Nikki’s eyes, someone who was born and raised after the Liberation war that broke out after an anthro virus changed a large percentage of the population into various predators. The world as we know it nowadays is a figment of the past only remembered by the old lucky enough to have survived on either side of the conflict… and only experienced by the young who rustle through trash or manage to find pictures and show-tunes saved on an iPhone.
This book pays homage to our current technology, but quietly asserts that technology isn’t enough to save our race from the more dangerous parts of our nature, from aggression, the fear of our differences, and the ability to hold grudges and delight in the pain of others. It’s not just something that comes forth with the more animalistic minds of the anthros, but something that clings to the humans and those who remember being human as well. Thought-provoking doesn’t even begin to cover it, guys.
Anthro Fiction That’s Actually Relatable
Like I mentioned, the narrator, Nikki, is an anthro. More specifically, Nikki is an anthrotiger, the offspring of two once-humans who contracted the Siberian Tiger strain of the virus that changed the population into predators. It gives her a different perspective, growing up where the ruins of the human civilization have to be explained to her by her parents. As an anthrotiger, she questions the ‘apes’ (read: humans) and their habits like any inquisitive kid. Despite what lies between her legs, she doesn’t want anything to do with the macho aggressive competitive boy crap that her father and other male characters in the story expect of her.
I’m one of those readers who would be tilting my head and giving one of those ‘You gotta be kidding me’ expressions at the thought of reading anthro fiction, but please please please don’t discount this book because there are furry people in it. You’d really be missing out. The anthro perspective allows us readers to look at humanity from the outside, to question the things that we’ve begun to see as everyday attitudes and occurrences. It’s the perfect way to be put in the position of someone who simply hasn’t been raised with the same values. It throws societal constructs into question: gender roles and double standards, war and conflict, prejudice based on any number of differences. All of these elements are touched upon in this book, which I find truly fantastic and can’t give the author, Cody Stanford, enough credit for. These are issues that every reader can relate to, and the presence of anthro characters only adds to the experience rather than detracting from it.
In the end, I could ramble on and on about the different things that resonated with me in this story. I loved the journey that Nikki takes to come to terms with her identity and personal expression. It’s something that I myself still struggle with at the ripe old age of 27. I’m still young, but I can only aspire to having the courage that Nikki shows in the face of adversity in this book. It’s really a story that I hope captures others’ hearts as it has captured mine. This book, you guys… You’ve just gotta read it!
Nikki was never meant to exist.
It started with the genchangers, human-made genetic viruses designed to meld animal features into humans for fun, fashion, or fetish. The viruses mutated, became airborne, began changing people at random. Then came the fear, and the war. The normal humans were quickly outnumbered and outclassed, hunted to the brink of extinction, and huddled in small, fortified settlements. Their only hope for survival was that the mutants would eventually die out. But the viruses mutated again, and many of those infected found themselves able to breed. Fur-borns like anthrotiger Nikki were the first of a new generation of life on Earth, homo superior. The world belonged to the anthros.
All of Nikki’s life, she was taught to hate and revile humans. But that was before she met the Buckmans, a human family trying to make it to a safe zone, nothing at all like the bloodthirsty monsters her father told her of. And in particular, the Buckman’s young son Kane, who stirs feelings in Nikki she doesn’t understand. Kane, though, wants nothing to do with her, and Nikki doesn’t know if it’s because she’s an anthrotiger, or because her father insists on calling her by her birth name—Nicholas.