Hey, everyone! I know it’s been a couple months since I last posted. Life has been more emotionally taxing since Dorian’s passing. Some days are better than others, and I know the grief is most severe for Saundra, who was, by far, the closest to Dorian. Basil and Victor (the latter being our newer black kitty we took in from the streets) have both taken on a couple of Dorian’s habits, which is really sweet, but it’s also kinda bittersweet. He’s missed every single day.
The last two months have been full of change. There’s been the ongoing adjustment of the household to being without Dorian, a lot of vet visits for the other pets, a new job for me (night shifts, make-up & heels required. GAH!), and finally writing a piece featuring a transman.
With the help of Kathleen Tudor/D.K. Jernigan, SMP put out a Valentine’s Day anthology pretty much at the last minute. The premise behind Sweethearts and Seduction is very simple: gay romance with a high fluff factor. Kathleen practically begged me to be part of the anthology, and though I had a vague idea in my head for a solo piece, it was incredibly difficult for me to write following Dorian’s passing. (Still is, truth be told.) She therefore tempted me by writing the opening to a story that she thought would be fun to co-write. This… was definitely a new thing for me. I’ve co-authored almost constantly as an author, having been pulled into writing and pretty much mentored by S.L. Armstrong (Saundra), but this was the first time I’d co-authored with anyone else. It was incredibly low stress and a lot of fun. Kathleen is pretty laid back, doesn’t mind improving some of what I write if it doesn’t strike quite the right tone, and when I was having difficulty, she was there to help. She also fully encouraged me to create Zane, my first transman character. He’s the love interest of Troy, a cis-gendered man who decides to propose to Zane even though it might put his roller rink business at risk. It’s a sweet story and was a welcome challenge for me, since I wanted to make Zane trans* without bashing the reader over the head or getting preachy.
Zane’s life in no way mirrors my own life, but there were certain elements of his character that I pulled from my own experience as a genderqueer individual. I did my best to keep him down to earth and focused on his own life rather than getting soapboxy about his state of being. This is a fluffy anthology, after all, so it wouldn’t have been appropriate for him to angst to that degree. I think he’d moved past that by the time we see him in “The Best Thing on Eight Wheels”. ;) Zane presents male and both binds and packs, though that isn’t spelled out in such plain terms in the short story. In my mind, he isn’t on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) because of a sensitivity to testosterone… but again, this isn’t explicitly stated in the short story. XD He’d happily get top surgery, but that’s an expense he can’t afford, especially with his partner’s business on the line. He has insecurities about his body and the way it still looks feminine in some ways, but he manages that with the support of family, friends, a loving partner, and someone whom I like to imagine is an excellent therapist. Do all trans* people need such things? Not necessarily, and many to varying degrees. But in my head, therapy and having a good support structure was the way he could deal with his transition at his own pace and doing only what he is comfortable doing.
So! I hope everyone checks out the Sweethearts and Seduction anthology. There are some really fun stories in it, and my personal favorite is Erik Moore’s “Sold!”, which has a fantastic mix of humor and seduction to it. Go check it out!
Coming up on the blog (soon-ish… I hope), I’ll be doing a random facts sort of meme, and I’m determined to write a post about underwear. No. Seriously. Underwear. You’ll see what I mean when I finally manage to get it written. It’s been bouncing around my brain since just before Christmas, so it’s long overdue. XD I hope everyone has a great St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow! Get your Irish on!
There’s a pain goes on and on…
Today, after a months-long struggle, our sweet kitten, Dorian, left this earth for the Rainbow Bridge. He died surrounded by those who loved him dearly, and we will all miss him terribly.
Throughout the decline of his health, we all weren’t sure what was ailing him, but the vet who saw to him at the end gave us a diagnosis that, now that we’ve researched it, explains every single bit of his illness. Dorian had Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which was brought on by the feline Coronavirus. We did all we could have done to prolong his life and give him a happy and healthy one to the very end, but there is no cure and no treatment for what he had, so when the time came, we had to say our goodbyes and let him go.
There’s a Dorian-shaped hole in all our hearts here at the Armstrong-Piet household. Dorian was the sweetest little kitty I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing and loving. He was very much Saundra’s cat, as you’ll see in the photo below. My roomies have two yellow Labradors whom I often walk in the evenings, and tonight as I walked them, I looked up at the sky and honed in on the moon and the constellation Orion. Dorian lived through the holidays and through Saundra and Roger’s 16th wedding anniversary (which was yesterday). He also lived through the full moon. It seems as the moonlight began to wane, so too did he, and it was as swift as the scorpion bite that killed Orion in Greek Mythology. I know all of that doesn’t take away from the grief of losing Dorian, but those are the things that went through my mind tonight as I walked. Dorian lived an amazing life, and he squeezed every moment of loving out of everyone in the household, especially Saundra. We’re just sad that his life with us was so very short.
The last photo we took of Saundra with Dorian – November 2013
May 2012 – January 2014
Our sweet kittle skittle. You’ll always be treasured in our hearts and spirits.
Happy New Year, everyone! First off, let me wish you all a safe, healthy, and productive 2014. :) I hope you and yours are able to celebrate and reinvent and thrive as we move into the new year. Face those challenges and triumph in 2014!
In 2013, I think I only met one of my New Years Resolutions (to see 3 movies in the cinema), so this year, I’m saying fuck that shit. I just want to celebrate what I loved best about books I read in 2013 and what I’m looking forward to in 2014. Just keep in mind that this is my personal list. I’m not magnificently well read, so I’m sure there are plenty of amazing titles outside of Storm Moon Press that I didn’t read or didn’t know about. ^_^
- Rhys Has a Crush by Melanie Tushmore
- An Invitation to Love by Blaine D. Arden
- In All Your Ways by Cari Z
Rhys Has a Crush is a wonderfully informal short with a rocker boy pulling a ploy to try to approach his crush via texting. Hilariously put together; I just loved it. An Invitation to Love is another example of Arden taking fantasy settings and running with them. This one involves language barriers as well as a ménage à trois, which is just full of win. Lastly, In All Your Ways (technically a 2012 book, but I read it in 2013) is an awesome love story taking place in the angels/demons mythos. It also ties into Cari Z’s Cambion series, so it’s definitely worth reading. Yay for freebies!
Favorite YA Book: Sinews of the Heart by Cody L. Stanford
Really, was there any other choice for me? No. I can’t shut up about this book, and you all have probably seen my proper review of it already, so I put it at the top here so you can just see that OF COURSE it makes my list… and you can move on to the rest. For those who haven’t seen the review, this is a trans*/genderqueer YA book in a post-apocalyptic setting with anthrotigers. It’s an exquisite read. ^_^
Favorite Short Story: Gift of Self by Kathleen Tudor
This trans* piece blew me away in the best way possible. Tudor really deals respectfully with the themes. Discovering the extent of your trans identity is tough enough alone, but there are even more things to consider when in an established relationship… especially one involving kink like the one between Jeffrey/Jessie and Athena. Weaving all those elements together takes a master hand, and Tudor has done just that with care and respect.
Favorite Novella: Thornless Rose by T.C. Mill
What can I say? This is an awesome sci-fi adventure story with an inhospitable alien planet and a bit of a romance tied into all the action. Sabotage and intrigue are tucked in there, along with some really fun linguistic details. When you have technology that translates for you, it’s nice to have a nod to the way things don’t quite translate between languages. Some words and meanings are inevitably lost or misunderstood, and I like that Mill took the time to recognize that when dealing with various alien races communicating with one another.
Favorite Novel: Cambion: Dark Around the Edges by Cari Z
This was released as a serial novel, and this ‘season’ was some of the best fiction I’ve read in a long time. I was gripping the edge of my seat and wanting to strangle Cari Z for making me wait to read the next bit in the serial. Now that it’s all compiled, others won’t have to go through that suspense, but it’s a great book filled with awesome supernatural/paranormal elements, plenty of action, and steamy scenes between the protagonists. I can’t wait to read more as the series continues, be it with the main characters or a number of the minor characters, who are equally engaging. :D
Favorite Anthology: Legal Briefs
It’s rare to get a mixed-bag anthology of various orientations/identities that jives well with me. Like most anthologies, not every story resonates with every reader. With Legal Briefs, I was overjoyed that three of the six stories are trans* and each of those three are completely different from one another. The authors involved with this anthology are excellent, and the fact it’s a charity anthology just makes it even better to me. The proceeds go to Lambda Legal, so if you’re looking for legal-themed erotic works, this anthology goes toward a great cause!
Favorite Drawn Covers:
The Dracones cover is easily my favorite this year. The color scheme is vivid, and I love the way Nathie worked the dragon in with a half-naked guy without any of it looking the least bit campy. The details in The Forester II‘s cover are exquisite, and I love that those covers for that series are from scenes in the stories themselves. And Forgotten Menagerie just makes me happy because there are shifters on the cover that are actually in the stories of the anthology. I just love that our authors got really creative when we told them to write unorthodox shifters! Nathie’s execution of our crazy themes never ceases to amaze me, and I will always be a huge fan of Nathie’s work.
Favorite Photo-Manip Covers:
- The Harvest: Taken by M.A. Church — Art by Lou Harper
- Bound by Ink by Kimber Vale — Art by ThinkSentient Ltd
- The Devil’s Midway by S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet — Art by ThinkSentient Ltd
Come on, the cover for The Harvest: Taken is just plain PRETTY! It’s everything I love about those science fiction covers with planets and hints of alien life on them. That it’s a wrap-around cover in the print version makes it even better. Get yourselves a copy of this book, guys. Seriously. And the other two covers are examples of the single releases we put out at the press. ThinkSentient Ltd did cover art that was then personalized for each story in a given anthology so they share the same basic covers but have their own titles visible. I love the multi-colored smoke in the covers for Written in Flesh, and the color scheme and demonic symbol layering in the covers for Devil’s Night really bring the ambiance for erotic demonic fiction. So happy with all these covers!
Favorite Upcoming Piece: “Red Filter” by D.K. Jernigan (aka Kathleen Tudor)
This story is to be included in the Blood Embrace anthology coming out from Storm Moon Press this year, and OH MY GOD. You guys, seriously. Psychic vampires with some power play and bondage. It’s sexy and amazing and did I mention sexy? I can’t wait for this story to be published, and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I have in pre-production. Am I wicked to tease you all? YES! But you’ve gotta read this when it comes out. It’ll knock your socks off… right along with your pants, hopefully. ;)
That’s my round-up for the new year! As for me, I’m just going to try to keep my head above water this time around. I have a lot of new things in the works, both personally and professionally, and I know I need to hit the ground running this year. I hope a lot of great things come of my efforts. ^_^ Have a great 2014, everyone!
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.! :D
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.