Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Holy Moral Disengagement, Batman!

(this was originally written during my class last year, but has been edited to better fit a blog post)

So, studying the Stanford Prison Experiment in my Psych class last year after the Milgram experiment, I immediately think of moral disengagement (and indeed, I'm sure this is where the concept came from).

It's especially interesting to me because the first book I completed was about Stockholm Syndrome, but the more I learn, the more I see other psychological concepts in play. I talk about moral disengagement later, but I realize that it happened fairly early on in the first book (since the series is about becoming/being the villain's flunky).

So when the professor said "You may think differently about 'evil,'" I couldn't help but think that I already do. Also makes me think about Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. And fans of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles -- Lestat is a despicable creature, yet beloved by tens of thousands of fans.

We're not looking at the various series' vampires who choose not to kill humans (Being Human, for example, before people start in on the conformist Twilight bashing). Lestat can't choose not to kill. "...they killed two, sometimes three a night." But as he's the protagonist, that's okay. (Yes, it started with Louis, but Lestat was Anne's "dark prince" -- the character that she was in love with). In the fourth book, he rapes a woman with absolutely no real consequences (including no major loss of audience).

It also makes me think of the shift of what we look for in a hero historically to now. For instance, going from Superman to Batman. Superman is this bright, optimistic character who derives his power from the sun, stands for truth, justice, blah blah blah.

Batman, though, comes from the darkness. He was created through an act of violence. He prowls the night. He is the darkness come to protect us.

What do these two have in common? They're criminals. Vigilantism is illegal; it's a crime. But they still engage in it (Spiderman obviously has a lot of focus on this, but Batman does as well). They stop major crimes whenever possible, but they do it without any authority, and they employ violence (early Batman killed, but sometime in the 80s, it was decided that he shouldn't do that, or use guns, etc.), break and enter, etc. But it's okay for them to break the law and hurt people because they're doing it in the name of justice.

The very existence of the Punisher really drives this home. He's not serving justice--his entire existence is devoted to revenge and death.

I love me some Deadpool. Who else loves him? Now, who would willingly subject themselves to an entire 24 hours with him? How about going on a mission with him? (I'm scared of anyone who wants to do that last part unless they're suffering the delusion that they can somehow stop him from wholesale slaughter with whatever amazing powers Hypothetical Person has).

We're taught moral disengagement from a young age in this way. Depending on what we choose to read, it becomes reinforced.

Heck, I forget how dark the material I'm writing is until I'm confronted by my readers. My two best friends -- one is my editor, the other is my oldest friend -- both have given me direct feedback to this effect. My oldest BFF won't read another book after the first. It disturbed her too greatly. Just to write this stuff takes a certain (mild though it may be... until you take into account that I believe in multiverse theory) amount of moral disengagement in and of itself.

That said, you know what disturbs me? The main 'romance' in the book is a classic domestic violence situation with one partner being blatantly abused by the other (nothing subtle here; if these were your neighbors, you would either be calling the cops on them or wishing someone else would), and people (including myself, to be honest, but I'm the one who dreamed the whole thing) love that pairing. The antagonist-turned-protagonist (as the protagonist falls in love with him) is presented as a sociopath, and people love him. People want to classify my first book, which is psychological horror, as romance.

"We like him, so it's okay if he does evil things like rape the protagonist, strive to create a dictatorship and kill people. We'll just not think about that part." On the plus side, that tells me that I wrote the character well. He's doing to the readers exactly what he did to the protagonist (and I love it).

This fiction entreats us to not only suspend disbelief, but also our morals. More, knowing all of this does not banish the effect. I still love me some Deadpool.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Short Story: The Midwife

This is just a short story I wrote a while back and found recently. Hypothetical future. Enjoy.

The Midwife

“Oh, Zoe, I'm so happy for you!” Kristen exclaimed. She sat forward and took Zoe's hands, sharing an excited smile. Her smile faded as she braced herself for the answer to her next question, as she always did. “So, have you contacted your OB?”
Zoe's eyes shifted to the side. She leaned over and turned her phone off. Kristen's spirits rose immediately. This was what she was always afraid to hope for.
“I'm not filing an Intent to Birth,” she whispered. Really, there wasn't any need, but people feared what could happen if they were caught talking about a natural birth. It wasn't allowed.
“You understand the risks, of course,” Kristen said, lifting her cup of tea and drinking. Zoe nodded, taking a drink of her own tea.
“I don't want to move to Norway,” Zoe said. “I don't like the cold. And my whole family has lived here since before the American Revolution. I shouldn't have to move just to have a baby,”
“I agree, obviously,” Kristen said. “I thought you might feel that way when you told me you'd applied to have your birth control system removed.”
“I had heard that... that you know of a midwife,” Zoe said softly.
“Oh, yes,” Kristen said. “I do.”

Zoe looked at the piece of paper with the address on it and double checked it against the number on the house in front of her. Part of her was so afraid that she wanted to run. Then she imagined the alternative, and she found the courage to knock.

“Now, I can't get in trouble, right?” Zoe asked. The midwife smiled. This was usually the first question asked of her.
“If you do not enter into an Obstetrical Contract, you won't fall under penalty of law if you deliver out of hospital. All of the risk is on me. If you tell anyone about what I do—”
“Oh, I would never do that!” Zoe said, taking her hand. The midwife patted Zoe's hand comfortingly.
“I know, dear, and we'll go over all the possible scenarios where you might need to transfer care later, along with stories to avoid culpability. But if anyone were to discover me, I would be arrested on charges of felony medical infringement and face a sentence of five to thirty years.”
“That's ridiculous!” Zoe snapped, her face flushing with anger.
“I know,” the midwife said with a sigh. “When my grandmother had my mother, women still had a choice in where and how they gave birth in most states. When my mother had me, women still had the choice of how. It's only been twenty years since the Mandatory Cesarean Act passed, and the population is already down ten percent.”
“Ten percent?” Zoe whispered.
“Well, Population Control would really like to see it drop another ten percent, but with it still illegal to perform any invasive procedure without written consent, they're reduced to fining people for having more than two children per couple. And then, of course, there are loophole kids.”
“Yeah, my husband and I aren't comfortable with that,” Zoe said. “We've talked about it, but we're really okay with two children. While it's unusual for a man to challenge for custody, it's been on the rise lately with black market adoption rates going up.”
“There's a bill in the House trying to eliminate that practice,” the midwife told her, “Although it's unknown if it will pass.”
“How?” Zoe asked.
“It provides that a man who sues for custody cannot put his child up for adoption. If he's found to have done so, he faces a twenty-thousand dollar fine or even more. The problem is that Pop Control is fighting it because the way things are now lowers the number of loophole babies for the exact reason you stated.”
“Wow. Well, if it passes, maybe we'll reconsider.”
“Even if it doesn't, there's a loophole to that problem anyway. Right now, a man can sue for custody of his child and automatically win if two or more children are already present in the home. However, if you have your loophole child before you have biological children or between your one allotment and your husband's allotment, he won't win.”
“I never even thought of that!” Zoe exclaimed, laughing. “That's brilliant!”
“I should warn you that if you need to transfer with your second child, you will be required to choose a permanent birth control device,” the midwife added.
“Is there no way around that?” Zoe asked.
“Some obstetricians are willing to do a five year survival clause in their OC, to provide that you aren't required permanent sterilization until your youngest child reaches their fifth year alive, at which time, you have a year to sterilize,” the midwife offered.
“That's sick!” Zoe protested. “It's like some kind of morbid warranty.”
The midwife nodded sympathetically.
“If you choose a vasectomy, you have two options still. If you're willing to pay the third child fine, you can try to conceive immediately, as soon as your husband feels up to it. After all, it takes vasectomies a while to take. That also leaves you open for a loophole baby. Of course, if you transfer during a loophole birth, many OBs make you sign a hysterectomy release for your c-section,” the midwife warned.
“This just all feels so wrong,” Zoe said. “Why is Norway the only place in the world, except for tribal areas, to not make birth into a legal situation?”
“According to my grandmother, it started out small. A few states criminalized midwifery when it was on the brink of becoming socially acceptable. OBs fought hard—buying studies, skewing outcomes—to prove that midwives were dangerous to mothers and babies. The cesarean rate was rising every year and then the ACOG gave the green light to start Obstetrical Contracts, which women were required to sign to use the practice.
“Originally, it was to guarantee exclusivity. The woman couldn't transfer care, but she knew exactly the care she would be getting. It didn't seem like a big deal, since that matched OBs with mothers who wanted their kind of care. Then the standard of care started shifting. There were no OBs that offered births without contracts, and then some hospitals stopped having rooms for labor, advertising as 'c-section only.'
“Next came the bill that legally defined childbirth as a medical procedure. That was the beginning of the end. They used it by the same logic that got midwives out of legal practice. Then came full practices offering nothing but cesarean delivery. Then, the mandatory cesarean act was passed. At this point, midwives were totally illegal and just coming out to protest drew the attention of the law. So we faded into the night. Women didn't want to risk being caught and trapped into an OC or lead the law back to their midwives, so they were afraid to make a lot of noise, too.”
“That's awful,” Zoe said, shaking her head in outrage. “Why did Norway stay separate?”
“They always have,” the midwife answered. “So, do you wish to hire me?”
“What's your fee?” Zoe asked.
“It's five thousand for prenatals and birth.”
“That's it?” Zoe asked, shocked. “It's fifty thousand to birth in a hospital!”
“Surgery is expensive,” the midwife said with a shrug. Zoe sighed.
“Do you accept payments?”
“Of course!” the midwife said cheerfully. “And if five thousand is a real hardship, we can work out barter if we need to.”
“Oh, no, I can afford it,” Zoe said with a smile. “As long as it's not all at once. How much if I have to transfer?”
“It depends on how far you get,” the midwife said. “Usually, we detect the need for transfers at five months, so that would be two thousand.”
“I can't believe how cheap it is!” Zoe said.
“We aren't out to make profit,” the midwife said. “Almost all midwives have some kind of side business to live on. Now, what month are you due?”
“According to the online calculator: October first.”
“Good, I don't have any clients in late September or any time in October right now, so I have no problem taking you.”
“I'm glad,” Zoe said, visibly relaxing.
“Remember that you cannot announce your pregnancy in any public forums, social media, et cetera. If you get followed to me, I'll be out of business, and you'll end up with an OB.”
“Got it,” Zoe said. “Can I know your name?”
“No, I'm sorry,” the midwife said. “But you may call me Ann. And of course, all payments must be in cash.”
“Of course,” Zoe agreed. “How many babies have you delivered?”
“I've caught around three hundred babies,” the midwife answered. “I've been doing this for twenty-five years. I started apprenticing when I was sixteen. I was amazed when I saw my first vaginal birth.”
“How do OBs stop women from having accidental vaginal births?” Zoe asked.
“All mothers are sectioned at thirty-seven weeks, unless they show signs of labor before that. That's why NICUs have to be so advanced. Many babies who are supposed to be thirty-seven weeks along are actually thirty-five and even thirty-seven weekers aren't always ready. Plus, just the cesarean itself raises the risk to the baby's lungs and digestive system.”
“Wait, you mean pregnancy isn't thirty-seven weeks?” Zoe asked.
“Yes. Oh, you didn't account for that?” the midwife asked. “I should have asked. Silly of me. You'll actually be due October twenty-second, then.”
“Wow, that's almost a whole month!”
“It could be even two or three more weeks after that,” the midwife warned.
“Really?” Zoe exclaimed.
“You'll be most likely to go in almost November. Changing your mind?” The midwife gave Zoe a teasing smile.
“No! No, I'm... just surprised is all. I didn't know pregnancy was... forty weeks long!” Zoe shook her head in surprise. “Even forty-two or forty-three? I've never heard of that!”
“Oh, I've seen two pregnancies that went forty-four and forty-five weeks respectively,” the midwife said. “I was really nervous about the forty-five weeker, but her baby, while a bit overcooked, was still nice and healthy.”
“Do... do I have to go that long?” Zoe asked, a small tremor in her voice.
“No, but it's better to let your baby decide when it's time,” the midwife explained. “If you get really uncomfortable and go to forty-two weeks, there are things we can do to tell baby it's time.”
“Oh, good.” Zoe stood up and the midwife stood up as well. Zoe offered her hand and the midwife took and shook it. “Thank you, Ann.”
“You're welcome, Zoe. That's what I'm here for: the truth. Unfortunately, that's something most people are scared of anymore.”
“Oh, I'm scared,” Zoe admitted, “but I want to do this.”
“I'm so glad,” the midwife said. “Do you have an ereader?”
“Of course,” Zoe said. “Why?”
“I have some books that you should read. You don't want to go near most of the books in the bookstores—they just focus on preparing you for surgery and obeying your doctor. These are really old books from the days back when women birthed vaginally seventy percent of the time.”
“I can't even imagine that,” Zoe said. “I'll bring my ereader at the next visit. It's been a pleasure meeting you.”
“It's been a pleasure meeting you, too. Have a happy and healthy nine months,” the midwife wished her. Zoe shook her head in amazement. Nine months! Everyone else she had ever met had always said eight months, except grandmas, who didn't talk much about birth at all.
Maybe they knew as little as she had. She was amazed at the knowledge that time could steal and the cleverness of humans in preserving old information thought to be lost to time. Now if only that wisdom could help her do what she believed her body had to be capable of doing.
She hoped that the ability to give birth hadn't been bred out of her. Zoe supposed Population Control would be happy if it had. Sometimes she wondered just how far they would go to maintain their quotas.
Now that she knew more about the statistics, more than just a fear of surgery drove her. No, now it was a duty. A service to the human race, to remember that biology was as important a science as technology. It only made sense that she, as a biology student, was part of a movement to prove it.
She only hoped that some day, she could share her knowledge with the world that so desperately needed it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Musing on Social Media

Oh, my! I forgot to post in February! I swear that month just flew by for me.

So I'm here because a friend posted that she noticed she prefers to share positive things in her life but didn't want that to be mistaken for having a perfect life. This led to me thinking about this phenomenon. I've seen it plenty -- the memes about how posting nothing but positive means people are putting on a 'mask' or being 'fake.' Or people who post nothing but negative are 'drama queens.'

I think that's an utter fallacy. Certainly, there may be each personality type in both categories, but I think that perception is important here.

Some people only think of social media with the good moments, some with the bad, some with the all (I think I'm that one). I've never had that thing where I think people who don't post bad are living perfect lives. I figure they just like to share the happy. I don't think that people who post nothing but bad have miserable lives. I figure they just reach out for support/help this way. I think we're all more well-rounded than our social media profiles.

I posted that comment to my friend's wall, and someone else posted that I caused him to reflect on his usage of social media. I love getting replies like that. Often, when I post something controversial, it's not with the intention of changing minds (that can be great when it's something like, oh, say, ending a bigotry), but more that I want people to think, to reflect.

This was my reply:

I originally joined Facebook because a friend asked me to (in 2006) -- I think so that she could have another person with whom to play games.

I've found it a very valuable tool to promote my writing, definitely, but I use my page for my professional stuff, so I can be more myself and post controversial opinion stuff here. I'm very careful what I post/promote as an author to avoid alienating readers. I only post things that touch on themes that I'm open about in my books (such as being pro-equality/equity).

On my personal FB, I'll post things about many more social issues, parenting stuff (since I'm a mom), geek stuff (since I'm a geek, lol), etc. I do share a little bit of my private/personal life on my author page, but mostly as it pertains to being a reader/writer or is just a big event for me.

I have friends from all walks of life. Sometimes it can be tiring, seeing those who post nothing but negativity, but I can easily scroll and find some positive to lift me back up if needed, and there are times when I'm so far down, I'm the one posting all the negative -- and then there they are.

The ones who cry out so often tend to be the ones who are ready with arms outstretched when their friends need them. I never regret taking a few seconds to give them love and send out a thought that things will get better for them.

Nor do I get tired of seeing people who just bask in the joys of life.

In all, what I'm here for is to be a part of the human experience -- the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful and everything in between.

So, those are some of my thoughts on social media (specifically Facebook) and its usage. Care to share yours?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rant regarding "Gay Lifestyle"

This rant was originally posted on my personal facebook page, but has been updated for this entry.

Pictured: Not a lifestyle. Just a couple.
Being gay is not a "lifestyle."

It isn't a choice.

I'm. Gay.

No, not 100%. I'm about 80%. I didn't choose to fall in love with a guy any more than I chose to fall in love with my girlfriend before him. Love isn't a choice. (nor am I complaining -- I love my husband, and am very aware of how awesome it is that he loves me, too)

A "lifestyle" is a choice. Being vegan is a lifestyle. Being a bigot is a lifestyle. Being a paleontologist is a lifestyle (for some). Being a biker is a lifestyle. Being someone who loves to wear little hats (and does) is a lifestyle.

Pictured: some people's obsession. Credit: stockxchng

Being gay is like having a great metabolism or tiny toenails or good skin or a lighter beard than the hair on your head. It's a part of you that you have no control over.

Even being Bisexual/Pansexual, you still don't. have. a. Choice. People think you have more choices, but really, no. I mean, you have a choice for who you sleep with, sure, but not who you fall in love with and want to marry. That stuff's just going to happen.

Gay people have lifestyles, like everyone else. Some revolve around their sexuality, but their sexuality itself is not a lifestyle. Hell, being married is a lifestyle. But it's no different for a straight couple than a gay couple, outside there being only one gender. 

Sure, maybe the married gay couple down the street in house 21b has a different marriage style than the heterosexual married couple in house 25a. So what? So might the other heterosexual married couple across the street in house 26. That doesn't have anything to do with their (any of these hypothetical couples') sexual preference -- it has to do with their relationship preferences.

So when you're 'disapproving' of someone being gay, you're 'disapproving' of a part of who they are just like someone who 'disapproves' of someone being black/Hispanic/Asian/First Nation/white/Italian/German/Irish/Korean/Luba/Jamaican/Maya/Cherokee/British, etc. etc. It's not racism, but these statements are equally bigoted:

"I don't approve of them being black."

"I don't approve of their [a gay person's] lifestyle [in reference to their being gay]."

Sure, you can disapprove of their actual lifestyle. Say, you don't approve of gamers or gardeners or church-goers (don't even get me started on the number of churches that are open and welcoming to gay members of the congregation). That just makes you douchey, but not necessarily bigoted (disapproving of someone's lifestyle of dog fighting or creating crush videos or participating in modern slavery would be different, obviously).

Disapproving of his wardrobe choices: personal taste. Disapproving of him being a drag queen: douchey.

Stop calling 'being gay' a 'lifestyle.' Just stop it. It's not. End rant.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Musing on the Rock-It 3.0

So, I randomly do product reviews for the fun of it. This is one of those.

I love music. Do you? Do you have a laptop with such crappy speakers that you can't hear a frelling thing? I do. I also like to listen to music while I cook, but find my headphone cord gets caught on everything (or I'm not wearing something with pockets, and keep dropping my phone). 

My friend was telling me about a new toy he got a week or so ago. It was this little thing that sticks to objects to turn them into speakers. Looks like your typical infomercial junk on the surface.

They work.

He sent me the infomercial first; then he made a video so I could hear it in action. I tried to do that, but screwed up recording and there's no chance my kids will be quiet for 30 seconds again to show you how much my door rocks.

I wanted them right away, but my husband asked a smart question when I was looking for the best price: "Do any retail stores carry it in the area?"

I went to check. I found it at Bed, Bath and Beyond, of all places, for only $9.99 on clearance. Score! Only white. Bleh! Oh, well, that was $5 cheaper than the cheapest amazon price. I could deal with it.

But then came the problem that we couldn't get up to the store to do the site-to-store thing. I figured I'd end up buying them on amazon eventually once they ran out at BB&B. Nope. I got to go up there today!

That's right, they were marked down to $4.99. So I bought two, because one of their features is the ability to 'daisy chain' them to make more sound (or play through more surfaces to get a more full sound). I was planning to spend $9.99, so $9.98 for two was an even better deal.

I figured that at worse, they'd be a fun novelty toy for the kids. At best, I could fix my laptop issue and have music for cooking. I got the best case scenario. My husband plugged one in in the car to charge a bit and then I tested it on the box it came with (good, but a little high on treble for what I like), the van windows (awesome), the van roof (also awesome), my forehead (don't judge me, you know you want to do that now -- it sounded like the music was coming from inside my nose, it was weird), etc.

When I got home, I plugged them in to charge (they start out green and turn red when fully charged, which seems weird). Once they were all charged, it was a free for all through the house. We tried everything from the TARDIS cookie jar to the refrigerator, toaster, oven, bathtub, every door I could find... you get the picture.

The kids brought me every box they had, toy bins, random toys, etc. and we had a sound experiment. No, barbies don't make good speakers. Yes, the orange crate does. Thick objects don't work well, thin, hollow objects work best. Different materials make different tones.

And the sticky pad can be wiped off with a wet finger, allowed to dry (takes 10 seconds at most) and voila. Sticky as new. That was cool to the kids, too, who thought I ruined it when I got it wet.

In the end, I found that my oven vent makes a really good speaker, and the cabinet above it makes an awesome subwoofer. Combined, they are a great stereo system, so cooking will be even more fun from now on.

The infomercial was accurate as far as I've tested it. I'm going to enjoy being a music wizard for a long time to come, I hope!

(something else I just realized after testing it on my guitar is that if I can find my audio jack adapter, I can use my acoustic-electric guitar as its own amp -- I'm so doing this as soon as I find it.)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Kidget Update January 2014

So, I haven't posted anything Mommy related in a while! For shame! As a result, I figure it's time to post an update on my kidgets.

Lilly is seven now! She's a math wiz, struggles a little with reading more due to confidence than actual ability and loves listening to me lecture on just about any science subject I can come up with. Her "most" favorite color is green (as all the colors are her favorite). Her favorite pokemon are Pikachu and Jigglypuff (which was also a hard decision, because there are SO many).

Naomi is five! She has lost two baby teeth and has a grown-up tooth partway in already! She's still a great little artist, which means that her penmanship is equal to and/or greater than her big sister's. She has calmed down a lot in the last year and seldom has the massive unpredictable meltdowns anymore. I do wish she had a volume adjuster. I don't know if she knows how to speak in a volume between whisper and shout. Her favorite color is pink, favorite pokemon are Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Meowth.

Katarina is two! When she was conceived, I wrote my first book. As a result, I wondered if she had her own little muse conceived at the same time. This kid is FULL of imagination. Since she was a tiny baby, she has engaged in imaginative play with her sisters. Instead of getting frustrated when they 'pretend' fed her, she would laugh! She acts out little stories with her toys. For her educational stuff, she can count to five:

While she is unable to tell me her favorite color or pokemon, she did climb up into my lap and tell me that she was a pikachu the other day.

My kids' current obsession is pretending that they're Team Rocket (not Kat, she's there to yell, "Oh no, Team Rocket!" and run away). They're great sisters. Sure, they have their moments where there's screams and "Naomi scratched me!" "Kat bit me!" "Lilly sat on me!" but in general, they stick up for each other (especially Kat, who never misses an opportunity to chew someone out, including me, in defense of someone else), help each other out and genuinely seem to like each other.

I'm not sure how I lucked out this much, but it's got to be the balance to their destructiveness. Last year, they broke a bassinet, an ottoman, a washing machine (tore off the metal bit that pushes the button to tell the machine the door is closed), a tree (I don't even know how), their learning tower (repeatedly -- it's pretty easy to repair), their easel, numerous dolls and to end the year, they tore the freezer door off the fridge (the metal is twisted, but I got it back to working order).

"You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have..."

Sometimes I wonder how they can be so smart and so dumb at the same time. It's fortunate that they're so darned cute.

See how nicely she cuts her cake? She will do it herself and woe to any who attempt to abrogate her.

Her feet are blurred because they are never still. I think they even move in her sleep.

Cheesy grin from my adorable stinker.

And here's the end of the post

Sunday, December 22, 2013


In July of 2012, I had the pleasure of announcing that I had become a published author, with my first book, Hotel of Lost Souls. In February, I had the joy of announcing the sequel, Pet

If you like vampires and Urban Fantasy (especially Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse), then you should like my books! Hotel and Pet were a blend of Urban Fantasy and Psychological Horror. Bridges is much more Urban Fantasy/Dark Fantasy. It explores the relationships between the characters and Zack finding his place in his world. It's about life and death and life after death.

From the back cover:

When Zack Henderson made the decision to abandon his ordinary human life, he thought he was giving up on any semblance of normality. The last five years of his life have certainly given him no reason to believe otherwise.

Normal is a point of view.

Zack and his family aren't very traditional, but they are most definitely a family. Now a new threat has moved into town to attempt to destroy it. For years they have put off moving on with their lives. Now it is finally time to face the bridges that once seemed so far away. They can only hope that the threat from the darkness doesn't burn them as they cross.

You can read a sample chapter on Amazon or Lulu and if you like it, you can purchase it from Barnes and NobleAmazon, Kobo or Smashwords. All the links for purchase are available at my website.

You don't need an eReader to read my eBook, either! You can read the book now on your phone, tablet, iPad or computer using the Nook App or the Amazon Kindle App (both of which are free!). If you're using an iPad or iPod, you can get Stanza, a free eReading app and read any format that you like! Several other apps are available, too.

If nothing can replace the feel and smell of a real book for you, head on over to Lulu and pick up a slightly-larger-than-average paperback! You'll get to experience it the way it was meant to be read! eBooks can't display the little artsy touches at the beginning of each chapter or the fonts that the handwritten notes in the story use. With a physical book, you get back cover art, too!

You can follow my author page on Facebook if you would like updates on future titles and to be able to connect with me personally as well as other readers. Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me over the years and to everyone who purchased a copy of Hotel of Lost Souls and Pet!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Musing on Polyamory


Well, first, I guess I should state that I'm monogamous, but poly-inclusive. Why am I covering this topic? Well, outside of it being a part of the fiction series I'm writing, I have several polyamorous friends. Now, let me explain what I'm talking about.

Polyamory (or multiamory/polyphilia if you dislike the combination of Greek with Latin, but the word already exists, is already in common usage and you just really need to deal with it, polyglots) is the opposite of monogamy, basically. It's "the philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time."

Now, the first reaction of most people who've been raised in a monogamous society is to reject the idea as selfish, immature, unhealthy, etc. In actuality, selfishness and immaturity are counterproductive to a polyamorous lifestyle. They have no place in any healthy relationship -- and monogamous relationships are just as prone to the exact same issues. As for healthy? Any relationship can be healthy or unhealthy depending on maintenance, maturity, commitment, consent, etc. Read more about myths of polyamory.

I once didn't 'get' polyamory. I couldn't understand how you could love more than one person at a time. Then I realized how silly I was being -- of course you can! Any mother of more than one child already does. You don't stop loving your firstborn for your second, or your third, etc. Your love isn't a cup to be filled, but a bag of holding without any weight limit.

Not everyone is built to do this with romantic relationships. There are people who want to say that poly is the 'natural' state, but I feel that's a slippery slope. It falls into the narrow minded idea of 'normal.' The fact is that there are multiple states of 'natural.' 

Not all humans are naturally poly, just as not are all naturally mono or even sexual. They're all variations of 'normal.' (quick rant to poly people who pull this card: yes, one person can be everything you need in one type of a relationship, and be perfect for you. Don't go anti-mono just because you're not. That's as bad as being anti-poly.) To say otherwise is like saying everyone is naturally bisexual or everyone is heterosexual/homosexual, etc. It's just not true.

Now, to explain the different types of poly relationships:

An open relationship is when you are actively allowed to add to your existing relationship(s). A poly relationship can be closed just like a monogamous one. This is called polyfidelity. This can change according to the needs of the relationship(s)/people in them. One thing you must be in poly relationships is open and communicative. If your communication is poor, it will fail (or at least struggle until everyone is miserable).

"Swinging" is purely sexual. It's a relationship that is open to trade/swap partners or explore outside sexual relationships without attachment. Swinging can be a risk to the couple at the core if attachment occurs, as this usually occurs in couples that are not willing to share emotional relationships (and note that they are still a 'couple' -- this is a two person bond that explores outward typically). Read more on swingers.

All dynamics are different. Some groups choose to include marriage, some do not. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' as long as healthy communication and full consent are involved.

Some people use a hierarchy system while others feel that's demeaning (and how the hierarchy is established varies as well -- some by 'importance,' some love vs sex, for instance, and some by time spent).

Some are mono-poly practicing, where one member is monogamous and the other is polyamorous and the mono member is okay with the poly dating. Some are mono-poly closed, where the poly member has agreed to live monogamously to respect the wishes/belief/heart of his/her significant other.

Mono-poly relationships are tricky in that most people are jealous, but especially when one cannot understand the drive of the other. Selfishness of any kind can easily destroy the mono-poly relationship. Feeling that you aren't being allowed to explore your sexuality/ability to love on the poly's part (this person may have regular trouble in poly relationships as well, because selfishness can lead to jealousy as quickly as possessiveness does, so therapy would be in order regardless of their decision to remain mono-poly or leave to become full poly) or being unwilling to accept that the other person has different emotional needs on either part or feeling that your partner doesn't 'love you enough' because they can't prevent themselves from falling in love with someone else.

Poly people strive for an emotion currently termed 'compersion' -- this is finding joy in the happiness of those you love, unselfishly. I actually strive for that myself. I'm mostly there, but when my needs aren't being met, I lose it (which is completely normal).

Poly-poly relationships come with social stigma and are more work and maintenance. All relationships require work and maintenance. Poly people who are committed to healthy relationships are just as equipped to deal with the extra work as mono people.

Small note: Helper personalities (people who want to fix things, mediate -- people like me) can be the utter death of a relationship if they can't learn to shut up and let the others figure it out on their own. They either stress themselves out not being able to help or accidentally sabotage other people's relationships because they are trying to push for communication that the others aren't ready for. Therapists are both great and terrible in poly relationships.

Both monogamous and polyamorous relationships have the potential for amazing rewards. There is no superior/inferior here. Only what your romantic orientation leads you to. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Musing on the Sun (satirical rant)

credit: stockxchng
credit: stockxchng
Everywhere I look, I see pro-sun propaganda. No one can deny that the sun is a life-bringing supplier of essential heat and vitamins and all things good, right?
credit: stockxchng
credit: stockxchng
Wrong! Instead, I submit that the sun is a dealer! Getting us hooked on vitamin D and artificial conditions inconsistent with the majority of the universe so that we are confined to the small sphere of existence to which it provides a constant fix.

In the meantime, it is sitting there, kept alive by the burning rage that it can't get just a little closer and snuff out our meaningless, parasitic existences. Always just a small overdose of radiation away from succeeding in ridding itself, a magnificent body of searing plasma that has no need of filthy constructs to thrive in the dark vacuum of space, of our annoyance.

Yet, without us and our ball of mud and gasses, its existence would have no meaning.
The loneliness would be intolerable. So it keeps its distance, grudgingly providing us the building blocks of our inferior lives while we cower and marvel at the mixed blessing it bestows upon us.
Those of us with poor melanin production are tapped into this truth. Our skin doesn't revel in the mercurial touch of abusive Sol. It cringes and shrinks, dies and peels. Sometimes it throws up meager spotty defenses, particularly on those unfortunate enough to be born with hair the color of fire, as if in defiance of our blazing master.
credit: me via bitstrips