Sam and Lena sitting in a tree…

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Just look at this beautiful artwork for Rise of the Chosen!

If you haven’t read it yet and are interested, you can check it out here:  https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Chosen-Lifeblood-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01KL51PKC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Here is the full image:

 

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Three LGBTQIA Romance short stories in one review, oh my!

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I received these at the same time as ARCs from Less Than Three Press on NetGalley. Seeing how they are very similar concepts, I decided to read them all first and then do a collective review. It actually worked out rather nicely!

Witches & Wolves by Kelly D. Smith

This one kind of made me wonder how it made into publishing. I don’t read many short stories, so I thought maybe the standards were lower? The writing felt like a high school girl who read too much Twilight and decided to give writing a try. There isn’t a complex sentence in sight. I’m talking, “She sat down. He looked at her and stood up. She yawned.” Yea, kind of like that.

So I wasn’t surprised when I reached the author bio to see it say she’s a 19 year old who likes to write erotica. Hey, keep on doing what you’re doing, girl, you can only get better!

The actual story was intriguing, and a part of me wished the writer took some time to elaborate on many of the finer points. This could have been so much more interesting if it wasn’t so rushed through the scenes. It was the shortest of the three books, and it definitely showed.

So if you’re looking for middle grade writing with some adult concepts, you might like it.

Servants of the Living Forest by Brandon L. Summers

Now this one was much better, in both writing technique and character development. I enjoyed it from the get-go, with the unconventional identities and bad-horror-movie plot. It was fun and actually strangely unpredictable, at least as far as these types of genres go. I wouldn’t say it was literary genius or anything, but I give it a thumbs up for a fun quick read.

Witch, Cat, and Cobb by J.K. Pendragon

Unknowingly, I saved the best for last! Now this story is definitely a worthwhile read. The writing is very sophisticated, engaging, and witty. The plot had an even flow where I didn’t feel like I was reading a short story and skipping important bits for length, but a true novel.

Now, I won’t deny it, by the end I felt like I read a fantasy edition of a Jerry Springer episode, but I enjoyed it so that’s all that matters, right?

I will definitely be checking out more by the author, and I would recommend you do the same!

Everyone Knows You Don’t Discriminate.

Without the context, the title of this blog can be very misconstrued. It will be misconstrued, because it’s not about you. It’s about her, and it’s about me.

“Her” being the main character in my novel. I should, one of these days, write about my novel. Maybe next time. Anyway.

“Her” name is Sky and she’s an 18 year old academy graduate with a crazy ex-boyfriend who loves rock and hates putting away clothes.

Sky also has a girlfriend.

Sky gets very lucky (or very unlucky depending how you look at it) and a jealous person asks her how she scored the deal. The person implies her sleeping with some important people, making a reference to a certain female because “everyone knows you don’t discriminate”.

And there’s your context.

When I wrote that part of the chapter, I wanted to find a way to make references to a non-straight character normal. She wasn’t struggling with her sexuality. There is no open prejudice for it in the world I built. It’s just there.

Therefore, when making a reference to it specifically, I couldn’t say “everyone knows what you like” or “everyone knows you play both sides”. Because that implies she is deviating from the norm.

Except she is.

So I found a way where it meant the opposite of what it would mean today. “Everyone knows you don’t discriminate” doesn’t mean anything wrong. It means that she is more.  

It makes me feel good to create a character who never has to deal with a society that condemns deviation in sexuality.

Demonstrators hold up posters with a picture of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and a pink Union Flag during a protest against Russia's new anti-gay propaganda law, outside Downing Street in central London August 10, 2013. Hundreds of people called for the government to push Russia to repeal the laws, that have attracted international condemnation.   REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Demonstrators hold up posters with a picture of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and a pink Union Flag during a protest against Russia’s new anti-gay propaganda law, outside Downing Street in central London August 10, 2013. Hundreds of people called for the government to push Russia to repeal the laws, that have attracted international condemnation. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN – Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

When I was growing up in Russia, “gay” did not exist. The concept of being homosexual was not a real thing. There were jokes about men in entertainment being “blue” (a slang term equivalent to being ‘a fruit’) but in all actuality, gay is just not something you could “be” if that makes sense. The idea that a man could love another man or a woman could love another woman and be in a romantic or sexual relationship was nonexistent. In a way, the government still tries to keep it that way and it breaks my heart.

I was 11 when I moved to the United States. When I was 13, I went over the house of a new friend and saw printed pictures on her bedroom wall of Heero and Duo from the anime Gundam Wing. They were kissing. I will never forget seeing that for the first time and the following conversation that changed my life.

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Me: Is that two boys?

Her: Yea, it’s Heero and Duo.

Me: But they’re kissing.

Her: Yea, so?

Me: … They can do that?

This is how disconnected my understanding of sexuality was. They can do that? Yes, of course they can do that! Why wouldn’t they be able to do that?

I wasn’t disgusted by it. I wasn’t against it from the get go. I was shocked and confused that two boys could kiss because it seemed so foreign to me as a concept.

Because of this, when people ask me when I knew I wasn’t straight the answer is too complicated for a number. When did I first start being attracted to women or when did I learn what being attracted to women meant? Because those two things are completely different.

I hear it all the time. “If you’re gay you know you’re gay”. But that’s not true. I was since I was 6 but I didn’t know until I was 13 because I didn’t know what it was. Looking back the signs were all there. I would always play the prince instead of the princess. I would wish I was a boy because it would make more sense to me. Looking back, if I knew that homosexuality existed, I would have never felt so broken.

And with the simple words, “They can do that?” the pieces somehow fell into place.

When I dated boys, and I was always in control. Always knowing what to say and what to do.

When I got my first girlfriend, I finally found out what it’s like to be nervous on a date. What it’s like to blush and fumble my words. This is what it must feel like, I thought, to be a boy.

Since then, life has been a whirlpool of emotions. Heartbreak. Homophobia. I’ve encountered it all. And now as I write this I’m happily married with children. Yes, to a man. Because sexuality has never been simple for me. Because of all the words there to describe it: pansexual, omnisexual, bisexual, homoerotic, heteroromantic, etc etc I can’t just take a label and put it on myself because it all feels wrong. So I just go with ‘not straight’. That’s good enough for me.

There’s a lot more to say and I will write about it here and there.

But today, I’m writing about a place where everyone knows I don’t discriminate. And it’s ok.