An open letter to those posting about Joshua Duggar: a survivors viewpoint #JoshuaDuggar #19kids #SexualAssault

I spent all day yesterday avoiding Facebook. I’m an author, and I use Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms for marketing. So that means is I got no work done. I spent the day watching Hallmark series on Netflix and avoiding social media. I’ve told several people, those whom I would consider friends, but I’m not sure I’ve announced it publicly yet. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I was a victim once but a consider myself a survivor.

Needless to say this gives me a unique perspective. It also means I’m susceptible to triggers, which would be why I spend all day yesterday avoiding social media. Joshua Duggar is the oldest child of a gigantic family. And he made some mistakes, bad mistakes. I feel, given my position, I have a unique perspective on what’s going on, on what’s happening, on what should and should not be happening.

It’s hard to understand why posting something about this is hard. You’re not just sharing the gossip of the world, but you’re exposing friends and family who have been assaulted to something that could potentially trigger them in unwanted feelings and emotions. Each and every time something comes out about a celebrity and sexual assault, I have to avoid all social media. It’s not easy. It’s a disruption to my life, but it’s not only that.

I get to see defenders of whatever party is being accused, and I get to see people who wish desperately violent thoughts on the offender. Neither one is healthy. Neither one is good. And neither one is appropriate. Joshua Duggar is an offender. He admitted it, which frankly doesn’t really happen all that often, so I have to give him props for that. My own abuser won’t admit it. His family won’t admit how often it’s happened or that it’s even happened (and yes, it wasn’t just to me). To them it’s all just in my head, so having your abuser and your abusers family admit that it happened is a way to propel the abused toward healing.

Admitting what happened is a HUGE step toward making something else happen with the offender. That something else is recovery. It’s probably very much like an addiction in this one regard. The temptations never go away, but when you’re recognizing them, they’re easier to deal with and resist. Easier doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. Easier doesn’t mean the temptations will go away and vanish. Easier doesn’t mean forgiveness shouldn’t be given or action against the offender (legal action) shouldn’t be taken.

I, even as a survivor of sexual assault, think people can change. I have to believe that; I have to have hope people can otherwise where would this world be? We’d be stuck in dark, depressing times that don’t function to move forward in any direction. Does that mean I think Joshua Duggar has changed? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think me as a public viewer of the show from a distance can make that determination at all. What I do know is this.

People change. People make mistakes. People have sicknesses that makes them unable to control their temptations. It takes work, hard work and constant work and consistent work to make changes in our own personal lives. Nothing is every “fixed” by a few months of counseling, especially something like this. Admitting what happened is only one step. Taking responsibility is another. Continuing to protect yourself and others from having molestation, rape, assault, whatever happen again, is a step that never stops happening.

So please, to those of you who keep posting about, to those of you who keep saying things, think about this:

1. Each post you make can trigger someone who has experienced abuse in the past.
2. It’s a complicated situation, and making broad statements of death and dismemberment hurts not only society in your negativity but those who have suffered abuse in creating a new trauma, and those who are actually trying to work on their problems (I’m not saying Joshua Duggar is; I’m saying some people are).
3. We do need to talk about sexual abuse. Completely 100% agree on that. But why is it we only talk about sexual abuse when it involves a celebrity? If 7 out of every 10 women are sexually assaulted by the time they finish college (which was a statistic I was given in high school, so it’s probably changed now), which is a RIDICULOUS number by the way, then we NEED to be talking about sexual assault in a very very different way. We need to talk about it realistically and not just when it’s the newest gossip on the block.

Here are some good websites to help those dealing with sexual assault and to help educate those around them.

RAINN
Joyful Heart Foundation
Safe Horizon
Speak Your Silence
Women’s Freedom Center

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Hentai #brokentaboos

There are certain sexual relationships that are taboo. They are even taboo to those who read erotica. One of those is sex with tentacles. It’s something people don’t talk about don’t read. It’s more an anime thing than a book thing. Hentai is the proper name for most tentacle sex things, but hentai implies that one of the partners is unwilling.

Last summer, Storm Moon Press put out an open call for lesbian tentacle sex. Typically it’s written in the male/female form and not in the lesbian form. Writing tentacle sex for lesbians was a challenge in and of itself. I had never written tentacle sex, but the challenge seemed intriguing enough that I wanted to try it.

So I did.

I wanted to make my tentacle sex different though. I wanted it to be 100% consensual, because I’m huge into consensual sex, and I wanted it to be sensual and not wham bam thank you ma’am. Tentacles, or anything weird or abnormal, isn’t accepted as real erotica.

It’s quite interesting. And I’m noticing this trend with sales of my tentacle sex story. There are hardly any. I think we’ve maybe sold fifteen copies of it and had a few more lend it on KU. It’s a bit crazy. People are so hungry for erotica, for things that are “abnormal” with BDSM, but once it crosses the line from human to human they are no longer interested in it and it becomes something scary.

It becomes something they don’t want to touch with a ninety million foot pole. It’s crazy! Who knew writing tentacle erotica was such a bad thing?

What I think part of the issue is that society doesn’t allow people, and women in particular, to explore their sexuality in any way possible. What’s really all that different between a tentacles and a dildo? Not all that much. But people aren’t allowed to like what’s not normal in a sexual relationship, things need to be kept vanilla.

I read a lot and even the BDSM I read is pretty vanilla. It’s the same story retold by different authors over and over again. Female sub, male Dom, female has some history of sexual assault with her previous Dom and the current Dom is the only one who can fix it through magical sex that makes the sub realize just how awesome sex is and how wrong she had been previously because of her sexual assault.

Aside from me sitting there going, What the Fuck is this Crap! And This author CLEARLY has never known anyone deeply who has experienced sexual assault, it’s a story that has become vanilla. It’s the stereotype, it’s the form, it’s really the only way many people will read BDSM stories. BDSM is no longer the outlier, well, this form of BDSM. I do still think real BDSM stories are still in the outlier because hardly anyone writes them properly.

Tentacles and sex is very much what BDSM used to be, although I doubt it’ll ever make a breakthrough like BDSM did. Until then, I might write it on the side. It really was a fun challenge to take on. And if you’re interested in reading a sensual tentacles and sex story with virgins, coming out, and societal commentary, check out my short story Loneliness Ebbs Deep.

Authenticity of Masturbation #brokentaboos

I’ve read a whole lot of romance books in my life. It’s one of my secrets that I read and hardly anyone knows about. I tend to like romance over erotic romance and definitely over erotica, and yes there is a difference.

But sex wasn’t always acceptable in piece. It’s still not acceptable in a lot of pieces. I do write sex scenes. Not in every book I have, but I do write them when the story fits. Now, sex isn’t necessarily seen as something that’s bad any more in books. Not with the blast of Fifty Shades of Grey and books similar. In the last ten to fifteen years, writing and reading romance has become acceptable.

I definitely remember a time when it was not okay to tell people I read Nora Roberts but it was perfectly acceptable to tell people I read J. D. Robb. Yup, times have changed and they’re still changing. Sex in novels is almost expected now. What’s interesting to me is that I get flack for my novels that don’t have sex in them. They’re seen as not having enough romance. Well, to start they’re not romance novels, but still I don’t think sex is necessary. There’s allusions to sex for sure, and there are fade to black scenes.

What I do want to talk about in this post isn’t specific sex with another person, but sex with oneself. I want to talk about masturbation. Honestly speaking, how many books have to read where there is a masturbation scene? I’ve read a lot of Nora Roberts’ books, and I can say that I don’t remember a single one that has a masturbation scene.

Masturbation is still seen as something dirty, something we do when no one is looking. Come on, people! People masturbate all the time. It’s better than going out and having sex with random strangers. So why isn’t it such a big thing in books? I don’t get it.

There’s this thing called the Merry Month of Masturbation, which I do believe happens in May. During this time, some authors strive to write one story a day that has a masturbation scene in it. I have to say, I’ve never participated mostly because me trying to write a story a day is ridiculous in and of itself, but the concept is very appealing to me.

Masturbation is not something to be frowned upon. It’s exploration of one’s self, of the character, and it really tells a lot about the character. It makes them comfortable in their own body. It makes them aware of their dislikes and likes. It lets them know how to get to that Big O as quickly or as slowly as they want.

Masturbation is about self-discovery. Which, if you think about it, is what every good romance novel is about. Coming from the Christian perspective, there is a huge taboo about masturbation. Sex is acceptable in terms of wanting to procreate (so since I write lesbians, I’m already screwed on that one unless there’s some weird alien thing going on). Masturbation is by all means not acceptable.

We are a Protestant society in the US. I’ve explained this once, but the things related to it in how we think and behave as a society are ridiculous We’re a Protestant society so we don’t like to talk about these things. We don’t like to think about them. We don’t want to teach our children that masturbation is a good thing, that sex feels good. We don’t even want to discuss it with them.

Wouldn’t it be better to talk to your kids about masturbation and keep them in that realm of sexual exploration than letting them try and figure it out with another person and having a whole world of emotional, physical and other things come into the equation? Just saying.

Anyway, masturbation is a taboo subject. I rarely read books where there is a masturbation scene. What’s even more interesting is that if there is a masturbation scene, it’s probably a man. I’ve read many many lesbian books, and I’m trying to recall one that has a masturbation scene in it and I simply can’t. It might be because it’s be awhile since I’ve read some, but that should be a point unto itself.

Masturbation is OKAY! It’s okay to touch yourself and to have your characters touch themselves! It’s an exploration and a lot of times it’s damn sexy to read about.

Broken Taboos: Religion #taboo #brokentaboo #religioninwriting

To continue the saga of what taboos I write, I’ve chosen religion as my next component. I don’t know how many of you have read my series, but if you have, then you know religion is an element in them. We’re always told growing up not to talk religion and politics. Well, I didn’t talk, I wrote. =P so there! ha!

Anyway, I write religion. In the James Matthews series it’s subtle. In the Spirit of Grace series…well it’s as obvious as the names of the books. In James, I handled it in an I don’t care but I want it in there kind of way. I wanted at least one of my characters to be Christian, and it turned out to be Addison Lee. She was the instigator, and James was the deflector.

James didn’t like that Addison wanted to pray before meals, especially at the work place. But Addison was her boss, so she sucked it up and did it. And then she missed it when [SPOILER]. It’s something I wanted in there to introduce the idea that oh my god, yes a lesbian can be a lesbian and Christian.

Time and time again I run into the push back in the LGBT et al community about Christianity. And you know what? I run into push back time and time in the Christian community about the LGBT et al community. It’s as if the two are warring and don’t want to even touch each other. Like really? We all live in the same country. We’re fucking neighbors, people! Get over it and be neighborly.

I get very tired of reading books that are so anti-Christianity or of seeing authors and readers post things on Facebook and in groups and on twitter and in blogs that are so anti-Christian simple because they write gay things. That’s not how it works. Yeah there are some out there on both ends of the spectrum, but I think rather both groups don’t want to start issues with the others. Mostly because if they did, they would both lose out.

Each group is just as important, and particularly in my life. Oh? I haven’t mentioned it? Then I shall mention it now. I’m an ordained minister. I went to four years of seminary to get my Master’s in Divinity. I have a Bachelor’s in Theology and Church History. Guess what–I’m also bisexual. I’m a bisexual Christian.

Perhaps that gives me an advantage, being bi. We break the binary in so many ways. It’s no longer about being one or the other. There’s a new element added in. BOTH or even better ALL! It’s how our lives go. We see it all, the good and the bad. We get shunned from the Christian community and we get shunned from the LGBT et al community.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to defend my sexuality to both Christians and those who claim they’re in the same club as me. Oh wait, that’s both groups! I cross the boundaries in ways no one would expect, and it really unnerves people. Being bisexual is an up yours to people who like lines. We don’t like lines. In fact, I’m not sure we have many of them at all.

Christianity isn’t the bad thing here. And the LGBT et al community isn’t the bad thing. It’s certain individuals in both groups who feel the need to expound hatred and lines when neither are necessary. BE NEIGHBORLY PEOPLE! Remember that. When you’re nervous because there’s a Christian or when you’re nervous because there’s a gay person. Be neighborly. That’s all we really have to do.

So yes, I talk religion in my books. I talk societal issues in my books. I get a lot of push back from it. If you’ve read For by Grace, you know there’s a kick ass character in there named Peter. I LOVE Peter. My publisher loves Peter. My beta readers LOVE Peter. Readers love Peter.

But there are some readers who hate Peter. He’s been called a religious nut job who just spews Scripture that makes no sense. I do implore you to actually look at the Scripture Peter is “spewing” because I did carefully pick it. By the way, it’s very hard to find a public domain Bible that doesn’t have the thees and the thous, but Peter so would not use them. Anyway, I’ve had a lot of push back on Peter, which is hilarious seeing as how the second main character and the love interest in the entire series is a chaplain. A CHAPLAIN! Someone who has power in the church.

I had thought I would get more push back for Amya than for Peter, but no, it’s come for Peter. No clue why. Peter is there for a reason. Aside from the plot points he needs to give to Grace and the fact that [SPOILER], he is someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions about faith and he’s just trying to figure it out. He’s trying to figure it out by asking Grace questions. Grace who is anti-Christianity not because she is a lesbian but because the church hurt her so bad she’s not sure she could believe in something so painful.

Spirit of Grace series was intended as a deeply spiritual piece, as a discussion on the LGBT et al community and the Christian community in a safe environment. The role of a Chaplain. Chaplains have this power and I’m not sure many realize it. They have the ability to come off as a counselor rather than a religious leader, and that makes them far more accessible. It also makes them freer in terms of the confines of the church. Amya explains that once.

Each of the titles of the books and the series name itself comes from Scripture. The first is from Ephesians 2:8. It was important to me to make it clear from the beginning that yes, there was going to be religion in this book and you better suck it up and deal with it because religion is something that needs to be discussed. It’s something we need to think about and deal with.

Religion itself has been around longer than almost any country. And this country, the United States of America, whether you want to believe it or think about it, was founded on Protestant beliefs. Beliefs that are fast becoming extinct in this world. There are more and more people each day who haven’t heard the story of Jesus, who don’t know who he was or what role he has in their history. I’m not saying that as a minister. I’m saying that as a citizen of the US. Whether or not you believe that Jesus Christ was born, died, was crucified and was raised, it doesn’t matter. His story has made an impact on where you are today. It’s history.

If we hadn’t wanted freedom of religion to believe what we wanted to believed, the United States would be a vastly different country. We wouldn’t be founded on that principle. We wouldn’t have been discovered and populated so quickly. We wouldn’t have the history we have with it’s religious wars and crimes against humanity.

It’s our history. It’s part of our current and present reality. Christianity is alive among us today, and yes, I’m going to talk about it. I hope to talk about it in a context that is safe and an environment that needs to think about why Christianity is so important. Not to believe, but because of the effects it has on us as people living in 2015.

Broken Taboos: being bisexual and writing lesbian fiction

I wrote this post on my Facebook wall a while ago and realized quickly it was 1. too long for a post on Facebook and 2. really needed to be expanded on. So here you are…my rant on why I write broken taboos and then a calmer discussion toward the bottom.


 

 

What? I write things that are taboo? Things people don’t talk about? What? No…. =P

Lesbians!
Religion and lesbians?
Tentacles and sex?
Twincest?
Again! Religion and lesbians? Because we all know you can’t be a Christian and a lesbian…ummm…what?

Sex used to be a taboo subject too. Erotica, things with eroticism. Now it’s just another book. It’s hard to find books without sex in them.

So YES!

There are religious elements in every book in the James Matthews series. There’s also no sex. There’s also other taboo subjects. Mental illness. Foster care.

There are definitely overpowering religious elements in every book in the Spirit of Grace series. I mean, come one, one is a Chaplain and then you have Peter. OMG I love Peter.

Yes there is tentacles and erotica in Loneliness Ebbs Deep. It was a fun exploration of how to write hentai in a consensual and sensual way. Not to mention an exploration of how masturbation is a GOOD thing.

Yes in Quarter Life: Energy Feed there is twincest. It just kinda happened and it worked. They’re not human, so who knows what rules or social parameters they have. Also they don’t actually touch each other. There are rules, and they follow those rules.

Yes in Quarter Life the rest of the series there are witches, vampires, bigfoot, and a whole slew of other creatures that used to be taboo. There’s bisexualism in a realistic manner that isn’t all about let’s have sex with whoever because we’re bisexual and can use it as an excuse.

In Memoir in the Making there is the taboo of an age difference, quite a big one, there is the taboo of student/teacher relations NOT just being about sex but actually being about love.

So…I guess what this rant is for, which I’ve been shunting down for awhile, is to say to you…if you don’t like reading taboo things and exploring them further, then I am not the author for you. If you do like exploring taboos in the safe environment of reading a book, then HELLOOOoooo! Welcome to my world!

***

There is a reason why I write taboos, things that are NOT talked about. It’s nothing I can particularly say I went in expecting to write when I started the whole publishing thing, but I do have to say I love it. It’s a challenge to me. Not only does it make me think of how can I pull something like this off without being disrespectful, with making it more acceptable in society, but to actually have a point and a reason behind it.

The first taboo I deal with is writing lesbian fiction. It’s not even just the fact that people don’t really talk about lesbians, it’s the fact that lesbian fiction is the taboo in the LGBT fiction world. Gay fiction is readily accepted. People read it all the time. Straight people even. Same with bisexual and menage/poly. It’s just readily accepted.

But I find that lesbian fiction isn’t really read much beyond the lesbian or bisexual female realm. It’s a much smaller audience, and surprisingly, not a lot of people are willing to take a risk and try it. It’s as if something about two women being together and being realistic isn’t attractive to them.

Not only to I write lesbian fiction, but I write lesbian fiction as a bisexual/omnisexual woman. There we go, another taboo right off the bat. I don’t know if you know this, but lesbian fiction is not readily accepted by lesbians unless you, the author, are a lesbian yourself. I do have an advantage and disadvantage here.

1. I’m a woman (don’t even get me started on men who write lesbian fiction and are put down because of it)
2. I’m bisexual/omnisexual (meaning I get what’s it’s like to love a woman even though I married a man)

Being a woman gives me an instant in. Some readers see that I’m a woman who writes lesbian fiction and automatically assume I’m a lesbian. Which is fine, it really doesn’t matter to me. A reader is a reader. But it’s people who flat out refuse to pick up my books because I write something they don’t think I have any understanding on. It’s interesting to me because I mostly write urban fantasy…like I understand what it’s like to be a pyrokinetic or telepathic or a witch or a vampire. I don’t. Those things don’t exist in the real world. So why is it acceptable for me to write those but to lesbians?

It’s not something I claim to understand, but it is a definite belief. It’s something I want to explore, something I want to understand. But I’m not sure I ever will. And the interesting thing is…I do with with bisexual books. There aren’t a lot out there, but the ones that are tend to be ploy/menage. It’s not something I see as a common form of bisexualism. It doesn’t mean I won’t read the books, but it does mean I don’t consider those books bisexual. It’s different. I find that people rarely want to write bisexual or other colors under the rainbow (lesbian and gay aside) unless they actually fall into that category themselves. It’s as if people are afraid to test and try out and expand their creativity.

And I don’t blame them. If you’re constantly being labeled as “not this so I won’t read” then why even try to write it? This is where being bisexual/omnisexual comes in handy. I have been in relationships with women. Hell, I almost married one. So I do have experience, and the label of bisexuality comes along with the assumption of experience. So there are some readers, who with that label, will pick up my books.

But the point of this whole long post is that I break the taboos. I’m not someone who follows a binary (ha! Bisexual and binary!? Not likely). I’m someone who likes to explore what we consider societal norms and try to figure out why the hell they’re there and if they really work.

So this post begins a new post series that will go on for I don’t know how long. I’ll talk about some of the taboos I write, and I’ll talk about how I break them, or rather, why I wanted to write them.

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