Sunday Small Talk

I usually use this space to talk about my writing but this was the first week of class so other than doing the third round of edits of Purrfect Holiday my upcoming Christmas short story (and looking over some covers for it) and gathering together some info for my cover release for Blood Red Roulette (in theory tomorrow), I’ve been consumed with class stuff and getting my internet restored.

It was a strange confluence of things that pose the question ‘what is a healthy relationship?’ It was one of the topics in the Queer Sci Fi comm on Facebook and I finished reading a book in a well-loved Urban Fantasy series (het) that had a romantic subplot that I feel compelled to talk about because of how unhealthy I perceived it to be.

I stand by what I said in the comm, I can’t imagine that healthy is going to change radically regardless of orientation (or maybe that’s easy for me to say being cis-gendered and hetereonormative). But seriously, is there anyone out there who doesn’t want a relationship built on love, respect, an equal give and take willingness to compromise? To me that’s what healthy looks like regardless of the people involved in the relationship.

So why then do so many romances (gay or straight) have super unhealthy relationships being held up as desirable? Het romances were really bad about that way back when and have gotten at least a bit better over the years, but I had friends who had manuscripts rejected because their male lead was ‘too nice.’ So being a nice guy was literally unwanted, something no one would want to have as their love interest.

Blink, blink. I don’t get it.

Lately I’ve seen the very unhealthy (and unequal, with one partner calling all the shots and the other living in his shadow) a lot especially in shifter fiction (because apparently all alpha males are complete dickholes and a lot of people have spent little time looking at real wolf packs) and worse, in YA fiction.

So, the book I finished the day this topic posted in the comm was a shifter UF with a strong romantic subplot where she had to decide between the kind doctor werewolf who didn’t want to be alpha, so he could care for people and the actual alpha of the pack (who works in security). This alpha (as Doc Wolf reminds her) would literally (not figuratively, he was very clear on this) kill a young man she was talking to because he might be a romantic rival. He punches out walls. He declared her his mate without asking and installed security all around her place also without asking (though that I can at least live with).

Naturally she rejects the Doc Wolf because he was ‘hold her back, make her stay in one place,’ and goes with the shouting, abusive, nasty alpha because she loves when he works himself into rages. It’s hot. It turns her on that he’s so explosively violent, forgetting for a moment that he tells her no matter where she runs he will bring her back. Let that sink in.

She doesn’t want the nicer wolf because he’ll ‘tie her down’ and goes with the one who promises to drag her back kicking and screaming if he has to because he ‘loves her so much.’

My skin crawled. My stomach twisted. Then I read this subplot WON a major award for romance. I went from sick to enraged.

Maybe it’s my experiences with men like this in my family. Maybe it’s my years of working as a doctor in battered women shelters. Maybe it’s because I have a serious addiction to ID Discovery Channel’s many true crime stories, but this is NOT romantic. This may be love but it is not a healthy love. I’ve seen this scenario play out again and again on those true crime stories either by the friends of the person involved weeping that s/he didn’t deserve to die like that (because I’ve seen it both ways, women being killed by their husband, husbands by wives and ditto with queer relationships be it lesbian or gay) or I see the person talking about how they did love the abuser (but they didn’t know why) and how lucky they are to be alive (often bearing terrible scars from the things that were done to them in the name of ‘love.’)

This sort of relationship where one partner is controlling will never be romantic or healthy to me. Jealousy is not an indicator of how much your partner loves you. To me, it’s an indicator to get the hell out of the relationship while you still can.

I guess I just don’t understand why we keep promoting such unhealthy romance, why we give it awards, why we showcase it for young teens just learning about love.

I’m not sure what I’m not getting about this. I suppose all I can do is write romances my way which will not have any of this in it. And that is what I will do.

Rainbow Snippets

So after two weeks I finally have internet again. Sorry for not getting to comment. It was super fun having no internet both good and bad fun, really. Good fun – no distractions from writing. Bad fun -I’m teaching an online class for the first time ever and I was asked to do so last minute so NOTHING is set up. Whee.

I’m picking right back up where I left off with These Haunted Hills with Josh and Brendan looking at what evidence of the paranormal they caught at the hotel. (a little longer than 6 because I’m being too lazy to pick the 6 best sentences from this scene)

“Sometimes things are more noticeable in the dark. There’s a theory that ghosts drain energy to manifest themselves and otherwise interact with this world. They like to drain batteries for instance so if we’re there at night we can see flashlights dim. Hell, a lot of the times we ask them to turn the flashlights off and on. It works. The TV shows also do it because it adds to the scary ambiance.”

Brendan snorted. “And when we go with Cassia, it’ll be at night, right?”

“Oh yeah. Cass is an endocrinology resident right now so her free time is at a premium. She’d definitely go without sleep to spend the night with you.” Josh meant that last statement anyway it could be taken. He didn’t miss the slight flush to Brendan’s cheeks. A hint of disappointment wormed into his heart. Did Brendan like the idea of being with a woman he hadn’t even more than he might like it if Josh had said the same thing about himself? No, he was being idiotic. Brendan surely was embarrassed by the double entendre.

“I’ll keep that in mind.

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

Sunday Small Talk

Since I still have no internet and all I’ve done all week is work the science camp and get ready for classes which start tomorrow (WTF?), I’ve not really been writing. However I wanted to pass along this week’s collection of links so here you go.

I probably have things to say but since I’m sitting at my office desk on a Sunday afternoon I’m just going to post my links and be done with it. Hope you enjoy.

From my friend – Lessons From the Hyped Writing of Dawn of Wonder Like many Mythcreant posts, there’s a certain meanness to it but it does have good points.

Finding My Voice—So Easy. So Hard.

Why Writing Can Be The Best Way To Deal With Adversity I agree, this is part of the reason we write!

How to Write Attention-Grabbing Promo Copy for Books [Book Marketing 101]

7 Mistakes That Make Every Writer Look Unprofessional

How to Intertwine Plot, Character, and Theme in Every Scene

Has Cloud Atlas Author David Mitchell Given Us The Greatest Writing Tip Of Our Time?

And from around the web

“In Search of Doors”: Read V.E. Schwab’s 2018 J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature This is more geared to fans in general and its pretty thought provoking

Holiday Book Sales, Steps 10-12: This Year and Beyond

Opinion: What Makes Readers Buy Books?

New Release – Super for You, Bad for Me


Super for You, Bad for Me
Asta Idonea
Dreamspinner Press
14 August 2018
60k/200 pages

* And my apologies for not cleaning up the links from the raw URls but I haven’t had internet access in 2 weeks and I have to use my limited time online as best I can. Ran out of time for making it pretty * – Jana

Struggling actor Oswell Outterridge thinks he’s hit the jackpot when he’s chosen to play a scene opposite his idol, Kane Teague, in a superhero movie. However, things take an unexpected turn when the slime he accidentally ingests gives him telekinetic powers. Then Kane asks him out, against all expectation, and it seems that life couldn’t get any better—aside from the little matter of keeping his identity secret from his celebrity boyfriend. Oswell goes from a nobody with little social life and few prospects for the future to dating the man of his dreams and using his superhuman abilities to defend innocents. Everything is perfect, and it seems he’s finally achieved a happily ever after worthy of the silver screen. But when a supervillain arrives, determined to defeat Oswell and win Kane’s affections, everything falls apart. In the ensuing conflict, Kane gets caught in the crossfire, and Oswell faces his toughest fight yet. Can he remain the hero he’s always imagined himself, or will a dark desire for vengeance change him forever?


SoundCloud Excerpt:
YouTube Excerpt:

Dreamspinner Press:

Author Bio & Links
Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J. Markus) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!

As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.


Sunday Small Talk

I planned to use the drive to Ohio to work out the end game for my solar punk story but it refused to cooperate. It rather natter on about nonsense. Then I get home to find out my internet is out because some yahoo cut the wires outside the apartment. AGAIN. This time I’m going to go paint them day-glo orange or tie flag to them or something.

I was thinking about synchronicity and inspiration on the drive though. Someone from my writer’s group had a one off line in her urban fantasy about elf blood being poisonous to vampires but in small doses acted like a great drug. I thought that could be fun to run with. Then I got into one of Kim Fielding’s books and elf blood is delightful to vampires. Ah well. It’s still a really cool idea though. It’s all in what you do with it, I suppose. You could have that as an anthology theme and still have a dozen complete different takes on the idea.

Writing wise, I haven’t done much. It’s the start of the semester and that comes with a week-early start for me with the all new science camp for which I have to come up with all the biomedical scenarios. I have been thinking though about how much I appreciate publishers who use auto-reply for their submission email to let an author know their story arrived. I mean it’s easy peasy to do with most emails. I wish the last one I sent a short story to had one because I’ve heard nothing and my paranoid mine is like ‘did they get it it? I bet they didn’t get it.’ Ah brain, shut it.

From my friend: Podcast
182 – Literary Devices

How Do I Avoid Endorsing My Protagonist’s Actions? i.e don’t be preachy

Four Challenges of Nonlinear Narratives Maybe I need to look a this one to figure out WTF is wrong with Splinters’ opening chapter.

The Right Agent for a Debut Author

masterpost for writers creating their own worlds, or even just characters

And from around the web

10 Tips To Focus On Writing

Seven research tips for informed writing

The Pros and Cons of Getting Published

Take Up Some Room, and Other Public Speaking Tips for Women Writersl

“Write a Sentence as Clean as a Bone” And Other Advice from James Baldwin

Entitlement issues… This is by Neil Gaiman (and is directed more to readers/fans)

The Midwife as Story Teller

The 10 Beliefs That Drive a Passionately Authentic Life

How An Editing App Can Increase Writing Productivity

Unknown Unknowns in Writing

10 Tips For Creating Your First Children’s Picture Book