I Know Fear but Not Your Fear…

I opened Facebook, glanced around, and realized quickly I don’t have the energy to be there right now. I. Just. Don’t.

I closed the tab.

I haven’t been silent though. I’ve called my state representatives, even though I hate cold-calling people. I have to write up scripts in advance to get through such phone calls, and even then, my voice shakes. I’ve attended vigils and protests, even though I get panicky in crowds (and I think the abandoned baby stroller could possibly be hiding a bomb).

I recognize I am a person of privilege. As a cis-het white woman, I understand being discriminated against because of gender, but not because of the color of my skin, my religion, or my sexuality. I’ve had men suggest I wasn’t capable of doing my job because I didn’t have a Y chromosome, men who tried to talk me out of buying a stick shift because I didn’t want to be ‘thinking while I was driving’, and bosses who justified paying me less because I wasn’t the breadwinner of the family–despite the fact I am single and the sole representative of my household.

But no one has described me as an ape or suggested I wasn’t even human.

I’ve had inappropriate advances made on me by people in positions of authority over me. A tutor frightened me so badly I dropped the class. By the time the professor made a sexual advance on me, I’d perfected the art of inflicting pain and making it look accidental. I’ve also had a stalker–I know what it is like to be afraid for my safety–but that was one person. Yes, I am frightened by crowds. Yes, I am uncomfortable walking anywhere alone after dark–I don’t know many women who aren’t. But I don’t know what it is like to have people assume I’m a slut because of the color of my skin, or want to kill me because of who I’m sleeping with. I don’t have a whole class of people looking down on me as I walk along the street, with a single glance assessing my worth as a human being and assigning me to a category of ‘them, not us.’

I can sympathize with those who experience this sort of thing every day. I can tell myself I get it, but I really don’t. What I’ve gone through in my life isn’t even close. It’s like having arachnophobia and coming across a Daddy Longlegs in your house, imagining it’s a Black Widow. It might feel like I know what others are going through, but I don’t. Not really.

I don’t know what the average POC goes through on a daily basis. I don’t know what it is like to be a Muslim or Jew, or a member of the GLBTQ community, or anything other than what I am: a middle-aged white woman. I don’t know what it is like to watch my teenaged boy get into a car with friends and worry that he will be shot simply for being a black male. Or fear I will be attacked because I don’t look a certain way. On a given day, I might get eyestrain from rolling my eyes so hard at someone’s condescension toward me, but that’s usually the worst thing that happens.

I might be treated like ‘the little woman’ but I’m not treated as though I don’t have the right to live.

It’s not the same.

I am a person of privilege.

And as such, I don’t have the luxury of keeping my mouth shut right now. As long as things were inching their way toward better, it was easy for me to be a supporter.

It’s not so easy anymore. It’s downright scary. And the sad thing is, for the first time, I’m getting the tiniest inkling of what it’s always been like for the people I claim to support. Yeah, I could get hurt. Even killed. Something my friends live with all the time.

Things are coming to a crisis in this country. It’s not a matter of right versus left anymore. It’s a matter of right versus wrong. I can stand here and say I voted for Hillary and I believe in universal health care and a minimum wage that lets people afford a place to live. I can say I support marriage equality and sensible gun control and abortion rights and affordable birth control. I can rant about our current government and the death of democracy, voter suppression, gerrymandering, the Russian interference into our elections and the most corrupt administration the US has ever seen, but it’s not enough to believe these things. I have to voice them. Loudly.

I believe that standing up for what is right, saying no to the neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the consumption of the US by Russia is so important, I have to make my voice heard. It doesn’t matter if I’m scared. It doesn’t matter if I might lose readers. Hell, that’s the least of my worries. Frankly, if you don’t feel as I do on these matters, not only will you probably not enjoy my stories, I’d rather you not read them anyway.

Yeah, I know. I’m nobody. A no-name author in a niche genre. I’m sure there are people out there who’d rather I go back to chatting about the upcoming release or sharing pictures of my animals. Believe me, I long for the days when the most distressing thing I had to deal with was book edits and some silly brouhaha on Facebook. I feel as though I’ve been under siege for the last year or so.

So imagine what it’s like to have felt that way every day of your life?

I can’t.

I’m not a brave person, but this is too important. And I won’t shut up.

 

 

Being Broke Doesn’t Mean You’re Never Allowed to Have Fun

This may wind up being a rather disjointed and rambling commentary, rather than a neat little essay on what I find repulsive about the current attitude towards those who aren’t as well off as the 1%–which frankly, is most of us.

I’ve been in tight circumstances for a while now. I started a business right when the economy crashed, ran into some major health issues while self-employed and had crappy insurance, and have spent most of the last decade crawling out of the hole these situations put me in as a result. Things have gotten better lately, in part because I’m finally at a point where my backlist can help pay the mortgage but also because I just paid off the last of the medical bills.

But as these things go, the universe decided to play its little joke and hit me with several personal losses back to back to back. Between those losses, the current state of politics here in the US, and my fears for this country (and the world), it would be fair to say I’ve been struggling this past year. My creativity and my health have taken hits as a result.

Which brings me back to the point of this post. See, when you’re struggling to stay afloat, you tend to grab hold of anything that keeps your head above water. For me, that might be binge-watching old favorites on Netflix, or re-reading the comfort reads of my youth. Sometimes it’s planning a trip (though more often than not, I ended up having to cancel my trips this past year), or going to the bookstore, or buying pretty nail polish.

It turns out I’m not alone in that alone in that regard. A Reuters post indicated that in tough economic times, sales of nail polish went up because it was seen as an affordable indulgence–buying luxury at a bargain price, if you will. Apparently lipstick sales used to rise as well, presumably for similar reasons but also because for many women, their appearance factored largely into their success during a job interview. Even more interesting is that sales of women’s lingerie goes down with a poor economy, indicating a need to practice frugality in an area where one has some control over who will see your undies.

Lipstick sales no longer inversely reflect the economy, but nail polish does. It also is a relatively inexpensive way to lift my spirits. Not just a new shade, but the act of applying lacquer is very soothing to me. Much like drawing in a coloring book.

What all these images I’ve shared thus far have in common is that these are my own nails, painted by myself, all taken within couple of years. Something happened to my nails in the last year, however. I don’t know if it’s stress or an indication of health issues or my generally crappy diet, but I can’t seem to grow my nails out any longer–not past the quicks. They split and peel. They break with normal use. I used to grow long nails so easily, people would ask me what I did to make them grow. I used to have such strong nails, when someone asked me what could break them, I’d smirk and say “Kryptonite.”

All that changed within the last year. Sure, it’s a little thing compared to watching our civil rights erode before our very eyes, the concerns of climate change, the sheer incompetency and corruptness of our government, and oh yes, the possibility of nuclear war. Yeah, poor me. I no longer have pretty nails.

But it’s because of these other things that I feel the loss of my pretty nails more keenly. Painting them was a tiny indulgence that made my day a little bit brighter. So a few weeks ago, I decided to have my nails professionally done.

No, it wasn’t something I intended to have done all the time, but I have some weddings to attend in the not-to-distant future and I wanted to know if I could have nice nails for something like that. I fully expected to hate the process, but instead, I fell in love. Not only did I get my indestructible nails back again (with the industrial strength nail polish used, they don’t chip or break), I also got my pretty nails back again.

There’s not much about me I find pretty or attractive. Losing the one thing I was kind of proud of bugged me more than I realized. I was delighted by the results, and found myself looking at the budget and trying to figure out how often I could indulge. But shortly after I had my nails done, I started getting commentary on the unnecessary expense by various people around me.

Comments on whether the nails were appropriate to my job. How could I possibly do my job with those nails? Comments on how I could possibly afford to have my nails done.

Because suddenly, like the millionaire telling millennials to lay off avocado toast if they want to buy a house, or Jason Chaffez suggesting that if we didn’t buy an iPhone, we’d have the money we need to afford health insurance, everyone had an opinion on my nails.

Let’s set aside the infuriating irony of Chaffez lecturing the rest of us on saving our money to spend on health insurance–someone guaranteed coverage simply by being a member of Congress–I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy an iPhone every month for every year of my life. Because that’s how much my health insurance cost per month before Obamacare: the equivalent of an iPhone. Let’s set aside as well the fact that the last time I bought a house, it was for around $35 K. I sold it a few years later for $44 K. The same house now lists at $150 K–and as an individual with a single income, I couldn’t afford that kind of house payment. So yeah, perhaps millennials could save their pennies–but it still wouldn’t add up to what it takes to buy a house these days.

No, what really irks me is the notion that it isn’t enough that we are barely squeaking by at times, we must suffer for the indignity of being broke too. I know, it’s all relative. I know some people for whom tightening their belt means they will forgo the trip to Tuscany this year. For others, it means making soup out of popcorn because there is literally nothing else in the house to eat. But here’s the thing: if I choose not to have cable TV so that I can have my nails done, that’s my choice. Cable or nails: neither one comes close to a house payment. And if a house payment is completely out of the picture, then why begrudge me a small indulgence?

Especially if that indulgence helps me get by when things are really hard for me right now.

It’s high time we stopped being so judgemental. Be it about someone’s weight, or the books they read, or how they spend their hard-earned cash. Especially by people who want to make these judgements about morals when the truth of the matter is it’s very hard to lose weight when you’re dead broke. Cheez Doodles are cheap. Buying and cooking good food is expensive, both in terms of actual cost, but in time spent as well. It isn’t laziness that causes some people to collapse onto the sofa at the end of the day and not get up again until it’s time to go to bed–working two jobs kind of saps any energy for going jogging or making a week’s worth of meals in advance.

So I say this to you: if you’re hanging on by your fingernails, paint them. Buy that book or DVD you’ve been wanting. Take that special person in your life out to dinner. Wear the nice perfume. Just because you have to pinch and scrimp and save to pay the bills–sometimes to the point of having to decide which bills you’re going to pay and which you must delay–that doesn’t mean you can’t ever enjoy nice things. Maybe your budget is so tight you’re eating popcorn soup–but you can still check out books from the library or go to the free movie in the park. And if you do save up for something nice, something that makes you feel special or makes you smile, by God, don’t let anyone diminish your joy in it or try to make you feel bad about your little indulgence.

Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to have fun.

Being broke isn’t a moral failing. It’s bad enough to have to struggle to make ends meet. No one should demand we maintain a colorless existence without joy, merely because we fall into the wrong tax bracket.

This image was taken after I had my nails done professionally. Turned out rather nice, don’t you think?

 

Coming Soon to Audiobook: Fool’s Gold by Sarah Madison

Wow! I can’t believe the last time I posted to the website was back in March!

Looking back, I can see why. A lot of stuff is going on in my personal life right now–family crises, health issues, work stress… I’ve been keeping my head down low and trying to work on various projects but it’s been slow going.

The good news is that very soon I’ll be announcing the release of Fool’s Gold on Audible! This is my first audiobook ever and I am SO excited. I fell in love with Gary Furlong’s voice during the auditions for narrator and I’m sure you will too. With any luck, it will be released in August.

Fool’s Gold was voted best M/M Romance by the 2016 PGR’s Reviewers Choice Awards. The story is a love letter to my own sport, eventing, and I couldn’t be more pleased to share it with you in audio format. Stay tuned for more details on a release date!

In other good news, I’m working on the final installment of the Sixth Sense series, tentatively titled Deal with the Devil. I had intended to have it finished and submitted to Dreamspinner by March, but all those pesky life trauma things got in the way. It’s going slowly, but I am making forward progress, and hope to have it available for release sometime in 2018.

I’ve also been teaching myself to make promotional graphics and how to put together a newsletter. If you want to keep up with the latest from me (and I promise, it probably won’t be more often than once a quarter–no spammy newsletters from me!), then sign up for my newsletter here.

I look forward to being able to share with you an exact release date on the Fool’s Gold audiobook! Until then, I’ll keep writing.

Unspeakable Words: On Sale At Dreamspinner Press!

I’ve been so pleased with the relaunch of Unspeakable Words! It’s been getting some fabulous reviews, and is on Dreamspinner’s bestseller list. Best of all, right now it’s on sale! I’m not sure for how much longer, so be sure to grab a copy of this expanded version at a great price!

Here are some great reviews from LoveBytes, Sinfully Gay Book Romance Book Reviews, Joyfully Jay, GayBook Reviews, Diverse Reader, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, and Rainbow Book Reviews, just to name a few! (I feel like someone thanking people at the Academy Awards–I’m bound to leave someone out!)

I have a lot a blog posts out with this book tour, including interviews at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and Open Skye Book Reviews. I’ve also begun sharing about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy, part of my research for the Sixth Sense series. Do drop by Authors Speak at Rainbow’s Gate for more about Writer’s Police Academy, but also fantastic giveaways, and the latest on upcoming releases by some of your favorite authors! My April post will be about crime scene investigations and blood spatter, so come check it out. 🙂

It’s Here! Release Day for Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison

Wow! It’s finally here! I am so excited to be able to share this with you–the brand new relaunch of Unspeakable Words and the Sixth Sense series! To start things off, I have a post explaining my decision to relaunch the series over at MM Goodbook Reviews, and I am chatting about when characters misbehave at GayBook Reviews. Tomorrow I’ll be over at Bayou Book Junkies, so do come and make the rounds with me!

There have been some excellent reviews already, including this delightful one from Debra at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews!

I’m off this weekend to a much needed retreat in the mountains: just me, the BF, the dogs, and a snow-dusted cabin. No internet, but a roaring fire in the hearth. I’ll be posting the first in a series about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy (part of the research I did for this series) at Authors Speak at Rainbow’s Gate on March 12th, internet permitting. And there will be more in the Unspeakable Words relaunch tour, so stay tuned!

You can find the brand new Unspeakable Words at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, as well as some of your other favorite outlets. Find out more about the next installment in the series as well!

Unspeakable Words and all my titles on sale at Dreamspinner Press!

Woot! I just saw that all my Dreamspinner titles are on sale until March 5th in honor of the annual conference held by the press! That means you can grab not only any of my Dreamspinner titles for 25% off until March 5th, but you can also pre-order the expanded version of Unspeakable Words at the sale price as well!

I’m so excited to share with you the soon-to-be-released version of Unspeakable Words! Isn’t this cover fantastic? That smirky face and raised eyebrow is SO Flynn, it’s as though LC Chase read my mind when redesigning the covers for the Sixth Sense series!

There will be a book tour starting soon, so stay tuned!

Love is in the Air: Valentine’s Day Sale at Dreamspinner Press!

I don’t know about you, but I hated Valentine’s Day growing up.

I hated all the emphasis on being ‘chosen’ to be someone’s Valentine, and how the whole day was an exercise in humiliation for a introverted, homely child.

As a young adult, it felt like a comment on my attractiveness and desirability that I didn’t have someone special in my life to take me out to dinner or bring me flowers. And yet I still wanted those things very much. I wanted that tangible proof that not only was I loved, I was deemed worthy of love.

The first couple of times I was in a relationship as Valentine’s Day rolled around, I went all out: the romantic dinner, the fancy restaurant, the expensive (and sexy) dress. Chocolates, wine, flowers, and cards. The whole nine yards.

Now after having been in a committed relationship for nearly a decade, I can appreciate it not the day that matters, or the meal, or the bling. It’s the person who is sitting across the table from you. It’s the person holding your hand, or the friends taking you out for Galentine’s Day, or the cat in your lap and the dog at your feet. I love that people are taking what has always been for me a problematic celebration of ‘love’ and making it their own–redefining it for their needs.

 

 

 

As part of that celebration, Dreamspinner Press is having a store-wide sale: 25% off all titles until Feb 18th, and a flash sale of new releases today only! That means you can pre-order the newly revised version of Unspeakable Words at the sale price (release date March 10, 2017)–or perhaps you’d like a story of love, loss, and re-connection with The Boys of Summer.  Or maybe werewolves and vampires are your thing–in which case, check out the award-winning Crying for the Moon! Plenty to choose from, and not just my titles. Entering the DSP store is like opening the Potter family vault at Gringott’s. 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Cover Reveal & Giveaway for the new Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison

Oh guys!

I have been on pins and needles with excitement over the cover reveal and pre-order links for the newly expanded version of Unspeakable Words! in fact, the entire Sixth Sense series got a makeover to celebrate the relaunch of book one, so there will be more covers to share in the future and I can’t wait to share them with you! Release date for the new edition of Unspeakable Words is March 10, 2017.

Today I’m at MM Goodbook Reviews with an exclusive cover reveal and a giveaway–as well as an explanation for the decision to expand the original story. Do drop by to check out the awesome cover by L.C. Chase and leave a comment to enter the giveaway!

Also, voting is still open in the 2016 Paranormal  Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards! Fool’s Gold is up for Best MM Romance, but I’m telling you, the competition is fierce. Check out the nominees and vote for your favorites!

I’m not going to post the cover here–you have to check it out at MM Goodbook Reviews–but stay tuned for additional cover releases soon!

Three Hearts Cover Reveal and Buy Links with Grace Duncan

three-hearts_450X674

Three Hearts
By Grace R. Duncan
Cover by Jess Small
72k words
M/M Paranormal/shifters

Pre-order available 2/3/2017

Release date: 3/3/2017

The preorder link for Three Hearts is: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MYFCBSE
Print version on Createspace:  https://www.createspace.com/6894067

 

Liam Scott is sick. That’s not supposed to be possible. As a wolf shifter, he’s supposed to be able to heal. The omega gene he was born with means he’s capable of carrying shifter young and Liam is worried that whatever is wrong will mean his one-day hope of having pups will be dashed. But despite the fears keeping him away from the doctor until now, he knows he needs to go.

It turns out the sickness is temporary, but the treatment causes a whole other problem.

Mason’s alpha gene means he’s one of very few wolves who can impregnate an omega male. For two years, he’d been watching Liam, but things kept getting in the way. When Liam shows up in heat, Mason recognizes the opportunity he needs and doesn’t hesitate make to Liam his mate and the father of his pups.

But Liam has old wounds and fears to work through which the pregnancy is only making worse, and Mason isn’t sure how to get past them to show he’s serious about making a life together as loving mates. It’s not until a female wolf decides Mason should be hers that Liam makes his biggest worry known—and Mason can finally put the fears to rest.

 

Excerpt:

Liam

With a sigh, I rolled over and peered at the clock. Even if I were to drag my tired ass out of bed right then, I’d never make it to work on time. But my boss, Jack, would be there, so I grabbed my phone from the bedside table and lay back. I pulled up my contacts and hit the button when I found my boss’s number. It barely rang twice before he picked it up.

“Yo, Liam!”

I couldn’t resist a chuckle at the greeting. “Hey, uh… I can’t come in today. I know I’ve called off a lot the last couple of months but—”

“Tell me it’s because you’re finally going to the doctor,” Jack said, hope clear in his voice. Jack wasn’t just my boss—he was also probably my closest friend. Yeah, working with friends was never a good idea. Except, for Jack and I, it worked. I never wanted upper management. I was happy where I was, doing what I did. So I was equally happy when Jack got promoted where he wanted to be.

“Yeah,” I said, letting out a breath. “I’m going to call when they open in a few minutes.”

“It’s about fucking time,” Jack grumbled. “I’ve been worried about you.”

“Yeah, I know, I know. Look, depending on what they say, I’ll probably be in tomorrow.”

“Take a couple of days. Make sure whatever they do works. I’d rather you get rest and get over this so you can come back 100 percent.”

Jack was right. I didn’t have to like it, but he was. “I’ll still check my e-mail and stuff,” I said. Right didn’t mean I wanted to. Work had piled up over these two months, and I was so far behind, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever catch up. “Shit,” I groaned. “Budgets are due. Mason’s going to kill me if I don’t turn them in this week.”

“I’ll tell Mason to take a flying leap off the Sears Tower, dude. He’ll have to wait.”

“Jack! He’s our CFO. You don’t tell the CFO to take a flying

leap and keep your job.”

Jack’s noncommittal sound did not encourage me.

“Look…,” I said, running a hand through my hair. “I’ll come by on the way home from the doc’s and pick up the budget paperwork, okay? I’ll do it here, in bits, when I can.”

Jack paused for a long moment, then finally said, “I’ll send them by messenger. Text me when you know when you’re going to the doc’s. I’ll send the budget stuff over after that.”

He could be a real pain in the ass sometimes. Especially when he was right.

“Fine,” I grumbled ungraciously. Whatever this was had taken up enough of my time and energy already.

“Good. Text me when you get the appointment. And get some sleep!”

It took me a few seconds to realize Jack had hung up. I shook my head and set my phone down.

I hadn’t told Jack my fears about cancer. He’d tell me I was overworrying. He’d tell me it wouldn’t be me, partially because he’d want to reassure me, and partially because he wouldn’t want to believe it himself.

So I kept them to myself.

Before I could talk myself out of it again, I picked my phone back up. With a deep breath, I dialed the doctor’s number.

About Grace

grace_nohateGrace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

 

Find Grace here:

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Paranormal Sale at Dreamspinner Press: 30% off!

dreamspinner-magicintheair-websitebannerOh! Oh! Today until Feb 6, Dreamspinner Press is having a 30% off sale on all its paranormal romances!

That’s almost every title I have with them! Run check it out–this sale is smoking’ hot!

Here’s the link to my titles on Dreamspinner Press. But if you’re looking for Unspeakable Words and you can’t find it, that’s because the expanded version is scheduled to be released March 10th! Sorry, no pre-order link available yet… but I’ll be posting soon with the new covers for the Sixth Sense series as soon as I get a buy link for Unspeakable Words.

Book 4 in the Sixth Sense Series (tentatively titled Deal with the Devil) is underway. I’m sorry to say that I’ve been finding it challenging to write due to the current political turmoil in the US, but I hope to have the story finished and available to you in early 2018.