Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Media Diet

My thanks to Golda Poretsky for this awesome sign.
You should totally visit her rockin' site.
I don’t usually traffic with that “diet” thingy. Weight loss dieting has a 95% failure rate (Chastain, 2011), often results in a net weight gain (HuffPo, 2013), and valorizes self-imposed starvation, a disgusting concept that couldn’t exist anywhere but an industrialized nation. However, for the past decade or more, I’ve put myself on a pretty strict media diet. My recipe? No TV aside from the occasional series I snag via Netflix, maybe one movie per year, no non-political magazines, and aggressive ad blocking on the Internet. That said, I’m an Internet fiend, and I listen every day to NPR in part because it has no commercials but also because, you know, listening to the news while driving kinda rocks.

I say “diet” because it’s a concept with which we’re all-too-familiar in the U.S. However, my diet isn’t about deprivation but release. Honestly, you have no idea how relieved I felt when I gave myself permission several years ago to disengage from popular culture. Prior to that, I’d had this bizarre conviction that I should stay on top of pop culture so I could use examples in my classes and relate to my students’ experiences. Now, I tell them why I happily abstain and let my students provide the media examples. Everything works out just fine.

So why do I limit my media intake? First of all, I have lots of stats and studies, ones that say, for example, “Research has repeatedly shown that constant exposure to thin models fosters body image concerns and disordered eating in many females” (Serdar, n.d.; for more info, see Turner, et al, 1997). Another good quote:

Sixty-three percent of girls think the body image represented by the fashion industry is unrealistic and 47 percent think it is unhealthy, yet 60 percent say that they compare their bodies to fashion models, 48 percent wish they were as skinny as the models in fashion magazines, and 31 percent of girls admit to starving themselves or refusing to eat as a strategy to lose weight (NYC Girls’ Project, 2013).

Also, media are incredibly violent; according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by the time they’re eighteen, children will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on TV alone (NCCEV, 2003). While it’s ridiculous to think we’re programmable media zombies who mindlessly reproduce media representations, violent media contribute heavily to our culture of violence. And yes, while gun-related violence and rape rates have been declining, the U.S. is still a very violent place (ChildHelp, 2013; Pew, 2013; RAINN, 2009). Studies show people who consume violent media choose more violent words in post-test situations and report feeling more violent emotions (Shrum, 2002). In a couple more examples, greater exposure to media increases viewers’ fear of crime (Dowler, 2003), while exposure to graphic representations of sex decreases their satisfaction with their own sex lives and increases their likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior (CommGAP, n.d.).

Not all media messages have negative effects, and I’m the first to admit some good can come from media, particularly when they expose rural and homogenous communities to diverse peoples and situations. And also, Sesame Street. That sh*t just rocks. Nonetheless, I just feel crappy when I ingest media in substantial doses.

I know the stats and studies, but most important to me is how media make me feel. I turn on the TV or watch a movie, and I’m immediately reminded that no one on the screen looks like me. I’m reminded a woman’s attainment of arbitrary beauty ideals is more important than her family, educational accomplishments, or community involvement. I’m reminded that older people, even though they’re 13.3% of the American population (AoA, 2012), only exist onscreen if they look much younger, while people with disabilities, who compose 20% of the American population (CDC, 2011), remain virtually absent in media. Mainstream media still under-represent non-Whites; those people of color who do make it to the screen or the magazine page too often find themselves portrayed stereotypically (Keegan, 2013). Finally, although we’re 51% of the American population, women are still under-represented as media characters, featured persons in the news, and in media production (Schilling, 2013;, 2013). I feel all these absences every time I engage with media. They hurt.

So I continue to feed my curiosity about the greater world via books, radio, and the Internet. It’s not perfect, especially since my musical fare tends toward insipid, misogynistic, and/or heterosexist-to-outright homophobic mainstream pop. And, yeah, I may be a romance writer, but the genre is currently giving me some pretty severe heartburn.

What would make me happy? Television, movies, radio songs, magazines, and books that feature realistic characters, characters that look like my loved ones and me. Media that emphasize character development rather than physical and sexual violence. And, you know, media representations that acknowledge that, while the limelights may glisten beautifully on the foreheads of young, straight, able-bodied, so-called "attractive," and/or White guys, other groups do actually exist.

For those who feel excluded or angry about mainstream media, I hope my books help create a culture that features more expansive and realistic representations. Goodness knows I’m trying. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: The Freedman and the Pharaoh's Staff by Lane Heymont

The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff
by Lane Heymont

A KKK Grand Dragon, a pit bull, and Hitler walk into a bar… Sounds like the beginning of the world’s most bizarre joke, right? Yet you may be surprised and fascinated to know this book contains all those elements and more. Well, minus the bar.

The plot: It’s 1871, six years after the end of the American Civil War and five or so years before Jim Crow Laws spread like rot throughout the U.S. Freedman Jeb breaks out of jail his brother-in-law, Crispus, who has stolen a map to a buried Egyptian treasure that will give its possessor the power to unite or annihilate the masses. The breakout ignites the KKK’s anger, and they destroy Jeb and Crispus’ small Louisiana hometown in retaliation. Jeb and Crispus, who are soon joined by a Jewish defector from the local KKK mob, seek assistance from voodoo priests, the sheriff, and others as they flee for their lives and eventually seize the Pharaoh’s Staff. The rabid, local KKK den, led by a truly spooky and supernatural Grand Dragon named Verdiss, pursues them from Louisiana to New York, wreaking death and mayhem along the way. Chillingly, Verdiss is in league with none other than Hitler (from the 1940s; hence, the time travel), since both seek the staff in order to harness its power to eliminate their particular hated races. Of course, the alliance breaks down and Hitler sends an assassin to murder Verdiss and claim the staff. Oh, and did I mention Verdiss is an evil practitioner of Louisiana voodoo? You wouldn’t think a freedman, his dandied brother-in-law, and a teenaged Jew would have a chance against the KKK, evil majik, and the Nazis; however, aided by some voodoo charms, their strength and tenacity, and their desire to redeem themselves and save their races, they hold their own surprisingly well.

I offered to read and review this book because it contains some of my favorite topics: magic, time travel, social justice, and subaltern histories (AKA: history through the lenses of the disempowered). Score. For example, the most radical and interesting thing this author does is compare the plight of African American ex-slaves in the 1870s to Jews during the Holocaust. The central theme in the book involves the personal and cultural madness of genocide. The Grand Dragon Verdiss, who does actually look somewhat like a dragon, stands in for the racist elements of the Reconstruction Era as well as the Anti-Semitism and White supremacy of Hitler. The two are actually quite alike: Verdiss is a member of the race he despises (he is part Black as Hitler is (likely erroneously) rumored to be part Jewish); both are vegetarians; both are smart and eloquent; both dream of eliminating an entire race of people; and they both lead a group of racists on their mission to establish a new world order. African Americans and American Jews share a history of activism and camaraderie that has unfortunately become strained in the last few decades. This novel reminded me of that shared past, when both groups experienced overt, legalized persecution and worked together toward greater civil liberties.

This is why, of course, Jeb, Crispus, and their Jewish friend, Fallon, struggle to prevent the racists from possessing and using the Pharaoh’s Staff. Okay, Fallon’s presence is a bit of a stretch, since Jews weren’t really considered White until well into the 20th century and Fallon defects from the KKK, that bastion of White supremacy; however, this tiny stretch is understandable, since the story concerns two ethnic groups* and the author needs us to identify with both.

Oh, and kudos to the author for writing a book about Reconstruction Era racists that never once uses the n-word. Realistic? Maybe not, but I, for one, appreciate not having my eyes and brain assaulted by such a hateful term.

Politics aside, what usually makes a story is compelling characters. This novel has them. As the three main characters flee from place to place, trying to keep the staff from Verdiss and Hitler, they work through their troubled pasts, seeking redemption and, not coincidentally, integration of their fragmented senses of self. In a novel containing time travel, it’s appropriate that the main characters wrestle as much with their troubled pasts as they do with the dire circumstances in the present (and future!).

But let’s be honest here. Sure, the human characters make for some good reading. It must be said, though, that the real best character is Darkness, a pit bull. Any book featuring a pit bull wins my instant attention and affection. Okay, maybe his owner uses him for nefarious purposes, but that’s certainly not the sweet doggy’s fault. 

Oh, and in case any of you are worried, Darkness never dies in the book. I shall remain mum as to the fates of any other characters.

* Considered ethnic groups in the U.S., anyway, although Americans Jews are really an ethnoreligious group.


Okay, so here’s the nitty gritty. After perusing this review and Lane Heymont’s wares below, please feel free to comment. Lane Heymont will be awarding a coffee mug with a quote from the book (US/Canada only) to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop, plus a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. If there’s anything better than books, it’s winning loot for learning more about them, amiright?

If you really want to increase your chances of scoring some Amazon love, feel free to follow this virtual book tour. You can find the schedule here. The more you comment, the greater your chances of winning. Good luck, all! 


The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff
by Lane Heymont



Jeb, a former slave, rescues his brother-in-law Crispus from the Ku Klux Klan, only to be drawn into a world of Creole Voodoo, racism, time travel, and redemption.

Verdiss, the leader of the Ku Klux Klan has gained possession of the Pharaoh's Staff, a magical artifact from ancient Egypt and concocted a diabolical plan far more insidious than himself.

In the end, Jeb and Crispus must stop an entire people from eradication and each find redemption for their own past sins.



Verdiss ran his fingers over the cauldron’s lips, still amazed at what he’d discovered there. He’d been studying the Oera Linda Book, a Frisian manuscript discussing the mythologies, histories, and religions of long lost civilizations. The most prominent was Thule, a land ruled by a blond, blue-eyed race far superior to mankind. Scholars placed it near Norway. The Geist Führer’s voice had called Verdiss to the grove of grim, leaning trees. He spoke of leading the world back to the glorious age when Thule dominated the world. The Geist Führer promised Verdiss those of tainted blood would be eradicated. There’d be peace among the worthy.

“Geist Führer.” Verdiss waved his bulbous hands over the boiling water, pulling the magic from his very will. He hated performing these accursed rites, but they were a necessity. “I seek your counsel.” The wind picked up, his robes rustling. An unnatural wind. Power tingled in the air. The charge grew hotter as Verdiss came closer to contact.

“Dear Verdiss…” came the unholy voice, seething from within the cauldron.



Lane earned a BA in Liberal Arts with a focus on literature and history. He also holds a double minor in psychology and business. He is a literary assistant with The Seymour Agency, and also has several short stories. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Historical Novel Society, and International Thriller Writers.


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Twitter: @LaneHeymont ( )

Facebook: www.Facebook/Lheymont



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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Virtual Book Tour: One Bite by Jennifer Blackstream

I'm thrilled to feature One Bite by Jennifer Blackstream. Traditional fairy tale meets paranormal romance? Sign me up!

Please show Jennifer Blackstream some love, all. Not only does her work sound incredible, but you can benefit from your perusal and comments. Jennifer will be awarding one eCopy of Before Midnight (book one in the series) to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop and a grand prize of a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

And hey, the more you follow her and comment, the better your chances of scoring loot. Woot! For more info on the tour, visit here. For info on Ms. Blackstream's website and her wares, see the end of this post. Good luck! 


One Bite
by Jennifer Blackstream



Seven dwarves. A poison apple. A glass coffin. It's a strange and terrifying world when events can take a turn for better or for worse with just...One Bite.

Irina is determined to continue her fight for freedom. Freedom for her from her evil sorceress stepmother, and freedom for every faction in the kingdom of Dacia. Unfortunately, her stepmother isn’t about to let that happen and she’s got a poisoned apple and a glass coffin with Irina’s name on them…

Kirill is a vampire prince determined to be a vampire king. Unfortunately, his vampiric father has no intentions of vacating the throne anytime soon and the prophecy Kirill found hinting at a “Great New Kingdom” is proving tricky to translate. It doesn’t help that the beautiful woman he found unconscious in the woods seems determined to undermine his authority at every turn. He’d kill her himself if she didn’t have the strangest gift for soothing his bloodthirsty spirit.

Even an undead mastermind can’t foresee everything. Seven dwarves. A poison apple. A glass coffin. It’s a strange and terrifying world when events can take a turn for the better or worse with just…One Bite.



Ever so slowly, Kirill raised a hand to Irina’s chin, tilting her head so that he could better stare down into her eyes. A little press of power, a minor flexing of his vampiric muscles, and she would soften toward him. He would hypnotize her, just enough so he could feed and she wouldn’t remember. The connection would make it easier for him to affect her later if necessary.
Irina tilted her face up at the last second and pressed her lips to his. Kirill froze, momentarily shocked into inaction by her initiative. Her eyes drifted closed and her lips caressed his own, an achingly seductive sensation that drew an appreciative sound from his throat. She tasted like the winter air, fresh and crisp, with just a hint of bite. He parted his lips for her, encouraging her to deepen the kiss. Her tongue slid past his lips and he pressed forward, eager for the inevitable moment when she learned the risk of kissing a vampire with his fangs extended…
A sharp pain pricked the inside of his thigh. Kirill froze. Irina pulled back just enough to speak, her lips still close enough to brush Kirill’s with every syllable.
“Biting me would be a mistake,” she said softly. “I’ve come here with nothing but the best of intentions. It would be awfully ungentlemanly of you to take advantage of me.”
Kirill almost laughed. He raised a hand to run over Irina’s hip, up her back, until he cupped her neck. “I could kill you with very little effort,” he whispered, lightly pressing his fingers against her neck. Despite the threat of his words, Kirill couldn’t resist leaning forward slightly, letting his lips brush hers in a chaste kiss even as they stood in their stalemate. He couldn’t deny that part of him was excited in a way he rarely was. Irina was bold, almost to the point of foolishness, but her spirit added a spice to their encounter that Kirill appreciated on an instinctual level. Now that he’d tasted her, he found he wanted a little more. How sweet would her blood be? How delightfully wild…
“I have a dagger ready to sever your manhood,” Irina replied softly. Her voice only wavered slightly and Kirill’s respect for her ratcheted up a notch. She pulled her face back, seeming to gather herself. He didn’t miss the slightly glazed look in her eyes. The sight only sharpened his hunger.
“I am a vampire, little Irina,” he reminded her, his voice rough with hunger and arousal. “As…strategically placed as it is, your dagger won’t kill me.”

"Oh, but won’t you wish it had?”



Jennifer Blackstream is a psychology enthusiast with both a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology. Her fascination with the human mind is most appeased through the study of mythology and folklore as well as all of Terry Pratchett’s novels.

Jennifer enjoys listening to Alice Cooper, trying new recipes (to which she will add garlic whether it calls for it or not), watching television with her family, and playing with her woefully intelligent four year old son. 

Jennifer spends most of her time drinking coffee from her X-Men mug and desperately trying to get all her ideas written down before her toddler can find that all magical button on her laptop to make all her work vanish.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thursday Threads: Unconquerable Callie by DeAnn Smallwood

Unconquerable Callie by DeAnn Smallwood

Genre: Historical Romance

Heat Level: Sweet 


Callie Collins, a proud woman in the late 1800’s, is a liar and a darned good one, a master of the dubious art. She is also a dreamer. Her greatest hope is to reach a new life in South Pass City Wyoming, where she can open a bakery and live an independent life. To be successful, she will need her greatest gifts of deception to date. As a woman alone, she has to prove to Seth McCalister, the wagon master, that she has the wherewithal (a wagon and a set of oxen), the stamina to survive months of drought, dust, hardships and even risk of death, and a mythical fiancé who waits at the end of the line. McCallister is uneasy, but also mystified by the audacity and determination of the young woman. He allows her to join the train west. What he doesn’t realize is there is no fiancé. To make matters worse, Callie is in love with Seth McCallister, too. For the first time, the lies that have brought her so far in life threaten to keep her from her one, true love. McCallister is a man of strong character and Callie feels certain that once he realizes her deception, he’ll turn away, ashamed of his love and trust in her.


        She left the empty dining room and, with shoulders squared, set out for the general store. The town hummed like a beehive of angry bees, streets crowded with wagons of every description, vendors set up on any available space offering any and all items needed for the trip west. If you wanted it, Independence had it. You just had to find the right stall or store.
        Callie strolled past each vendor seeing-without-seeing the wares. There would be time to stock her wagon once she had one. She reached for the door to the general store only to have it shoved open from the inside, hitting her with such force she went tumbling backward down the steps. She landed on her rump in the dusty street, hat askew, petticoats up over the top of her fashionable buttoned shoes.
         Before she realized what had happened, she was pulled up into strong arms, then flopped over a masculine forearm while a large hand administered rib shaking blows to her back.
        “Breathe.” The order came harsh in her ear while he smacked her back again.
        “I said breathe, lady.” The stranger shook her.
        “Stop,” Callie gasped weakly, head wobbling from side-to-side. “Stop pounding my back and shaking me.” She forced the words out between squeaky intakes of air.
        As sudden as the earthquake had started, it stopped. She remained in a tight vise against the man’s chest.
        Then he spoke again, his voice full of anger. “What in the hell, begging your pardon, Ma’am, but just what were you doing on the other side of that door?”
        Callie pulled her head back and attempted to focus. How dare he! He’d just pushed her down two steps, into a dirty street, showed her petticoats to passersby, knocked the breath out of her, pummeled her back to black and blue, and then berated her for standing in front of a door leading to a place of business.
        “You . . .”
        “Hush,” he barked. “I hollered to ‘Stand clear’ before throwing open the door. Are you deaf?”
        No, she hadn’t heard. She’d been thinking, worrying, about that dratted wagon. Anyway, it certainly wasn’t her fault and as soon as she freed herself of a pair of strong arms and a man smelling of witch hazel and the clean scent of wood smoke, she’d tell him so.
        “We were rolling out kegs and barrels. You could have been hurt. I’ve seen some dumb stunts, lady, but standing there with your head in the clouds when someone is trying to prevent an accident, is just, well, it’s just crazy.” With that, he released her and set her firmly on her feet. He brushed off the dust clinging to her dress.
        Callie eyed him apprehensively and backed away only to feel the heel of her shoe teeter over the edge of the step. She flailed her arms and would have tumbled back down the steps again if, quick as a snake, he hadn’t reached out and grabbed her.
        "Ma'am,' he growled, "you'd better get home to the safety of your kitchen and not venture out without your husband on your arm. You're a menace." And before Callie could put her tongue into action, he picked her up like a doll and firmly set her to one side while he stormed down the steps. He was part of the crowd before she could speak all the unladylike words that were on her lips.
        Of all the egotistical males, she had just met the king. How dare he admonish her to home and hearth? How dare he knock her down, brush her off, and scold her in front of everyone? Men. If she ever needed proof she’d done the right thing in seeking independence, there it was. A tall, strong, pigheaded stranger who just happened to have the deepest pair of blue eyes she’d ever seen.



Soul Mate Publishing:

Other books by DeAnn:

Death Crosses the Finish Line

Sapphire Blue 

Montana Star

Wyoming Heather 

Tears in the Wind 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Threads: The Viscount's Vow by Collette Cameron

The Viscount’s Vow by Collette Cameron

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency

Heat Level: Sensual

Amidst murder and betrayal, destiny and hearts collide when scandal forces a viscount and a gypsy noblewoman to marry in this Regency romance sprinkled with suspense and humor. 

Part Romani, part English noblewoman, Evangeline Caruthers is the last woman in England Ian Hamilton, the Viscount Warrick, could ever love—an immoral wanton responsible for his brother’s and father’s deaths. She thinks he’s a foul-tempered blackguard, who after setting out to cause her downfall, finds himself forced to marry her—snared in the trap of his own making.

When Vangie learns the marriage ceremony itself may have been a ruse, she flees to her gypsy relatives, declaring herself divorced from Ian under Romani law. He pursues her to the gypsy encampment, and when the handsome gypsy king offers to take Ian’s place in Vangie’s bed, jealousy stirs hot and dangerous. 

At last, under a balmy starlit sky, Ian and Vangie breech the chasm separating them. Peril lurks though. Ian’s the last in his line, and his stepmother intends to dispose of the newlyweds so her daughter can inherit his estate. Only by trusting each other can they overcome scandal and murderous betrayal. 

“A brilliant tale combining Regency romance with exotic Romani culture.”


     “You didn’t eat much, wife.”
     They were alone on the dance floor. Ian deftly twirled Vangie around his aunt’s smallish ballroom, mindful of the interested gazes watching them.
     Stealing a glance at the smiling and nodding onlookers, he suppressed a frown. He felt like a curiosity on display at Bullock’s Museum. He wished others would take to the floor, so he could dispense with the devoted bridegroom facade.
     The twelve courses at dinner had been torturous. His wife hadn’t taken more than a dozen bites nor said as many words. He’d tried to eat the succulent foods Aunt Edith had gone to such efforts to have prepared, but his anger made everything dry as chalk and every bit as tasteless.
     “I’d not much appetite, my lord.”
     He chuckled. “Don’t you think you might address me by my given name, wife?”
     "Why?” she asked pertly. “I’ve known you but four days, certainly not long enough to be so familiar with you.”
     He lowered his head, breathing in her ear, very aware every eye in the room was trained on them. He’d give them something to gossip about. “Because I want you to, wife, and you did promise to obey.” 
     He nipped her ear.
     She jumped and a tiny yelp of surprise escaped before she clamped her lips together. Her eyes were 
shooting sparks again; only this time they were directed at him. 
     “What’s my name, wife?”
     “Please, don’t call me that. I too have a name, as you well know.”
     Drawing her closer, her breasts pressing against the breadth of his chest and cresting the edge of her bodice, he murmured, “Indeed, but Evangeline sounds . . . angelic, and we both know you’re no such thing.” 
     “Pardon?” She stiffened, trying to shove away from him. “I don’t under—”
     His head descended again. “Say it, or I’ll trace your ear with my tongue.”
     He grinned as her breath hissed from between clenched teeth. She stumbled, her fingers digging into his shoulder and hand. A very becoming flush swept across her face.
     “Will you cease?” Her worried gaze careened around the room. “We’re being watched.” 
     Voice husky, he said, “Say my name, sweeting.”
     Giving her a gentle squeeze, he started to dip his head, caressing her elegant neck with his hot breath.
     “Ian, your name is Ian,” she gasped breathlessly, twisting her head away.

Contact Collette
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: Echo Prophecy by Lindsey Fairleigh

I’m going to say something very, very odd. Okay, here it goes: I liked Echo Prophecy. (This is not the bizarre part). I thought it was an interesting and creative blend of the Kane Chronicles,The Matrix, and the Twilight series. (Yeah, that’s the weirdness.)

First things first: I love Egyptian mythology. Heck, I have a black cat named Bast and several pieces of (totally cheap and awesomely fake) Egyptian art. I’m also a huge, unrepentant, nerdy fan of The Matrix. When the first Matrix movie occupied the theaters, so did I. Twelve times. I even, although don’t tell anyone I said so, kinda liked the Twilight series, especially the last two. Oddly enough, all of these loves collide in this book, in which the main character, Alexandra Larson, archaeologist and Egyptologist, stumbles across a race of beings on whom the ancient Egyptian divine mythologies were based. More, Lex learns she is not only one of them, but, like Neo, is The One. I’m a shameless fan of “The One” trope. How cool is it when a normal, even boring person, finds out she’s, oh, you know, the savior of the human race or something? Booyah! Finally and bizarrely, the gender dynamics between Echo Prophecy's two main characters reminded me a lot of the relationship between Bella and Edward in Twilight: arrogant and gorgeous man whom everyone wants falls madly, hopelessly, protectively in love with the shero, who cries a lot over him until they resolve their differences and have steamy sex.

Farleigh’s universe is creative and interesting. It’s also educational; I learned quite a bit more about those awesomely anthropomorphic Egyptian gods. She populates it with likable and unlikable people and a few who, as in real life, are both. (Heaven knows I like me some blurring of the traditional boundaries.)

Farleigh’s greatest strength, in my opinion, is her clever use of dialogue. She’s fantastic at portraying realistic patterns of speech. I like characters’ misunderstandings, slips of the tongue, and anxious stutterings; it’s a giant slice of relatable reality. My favorite character is Kat, the eighteen-year-old daughter of a shop owner. From her obsession with cute boys and her boob size to her eye rolling and use of popular slang, Kat is the quintessential straight teenager. She adds much-needed levity to balance the parts that feature violence, kidnapping, torture, and physiologically required sex. Gulp. Dominic, another character who becomes extremely important to Lex, also stole my heart. Despite the creep factor (you’ll know what I mean when you read it), had it become a love triangle among Lex, Marcus, and Dom, I would definitely have signed up for Team Dominic.

I admit it: I stayed up super late to finish this book. That’s just how it is. The creative universe and the cool race of superpeople sucks you in, but the skilled dialogue and the sweet and loving relationships between people (I love the relationship between Lex and her beloved mother!) in this novel keep you riveted.

Now that we have my thoughts out of the way, let's try to win some stuff! Lindsey will be awarding a $20 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so be sure to comment below and enter her giveaway via Rafflecopter. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Echo Prophecy (Echo Trilogy, #1)
by Lindsey Fairleigh


“Meswett, know yourself and you shall know the gods.
Meswett, trust yourself and you shall trust the gods.
So it ends, from start to finish,
as found in writing.”
—taken from the Prophecy of Nuin, Old Kingdom, c. 2180 BCE

I thought I knew people. I didn’t.

I thought I could trust my family and my friends. I couldn’t.

I thought I at least had some idea of who I am. Wrong.

But here’s the real kicker: I never thought I’d be in the heart of an ancient temple, driven by desperation and hatred, ready to kill my own father.

Screaming, I launch myself at him. My rage and sorrow are so great that I no longer have room for any other emotions. Coherent thought is foreign to me. I have one purpose—to destroy him.

He doesn’t see me coming. He can’t see me coming. I’m moving too quickly, bending time to my will. It’s impossible, but that doesn’t make it any less real.


My father doesn’t have time to finish the question. I’ve already torn the gun from his grasp and pressed the muzzle against the side of his head.

I flex my index finger.



Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book--as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she's not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Napa Valley with her loving husband and confused cats.







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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Christmas Anthology Featuring a Story by Your Favorite Agnostic

The holidays are upon us. Luckily for you, so is Soul Mate’s holiday anthology. You like sci-fi? High fantasy? Inspirational? Contemporary? Paranormal? Girl, boy, and everyone in-between, we got your back.

Soul Mate just published a holiday anthology, appropriately titled All I Want for Christmas is a Soul Mate. Cute and catchy, right? The anthology features twenty short stories, all clocking in around 4000 words. It’s like a fun-sized chocolate bar. Times twenty.  

To address the elephant in my head (I doubt few but me really care), the title does include the word “Christmas,” and the anthology includes some Christian themes and stories; however, I think many of us used it as a time of year rather than a nod to the ostensibly Christian holiday. The anthology is inclusive of many religious identities. I happen to know of one story, for random example, that features a sexy, biracial, Agnostic protagonist and her Jewish love interest. Ahem.

Totally coincidentally, here's the hook for my own contribution to the anthology: Hunter Jade's assignment to guard the new guy turns into a life and death food fight, sparking romance among the rutabagas.”

Below is the back cover blurb for this anthology. If it intrigues you (and it seriously has something for almost everyone), I urge you to scoot on over to Amazon and buy a copy. Buy two. Buy ten. The anthology is only $3. Heck, buy and use them as metaphorical stocking stuffers, as Hanukkah presents, as Solstice celebrations, or as gifts honoring the end of Kwanzaa.

Happy, romantic Chrismahanukwansolstice!*

* Thanks to my beloved friend, Mycroft Masada Holmes, for introducing me to this word.


All I Want For Christmas is a Soul Mate . . . 

This year’s delightful collection of Christmas short stories features a multitude of romantic genres all with one common theme: during the holiday season, nothing’s better than spending it with the one you love. 

Twenty talented Soul Mate authors have put together an anthology that’s sure to please any reader who enjoys their romance with a splash of Christmas cheer: 
A time-traveling Highlander brings comfort and joy to a young woman grieving her lost family... 
Best friends, both widowed, suddenly see each other through new eyes during a snowed-in Christmas Eve; 
A royal prince and a commoner fall in love despite their differences and a handful of untruths, thanks to a wreath that grants wishes . . . 
An alien race understands the simple reward of giving, when their human captive does not... 
Young lovers planning a Christmas wedding find their promise to each other is put to the ultimate test... 
A ghostly groom refuses to stay away from the woman he loves . . . 
For two modern believers, a magical, mystical visit to Bethlehem on the night of the Christ Child’s birth is both a joy and a responsibility... 
And many more heartwarming, romantic stories celebrating ‘The Season To Be Jolly.’ 

Please join us as we tell a few tales, raise a glass of holiday cheer, and deck the halls with romance as well as boughs of holly! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Happy 30th to a Fat Pride Staple

Photo by Substantia Jones of the Adipositivity Project
I’ve identified as a feminist since I was twenty-three and took my first women’s studies course. Shortly thereafter, my oldest sister, Lauri J Owen, and I developed a PowerPoint presentation that highlighted ads' pernicious effects on women’s body image and senses of self. We presented it everywhere anyone let us in hopes of encouraging women to regain their right to define themselves.

During one presentation, a woman from the audience spoke up. “You’re right!” she exclaimed. “Advertisements are trying to sell us a sense of dissatisfaction with our bodies. They’re always telling me I’m too fat. But you know what? I’m not fat! I’m beautiful!”

Several murmurs and head nods splashed into the silence.

You don’t get it, I thought, but never said. You just don’t get it.

This may have been the first, but it wasn’t the last time that happened.

Did I mention I was (and still am) fat? I was that from which these women distanced themselves in order to reclaim their body esteem. My fat was their terror. Shortly after that, I wrote a poem that begins: “How do you think I feel / being the boogeywoman?”

It was the late-90s. All around me, feminists talked “body image” and “killing our TVs” to protect our psyches from homogenized, consumerist-driven representations of humanity. Sister and brother progressives railed against the pain of poverty and the agony of alienation. And still, when the topics of national health, consumerism, or body image came up, my fat body served as scapegoat, threat, butt of the joke.

I had researched fatness and diets and knew the literature; I knew I was fat for good. Learning that, I started working on moving beyond body tolerance and into body celebration. (Truly, it wasn’t too difficult, since I’d always been more attracted to fatter peeps.)

I busted my behind to deconstruct thin beauty ideals and debunk fat myths. It seemed so clear to me: Fat was a civil rights issue. Yet my sister and brother progressives would not or could not join me on my journey down the road to size positivity.* I felt frustrated. Hurt. I wanted someone to understand, to commiserate with me.

I don’t remember how I stumbled across it the first time, but I do remember the elation I experienced when I read Schoenfielder and Wieser’s Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression. After devouring this anthology, I felt I’d gained a new vocabulary, a history, a way of talking about the issues that affected my life. I’d found my people.

This anthology, published in 1983, wasn’t an academic analysis of fatphobia but instead a moving and political collection of memoirs from fat, mostly White, lesbian feminists. I know not every politicized fat person could or can identify with these authors, but for me, their tales of forced diets, body shaming, and burgeoning body acceptance hit all the right spots. I can still remember crying like a kindergartener while reading Judy Freespirit’s “A Day in My Life.” “I make sure,” she writes, “that when I walk to the Xerox machine I breathe evenly and heavily so [my coworkers] will not interpret my asthma as the huffing and puffing of a fat slob” (118).

You get it, I thought then and think now, weeping. You get it.

I am the proud owner of this gorgeous painting
by Judy Freespirit. She painted it in 2010,
the same year she passed. RIP, Judy Freespirit.
This wasn’t the first book written about fat or even fat rights. As far as I know, however, it was the first book written by fat women for fat readers. It wasn’t a psychoanalytic analysis of fat people, a cultural history of dieting, an exploration of the function of fat civil rights groups. Shadow on a Tightrope served two central purposes: It provided a microphone for these fat (and mostly White) women, and it aimed to empower fatties. It was an early fat manifesta.

This is the thirtieth anniversary of the book’s publication. I have known it for half its life. Since reading it in 1999, I have written a dissertation on coping with fatphobia, participated in and even led fat rights groups, and currently serve as a fat studies co-chair for an international organization. I met both my partner and my best friend at fat pride events. I have published novels and poetry that celebrate fat, strong characters – including me.

Did Shadow on a Tightrope do all that for me? No, but it helped me find the seeds of body positivity to sprinkle through my personal garden. Heck, I cite the book several times in my diss. A year ago, I sent a copy to my partner. I make my Social Policy students read Judy Freespirit’s heartbreaking essay. Maybe it makes them cry, too.

Happy birthday, SoaT. Thank you for getting it.

* I’m not trying to vilify all liberals and progressives, then or now. I get that fat rights was a new concept to folks in the late-90s. Heck it’s still a pretty new concept. I’ve found great support from many feminist, queer, and disability rights activists, but I eagerly await the time when all progressives will eschew the still-common practice of throwing fatties under the political progress bus.