Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I'm Not a Racist, BUT... #BlackLivesMatter

If you're in the mood to read happy fluffy stuff about the care, feeding, and birth of an anthology, that post is over on Susan J. Berger's blog. In it I discuss what reasons are good for a group to put out an anthology, what benefits it brings to already established, best-selling authors, and what I learned during the process, please check it out.


7 Ways to Support #BlackLivesMatter and Be a Good Ally (for my white friends)

1) It's not about you, and it's not about your husband/brother/other loved one who is a conscientious and careful police officer. #BlackLivesMatter doesn't mean ONLYBlackLivesMatter, or that it's #BLM vs. the police. You can support the police, not want them to be killed, AND want there to be police accountability, better training, and that those who mistreat POC, the mentally ill, and others get kicked off the force rather than be protected by the thin blue wall of silence.

#Black LivesMatter is about drawing attention to and trying to change the ongoing, systemic racial bias that impacts policing, the judicial system, employment, housing, and and and.  Here's an excellent post with statistics by J.B.W. Tucker.

Borrowed from onsizzle

2) Self-educate on the issues and how you can help. Our exhausted friends who are POC don't have the time and energy to spoonfeed us anti-racism 101 (though they are trying gallantly, anyway).

3) Don't cry, excessively apologize, or in any other way seek attention or a gold star on your mental "good person" chart from a POC. They are suffering grief, pain, worry, and PTSD. They don't deserve to be saddled with comforting white people because we have uncomfortable feels right now.

4) If you are white, you might be sick of hearing about white privilege and being asked to check it. Trust me, POC are even more sick of living without it. Too often sick or injured, literally to death.

If you have ever been the lone white person in a group of black, Hispanic, Asian, or other not-white group, how unsettling did it feel? Now imagine that is your life, every single day, and you have a little glimpse at what it's like to be a minority person in America. Except that instead of mere discomfort, your life and those of people you love are at higher risk.

5) If you like to think of yourself as a "good person," but "don't want to get involved or be RUDE," by calling out the openly racist people you know on their shit, you might want to rethink that. If you believe in "Keep America Beautiful," but don't speak up when you see your friends litter, you're tacitly approving and endorsing that behavior.

6) If People of Color are speaking, STFU and LISTEN. Do not talk over, interrupt, or otherwise marginalize POC, especially right now. Put your hand over your mouth, or step away from your phone or keyboard, if you have to.

7) Limit as much as possible your whitesplaining to forums where you are a white person talking to other white people. Instead, as much as possible, support and amplify the voices of POC by sharing their experiences via social media and in conversation to other white people.

Closing with something from Sex Positive World:

We are living through painful and challenging times.

Forces for positive change are clashing with older, repressive cultures who refuse to accept change. People are dying as a result of hate-filled actions. Muslim people in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Saudi Arabia; LGBTQ people in Orlando; cafe-goers in Paris, police officers in Dallas, American People of Color... everywhere. Our hearts ache with the weight of every death, every one of these ridiculous, needless acts of violence.

Sex Positive World believes, as Maya Angelou said, that Hate has caused a lot of problems in the world, but it has not solved one yet. We believe in human connection, in love, in juicy sexual connection, in active consent and consideration of all human beings for one another.

We encourage all our members to check in with one another and offer love, consideration and support to anyone who is personally touched or triggered by these traumatizing events. We encourage our members to take a social media hiatus, if necessary - and good for you for taking care of yourselves! Or, please, ask for support from your SPW tribe, if you need it.

People may say things at this time, without fully considering the impact of their words. Please try to give the benefit of the doubt, and assume positive intent. Ask for clarification (did you actually mean XYZ?) when unsure. Allow for the fact that some might blurt out words of frustration and anger. Maybe respond with a hug?

We encourage all our members and friends to be kind, sensitive, and loving to everyone we can, during these challenging and painful times.

Please count this post as me checking in on you.
How are you feeling in these emotionally rough times?
Your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

It's Here! It's Here!

Summer Sizzle is available for sale, now!

Of course, I hope you'll read it, love it, review it.

If you haven't preordered it, you can get it at the outlet of your choosing, below:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HHNZOUI
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1124015119
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1128139488
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/summer-sizzle-6
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-summersizzle-2061259-166.html

Here's ten log lines (there are twenty great stories), to entice you:

Get swept away in this summer, love-at-first-sight fantasy every single girl dreams of in Roz Lee's Summer League!

In Shelby Ellis' Under the Light of a Thousand Stars, when Keeley was sixteen she vowed to spend every summer of her life on the island, but that was #BeforeTannerBuchanan broke her heart. How will she find her way back?

Can a blindfolded Ravannah learn to follow her sexy ballroom dance instructor in Tonya Plank's Lead Me?

In Karen Ehrenberg's Snooze You Lose, love and sparks fly when kismet is given a push for two headstrong journalists and surf junkies.

Evie Marigold is protecting her heart and her livelihood, but sexy surfer/entrepreneur Ian Sterling threatens to steal them both on the Pacific sands in The Shore Thing by Charlene Sands.

In Lynne Marshall's Something Borrowed, Something New, it's the wedding catering staff who are star-crossed lovers. Can these hard-working immigrants find a happily ever after despite coming from families who are traditional enemies?

Take one stranded actress with a secret, a small town veterinarian, and add a hideously ugly dog with worse manners. In Beverly Diehl's The Dog Days of Summer, can the sexy vet – and the dog – win Panick's heart before Hollywood calls her home? (Yes, this is my story.)

One pretty witch trapped between Heaven and Hell, one ruthless demon after a soul, and one smitten angel willing to risk it all for love, in Ophelia Bell's Falling for Her.

In Samanthe Beck's Keeping Her Handyman, he’s giving his runaway bride a night so hot she'll beg for forever.

Spring's Summer by Kara Winters: As the summer nears its end, the goddess of Spring knows she will soon see her beloved husband Hades once more. But Hades has a few tricks up his sleeve for their reunion. 

So, enough sales pitching.  I already flogged the online workshop I'm giving, and the panels I'm presenting at CatalystCon West, in my last blog post.

Let's Talk About the Helpers

There's a lot of crappy things going on in the world right now. Terrorist attacks, the UK not knowing whether to shit or wind Big Ben, US politics being especially nasty...

And my widowed sister's community in the Lake Isabella area just experienced a major wildfire, the Erskine. Over 48,000 acres burned, 285 homes destroyed. An elderly couple lost their lives. I had long planned a visit to her over the holiday weekend, as it coincides with her wedding anniversary. It was both sobering, traumatic, and inspiring to be there.

Yet, their community really came together. People helped in restaurants, gave each other places to stay, clothing. My sister fostered two puppies belonging to evacuees, although they went home before I arrived. 

We were able to visit her favorite camping spot, and because we wanted to toast the anniversary, I MacGyvered off the cap of a mini champagne bottle using a dog tag and key ring, Because we didn't bring a bottle opener or Swiss Army knife.

Except that, to our vast amusement, upon packing up to leave the campsite my sister discovered she did have a Swiss army knife, after all. We are still giggling about that.

I also got a tragic phone call, while I was with my sister, informing me of the death of a young woman I loved very much, who had been one of my family day care "babies," back in the day. Heather was only in her thirties, and it breaks my heart to know she has passed. But at least I was in a place where I could get a comforting hug.

Sometimes people call me Pollyanna, claim that I don't understand how terrible everything is. And yes, sometimes it is terrible. But it is also wonderful, and there are people out there making things better for their neighbors, as Mr. Rogers always encouraged us to do. I'm trying to both be a helper, when I can, and notice and thank those I see.

Have you noticed helpers in your life, or neighborhood?
Or around the world?
Your thoughts?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Whole Lotta Sexy Going On

First, BUY MY BOOK. Er, Story.

Y'all don't know how long I've been dying to be the one to say that. If I had a dollar, for all the Tweets and blog posts and FB ads I've read... But let's turn the page on that, shall we?

My short story, The Dog Days of Summer, will be included in the upcoming anthology Summer Sizzle. Hopefully on sale July 1, if the idiots in charge of it get it together.

Idiots in charge of it being, primarily, ME. *hangs head in shame*

It's been something of a journey, learning how to self-pub an anthology - and FWIW, I will not be making any actual money off this one. All stories have been donated to benefit LARA, the Los Angeles Romance Authors Chapter of RWA, a non-for-profit  organization that has given me and many other writers a big boost and support in our writing careers.

I enjoyed writing Dog Days, I threw some things in it that aren't typically found in many romance stories, like a hero who's shorter than the heroine, a ridiculously ugly and bad-mannered dog, and discussion of a common STI.

I hope you'll enjoy reading it, and the other stories, which are amazing.  (Maybe even leaving us a review? Pretty please with sugar on it?)

Second, I'm Giving an Online Workshop

INSTRUCTOR: Beverly Diehl
DATES: August 8 – 21 (2 weeks)
COST: $30 (LARA members: $20)
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Most writers would rather enjoy a root canal than talk about business. And yet, sometimes both are necessary (and with a little humor, both can be made less painful).
In this six-part, two & a half week online workshop, participants will learn the essentials of running their writing business successfully:
  • A Douchebag By Any Other Name (why/how to choose a pen name)
  • To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate (overview of different organization structures & the pros & cons of each)
  • Poindexter, Your New BFF (Accountants – what they do that writers need, how to choose a good one)
  • Avoiding the Death of a Thousand Paper Cuts (What forms need to be filed)
  • Separate Ways (Basic principles of business record-keeping)
  • It’s Never As Easy As It Looks On TV (How to choose an accounting software package)
  • And more!
INSTRUCTOR BIO: Beverly Diehl has been supplementing her passion for writing romance and smutty women’s fiction with day jobs in the bookkeeping and accounting field for decades more years than she likes to admit. Since 2005 she’s been working in business management for a mid-size accounting firm in the San Fernando Valley, and serving as a QuickBooks Proadvisor©. She knows where the mistakes are made, since, lucky her, she gets to find and fix them. She's also past Treasurer for the non-profit Words on Wheels (a children’s literacy program) and volunteers for the LARA Chapter of RWA.
I gave this class last year, and people really enjoyed it. I am refreshing and updating it, and look forward to sharing what I know about the business end that so many writers need to know.

Thirdly, I'm moderating two panels at this thing:

CatalystCon is a conference created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality. It is about reaching out and stimulating those who attend to create those important conversations in their own communities, changing how we as a society talk about and treat sexuality.  It is about stimulating the activist that is within all of us and sparking transformation in the way our friends, neighbors, children and even politicians discuss one of the most important aspects of humanity.
Each panel I'm moderating and participating in includes medical doctors, psychologists/sexological body workers, and other sur-thrivers.
1) Beyond Surviving: Enjoying a Vibrant and Joyous Sex Life After Rape

Session Description:

They say that at least one in four women, and one in six men, either already has been, or will be, raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Yet talking about rape often seems taboo, even in sex positive communities, - who likes the “victim” label?  In association with Sex Positive World, we’ll explore creating a safe space so that sexual assault can be talked about like other unpleasant, but certainly not “life-ruining” experiences. How intentional communities can help with shame or guilt. What are the kinds of things that a rape sur-thriver wants to hear from their therapist, families and loved ones?

We’ll discuss that one size does NOT fit all when it comes to rape and sexual assault. Those terms cover a very broad spectrum of experiences, from ongoing childhood sexual molestation, to longer term abusive relationships, to date rape and stranger rape, and each may need different approaches for healing. We’ll talk about making space to discuss rape or coercion of transpeople, of men by women, women by women, men by men, and to support those sur-thrivers. We’ll talk about the pain, guilt and frustration experienced by partners, and how we can support them through the experience.

We’ll share ideas, tools, and tips for reframing the experience to reclaim the genitals as beautiful and sexy and fun, including masturbation, self-compassion, therapy, BDSM, and reclaiming/rewriting the experience through rape reenactment.

2) Sex After (or During) Cancer Treatment? Hell, Yes!
Session Description:

While (too many!) people are still dying of cancer, more and more people are being diagnosed with cancer and LIVING. According to cancer.gov, almost 40% of American men and women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes, and the number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis reached almost 14.5 million in 2014.

In association with Sex Positive World, this session looks to embrace enjoying a healthy, vibrant, and satisfying sex life, despite the bodily changes and challenges of a cancer diagnosis. We’ll debunk the myth that sex has to mean PIV (Penis-in-Vagina) or PIA (Penis-in-Anus), and explore the MANY ways to have very satisfying sex that don’t require an erection or penetration. We’ll touch on the role and benefits of masturbation for self-compassion, body-acceptance, self-esteem, and self-knowledge. We’ll discuss toys, cushions, slings, lube, and sexual work-arounds. We’ll talk about the important role of loving partner(s) and friends, both during the initial crisis, and afterward, in helping to reclaim body image and sexual satisfaction. We’ll explore the role of humor, music, sexy photography, and other tips and tricks for being joyful before, during, or after treatment. We’ll also talk about the role of BDSM for sexual satisfaction.

“Surviving” cancer isn’t good enough. We want to thrive and enjoy our bodies, including sexually!

If you're in or can get to Los Angeles in September for Catalyst, I would love to see you there. Early bird registration ends June 30.

And the last thing I'm doing...

Besides the day job, and girlfriend dates, and boyfriend dates, and trying to keep the cats from falling out windows, is I'm working on my cancer memoir.  I've decided on the title:
Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n Roll and a Tiara: How I Celebrated Life While Kicking Cancer’s Ass
I've outlined most of it and written some of it, and plan to use this photo, modified and cropped a bit, for the cover.

On June 15 I celebrated my one-year lumpectomy anniversary. I am feeling fabulous, happy, strong, healthy, and sexy, and so far, all my medical check-ups back that up.
People look at me like I'm a little insane when I tell them the year of having cancer has been the BEST of my life. But it's true. My therapist tells me she has never seen anyone go through a cancer journey with a better attitude than me, so I decided to write it all out, and share it with the world, in the hopes that maybe there are a few nuggets or tips that will make someone else's cancer journey a little easier. Even though sometimes I have doubts about "Who the hell do you think you are, anyway?" Or that I think it's not that much to be proud of, since I only had Cancer Lite.
To that end, I am doing The Thing That All Authors Are Supposed To Do: I am starting signups for a newsletter.  See the top right corner of this page. You will notice and appreciate, I hope, that I did NOT subject you to one of those thrice-cursed pop-up subscribe boxes that never fricken go AWAY even after you've subscribed to the bloody thing.
After I get Summer Sizzle out, and get through the online class, and the memoir, and the Catalyst panels, I have a whole slew of sexy stories niggling at the corners of my brain. I can't wait to flesh them out and share them with you.
If you're a regular reader of this blog and want to read and review a .pdf of Summer Sizzle,
please leave a comment.
Your thoughts?