On bullying, domestic violence, homophobia, and fear #HAHAT #IDAHOT

(Please click on the above image for a list of participants in this year’s hop.)

I learned fear the year I turned fourteen.

When I came out of the bathroom at school, a boy would knock my purse just hard enough to empty its contents. When I approached a classroom, another boy would ambush me with a homemade rubber band gun.

“She flinched!” he would crow, chortling with laughter until my so-called friends joined in.

“Did you flinch?”

It became a game to see how far they could push without getting caught. I carried all of my possessions with me so I wouldn’t have to stop by a locker. I mastered changing into and out of my gym uniform fast enough to prevent salacious comments or ransacking of my bag while my back was turned. I learned to remain as still as stone, never giving away my feelings.

Who am I kidding? My feelings were easy to read as the tears escaped. Gym class and bus rides were the worst. I counted each day as I went to bed. One week. Two months. Four months. I knew I would be told to “ignore” or that I was making a big deal out of nothing, so I told no one.

I became labeled a “c*nt,” and I was too naive to know it was an insult until someone told me.

At the end of the day, however, it’s not the boys I remember. I remember my so-called friends, laughing as they joined in. I remember my father asking, “What did you do to provoke them?” I remember my mother saying, “It’s your fault for not telling anyone.” Boys would be boys, and girls were to blame for fighting back or not fighting back.

Bullying. It’s a popular word these days, as parents, teachers, and officials scramble to find a solution to a complicated problem. What is bullying, what does it look like, and what can we do to help? Specifically, what does bullying mean for the LGBT community?

Welcome to the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT)! I’m thrilled to join the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia (HAHAT), a collective effort from authors, publishers, reviewers, cover artists, and others involved in LGBT fiction. IDAHOT has been supported by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well as many, many others. The aim of IDAHOT is to encourage local efforts, and as an author of F/F fiction I’m grateful for the chance to participate.

We talk a great deal about homophobia, transphobia, and other fears about those deemed “different.” Too often, the response is a dismissive comment such as, “I’m not scared of anyone; I think homosexuality is wrong. I have the right to think that without anyone shoving a gay agenda down my throat.”

Today, I’d like to make a proposition:

Homophobia, domestic violence, and bullying all stem from the same fear.

What fear might that be?

Fear of the unknown. Fear of the “different.” Fear, coupled with a desire to control others.

But mostly, fear of ourselves.

That’s right, ourselves. When we are secure in our own identity, confident and happy to be who we are, we have no need to knock anyone else down (physically or emotionally). The comments people have given me about F/F fiction reveal much about their insecurities and nothing about the love between two women.

What happens to a woman caught between multiple forms of this fear? She might face homophobia at work and domestic violence from her partner at home. But if that partner is a woman, resources may not be available to her that are available to a heterosexual woman. Consider these findings from the Lesbian Partner Violence Fact Sheet :

  • Domestic violence in lesbian relationships is as common or more common (1 in 4 or 1 in 3) as domestic violence in heterosexual relationships.
  • Women in same-sex relationships may not be allowed to request a court-ordered protective order
  • A homophobic environment allows a woman to threaten her partner with forced outing (to family, work, etc.). This also means a woman who is abused cannot seek help from the police.

According to a study by Little and Terrance (2010), gender stereotypes make it difficult for lesbian women to “prove” that they were the victim of domestic violence. Men tend to dismiss all violence perpetrated by a female to a female, and women tend to blame a female victim if she did not conform with stereotypically feminine traits.

Perhaps most shocking of all, many domestic violence shelters refuse to take lesbian women. That’s right. For the 16% of lesbian domestic violence victims who seek official help, they are then re-victimized with denial of legal protection and shelter.

(For more information: Domestic Violence in the LGBT community and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s New Data on Domestic and Sexual Violence

Special thanks to Myra Swintz for providing informative links.)

Do we hear about this in the LGBT news? Nope. We hear about people outraged that someone won’t make them a wedding cake.

I understand that discrimination of any type is wrong, but what is more important? A wedding cake or protecting lives?

As the anti-homophobia movement is gaining momentum, I would like to add this plea:

Let’s focus our energies on where it matters, not on trivial issues.

How do I focus my energies? I write stories of women who love women, and I use opposite worlds to help people understand what it would be like to live in a society that blames us for our identity.

Becoming-Clissine-Cover

Click here for the Becoming Clissine book trailer

Becoming Clissine (Bastia, Book One)

What if heterosexuality were a crime?

Betrothed at birth to the daughter of one of the most prominent Houses in the totalitarian theocracy of Bastia, soon-to-be-college-graduate Clissa isn’t sure whether she is ready to undergo the Mar. Once she becomes the Nur, or the submissive partner, to her betrothed she will have to submit all major decisions of her life to the beautiful Helaine whom she has only met once. She must marry a woman, according to the decrees of Bastian law.

Caught between his desire to “get along” and the growing awareness that he is “het” and is attracted to Clissa, Destral kisses her one day as they study in their college library. Shocked at the feelings the kiss awakens, Clissa begins to question everything she has been taught. Did Basti, their deity, really decree that it was sinful for a man to be with a woman? Will her growing feelings for Destral cost her everything that her parents have worked hard to give her?

In a mad attempt to subvert Bastian authority, Clissa and Destral run away to find the Het Pride, a group that preaches tolerance, equality, and peace. Z, their leader, promises that one day hets will achieve equality and freedom. When the Bastian police capture or kills most of the Het Pride, however, Clissa is assigned to new parents for “reeducation” in the doctrine of Bastia. Her new parents are given one mandate: Bring her back to rightness with Basti.

Clissa, lost in a system that is threatened by her very identity, must make her choice. Will she be broken by Bastian authority, or will she find a way to break free? Can true love overcome a harsh regime?

—-

For this hop, I will offer three prizes:

How to enter: Leave your name and a working email address in the comments. Respond to one or more of the following prompts:

  • What about this post surprised you or was new to you?
  • Please share any personal experience and/or wisdom to share regarding any of the points made in this article.
  • How could we make more resources available for lesbian women who have experienced bullying and/or domestic violence?

Winners will be announced on May 25th here on the blog (governingana.wordpress.com), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/anastasiapvitsky), and Twitter (@AnastasiaVitsky). Winners must claim their prizes within 24 hours, or I will re-draw for a new winner.

Extra prize entries! If you leave a new review on Amazon and/or Blushing Books for any of my F/F books (The Way Home, Lighting the Way, Editorial Board, Simple Gifts, Desire in Any Language, Mira’s Miracle, and Becoming Clissine), you will receive an extra prize entry for each book you review! All of my books are available on Amazon and Blushing, and you will receive a prize entry for every review (two per book, if you post both on Amazon and Blushing). Please leave a note in the comments telling me which book you reviewed and where.

Best of luck, and happy International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia!

It’s almost here: Becoming Clissine, Bastia Book One!

Welcome to Saturday Spankings, Seductive Studs and Sirens, Snippet Sunday, and Weekend Writing Warriors!

Back by popular demand…Becoming Clissine!

Read the previous snippets if you’re unfamiliar with the world of Bastia, or re-read them for a refresher.

Part 1: Introduction to Bastia

Part 2: Prologue of Becoming Clissine, the first book in the Bastia series

Part 3: Clissa’s lack of repentance

Part 4: Altrea’s prayer for Clissa’s soul

Part 5: Love, the first commandment

Part 6: Forbidden pleasure

Part 7: Meeting the parents

Part 8: Mess and death

Next Tuesday, Becoming Clissine (Bastia, Book One) receives its worldwide debut! Today’s entry marks the beginning of a weeklong “Choose your own adventure” event, Bastia-style!

Before we embark on the adventure, we’ll need a grounding in rules of the Bastia storyverse. This is a totalitarian theocracy where the state church controls birth, marriage, and death. At the heart lies Bastia herself, the forbidding deity.

On Monday, I’ll introduce you to a classmate of Clissa and Destral who watches their illicit “study” date activities. You’ll get to vote for what should happen next, and each day will bring a new story installment!

At the end of next week, the person with the most daily comments (or the random winner amongst those who have commented each day, or the person with the best comments) will win either a custom-written Bastia story or an Amazon gift certificate!

For now, the groundwork for Bastian life:

The lengthy pledge of faith Bastian children learned at their parents’ knee and recited every day until they died, the Orthodoxy served as the cornerstone of all Bastian life.

.

I believe in Basti, the giver of life,
who created an orthodox order for all living beings.

I believe in the natural order of man to man, woman to woman, to preserve the stability and integrity of our life as Basti decreed.

I believe that Basti walked among us, true deity and true human,
to experience the frailties of human life and restore us to rightness with her.

I believe that Basti loves all equally, regardless of their place in life, in accordance with the divine order of nature.

I believe that interfering with Bastian law
is the root of all evil and must be punished ruthlessly.

Basti created Nur and Dis, to create a society perfect in its balance of nurturing and discipline,
and in forming partnerships of Nur and Dis
we honor Basti in our daily lives.

Basti will come again to judge the living and the dead, and she will punish
those who have not lived according to Bastian law.

Becoming-Clissine-Cover

Choose the next Anastasia Vitsky book for the #Ndulgenthop!

Are you a fan of Guilty Indulgences? I am! To celebrate the three-year anniversary of their book review site, Guilty Indulgences is hosting a blog hop. Prizes include a large box of books plus author and book swag. Check out the link for more information about other authors and books.

Guilty Indulgences was kind enough to give a “five chocolate-dipped strawberries” rating, the ultimate guilty indulgence, to The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus.

The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus is a silly, laugh aloud Christmas tale like none other you’ve ever read. I giggled- yes, actual giggles – during some scenes. As the narrator and the main character argue about who should tell the tale, the author creates a relationship between the two women that seems genuine. This relationship adds depth to Claire, the main character, who is quirky and most definitely bratty. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that this book is a whole new take on what becoming an adult for Christmas means… which includes some perfectly naughty spankings.

In some countries, turning 21 means gaining the right to vote and drink alcoholic beverages. For Claire Labraun, the Christmas after her 21st birthday would be beyond her wildest imagination.

Minelle and Matthew Labraun believed in a traditional marriage. Matthew was head of their household, and Minelle was his helpmeet.  When it came to raising their headstrong 21-year-old daughter, however, they found themselves at a loss.  Minelle had always taught Claire to do the right thing for right’s sake. Claire, however, had different ideas.  She rebelled against their rules, flaunted authority, and connived to get things she wanted.  She had never been spanked in her life; Matthew and Minelle kept that adult privilege strictly between themselves. But this year, a visit from Santa plus Claire’s newly adult status would change her idea of Christmas forever.

For my post for today, I’m hosting a poll. Of all the books and stories I have published so far, which next installment or sequel would you like to see most? Why? Choices include:

1. Kat and Natalie (The Way Home, “Tomorrow” in Coming to Terms, and Lighting the Way)

The-Way-Home

Natalie always wanted a little sister.  Kat didn’t know she was allowed to want anything…or anyone.

Kat, a shy farmgirl, arrives at her freshman dorm with a backpack, a suitcase, and her mother’s wish for Kat to attend college “at least until you get married”. Her roommate Natalie, a confident and fun-loving social butterfly, decides sight unseen that Kat will become her best friend for life. Natalie teaches Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing…and over her knee.

Then their lives fall apart one fateful night on campus, and for the rest of the decade Kat and Natalie struggle to find their way back to each other. Their way home.

Lighting-the-Way

College roommates, best friends, and family. Can Kat and Natalie find a way to stay together…without killing each other?

Kat Astra knows one thing: everything is her fault. A dead-end job. A fear of confrontation. An inability to speak up when necessary. Desertion of her best friend in her time of need.

Natalie Mestecom knows one thing too: everything Kat does is Natalie’s fault. The relationship rule is simple; Kat has problems, and Natalie fixes them. But what worked in adolescence becomes more complicated with adulthood, and new developments in their relationship challenge these roles. Kat is no longer sure whether she is willing to be disciplined according to Natalie’s rules, and Natalie is no longer sure whether she is worthy of Kat’s trust.

Can Natalie allow herself to be vulnerable? Can Kat believe in her own strength? Can Natalie believe in Kat’s strength? How will they, each in their own way, learn to move beyond guilt and blame in order to forge a new relationship together? In order to make peace with themselves and each other, Kat and Natalie reconnect with family, re-visit memories of their past, and make plans for taking steps forward in the future. To light their way home.

2. Mira and Hana (Desire in Any Language)

vitskydesire

Mira thought she wanted a spanking.  What she got was love.

On her own for the first time, Mira is studying abroad for her translator’s certificate.  Unfortunately, the heady excitement of dance clubs, late-night parties, and endless shopping quickly distracts her from her educational goals.  Mira’s advisor offers her private tutoring, but the combined pressures of culture and language difference threaten Mira’s progress at school.  She is unable to get her act together until she makes a discovery that horrifies and tantalizes her: in her new country, corporal punishment is a way of life.  The secret to her academic success just might also fulfill her wildest, unspoken dreams.

Sexy. Seductive. Dangerous. A poignant and compelling read.

3. Matthew and Minelle/Claire and Daniel (The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus)

See above

4. Spring and Rachel (Editorial Board)

Ediecover

Award-winning author Spring Meadows and newspaper-turned-literary editor Rachel Templeton have one thing in common: they can’t stand each other.  Spring is sure that her bestselling talents single-handedly keep her publishing company afloat, while Rachel would like nothing better than to take this smart-mouthed, button-pushing prima donna down a peg or two.  When Spring makes the fatal mistake of accusing Rachel of sexual misconduct, Rachel decides to teach her a lesson.

“What is an author to an editor?” Spring asks herself.  If only she had been prepared for Rachel’s answer…

5. Leila and Carene (Simple Gifts)

SimpleGifts-AnastasiaVitsky-v1

Music.  Without the love of her life, how can Leila learn to live again?

Professional violinist Leila Feran is accustomed to fame as the youngest and first female concertmaster of the Philharmonic Symphony.  Driven to achieve ever-increasing heights, she injures her wrist so badly that she may no longer be able to play.  While she recovers, she moves in with her childhood best friend, a pianist and beloved orchestra teacher in a small town.

Carene welcomes Leila with open arms and only one condition: no divas allowed.  And if Leila can’t follow the house rules, she might find herself over Carene’s knee…or worse. In between arguments over physical therapy and house rules, Carene’s zero-tolerance policy regarding divas results in some old-fashioned discipline that changes into something more.

Will Leila and Carene’s new feelings for each other blossom into something wonderful? Or will Leila lose not just a potential soul mate, but also her friend?

(Please note the two soon-to-be published works, Becoming Clissine (Bastia, Book One) and “Complicated Gifts,” the short story follow-up to Simple Gifts that will be published in early October.)

To enter my contest, please choose only one couple to vote for a next book or story. Tell me which couple you’d like to see in a future story and why! The best answer will be chosen to be a beta reader for your chosen sequel.

Thanks for joining the hop! Be sure to visit all of the other authors in this great event.

Announcing the bloghop recipients

Congratulations to the winners for last week’s Suicide Prevention Week bloghop, hosted by the fabulous Louisa Bacio. In response to my post, many of you left wonderful, thoughtful comments. Thank you.

Belinda G has won the $50 gift certificate as the grand prize for the hop. For my own contest, I offered a copy of The Way Home to two randomly chosen winners. Susie of Her Mischief Managed and Irishey of Irishey’s Isle each won a copy. Irishey has already read the first adventures of Kat and Natalie, so she donated her copy to another participant in the hop. Carolyn won a copy of The Way Home.

Thank you to everyone who participated! Thank you especially for your openness about a difficult subject that is very dear to my heart.

 

The-Way-Home

On the precious nature of life

Louisa Bacio has put together a bloghop titled “Authors Care” in support of Suicide Prevention Week. If you’re like me, you grew up with stilted, embarrassing suicide awareness videos but little interest in the matter…until it became personal. I tuned the message out, along with the yearly sex ed sessions and most of the lessons involving math.

When I got into high school, things changed. One friend found a note written by a mutual friend, describing how she wanted to take razors to herself. The first friend came to me for advice, and with the help of the school counselor we set up a suicide watch. A student in the grade above me was found with a bullet to his head. Another classmate’s younger brother lost his life…on Mother’s Day.

We read Ordinary People in English class and discussed suicide as if it were a literary device, while overworked school counselors passed out numbers to the suicide help line. I became a peer counselor and took classes on how to listen. Not to fix, to judge, or to diagnose, but simply to listen. For me, because this is how I handle most of life’s issues, I delved into the literary world. I wrote a play about a girl who commits suicide, and I read books about characters dealing with or recovering from suicide.

One of my favorite authors, Kyoko Mori, wrote the autobiographical Shizuko’s Daughter.  It’s a taut, elegant, and heartrending story of a girl growing up in the shadow of her mother’s suicide. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

Another book I loved was Language of Goldfish by Zibby O’Neal. Although not in the same literary class as Shizuko’s Daughter, the book’s lyricism and emotional honesty are stunning. Carrie, an artist, realizes that she is not prepared to grow up. Instead of adjusting, her mental stability begins to falter. The story of her descent and recovery offers hope.

Over a decade ago, a character named Kat appeared. I didn’t know much about her, but I saw her lying on a rumpled bed, in the middle of days’ worth of mess and sick to her stomach. I saw her best friend, Natalie, pounding on the door and shouting. Breaking in to discover empty pill bottles. I wrote the story of Kat’s hospitalization after the suicide attempt, and I put it away.

One year ago, Kat and Natalie came back to me. Their story began ten years earlier this time, when they were young college girls full of energy, naivete, and love. I found, in writing their stories, that I could make sense of earlier events in my real life. Could I change people’s lives with what I wrote? Probably not. Could I change mine? Yes.

In writing Kat’s story, I created a friend who valued her, listened to her, and guided her out of the time in her life when living seemed impossible. Kat had reasons; everyone had reasons, but what she needed most of all was love. The love might not have come in the exact form she wished. 🙂 But it was still love.

People do care. We are worth it.

If you don’t believe that now, please reach out. Call a hotline. Message a friend. Google for resources.

Will you do something for me? Will you send a note to someone in your life, perhaps someone with whom you have not had contact lately? Will you let that person know what he or she means to you? Or compliment them on a job well done, a positive attribute, or remind him or her of special times together?

We’re stuck on this planet together, and our only option is to take care of each other.

I offer this small scene from The Way Home as a reminder that life does get better.

“Kat, goddamnit…”

I turn away from Natalie’s accusations. Dr. Mitchell’s repeated “Katherines” are easy to ignore, but Natalie’s anger is more difficult to shut out.

“…and then they ask me where you got them, and I told them no way could you have gotten them at my house. I’d been with you the whole time… but then I went to the bathroom and found the bottle half-empty. How could you? When I was right there?”

Why bother to mouth the apology she will not accept?

“Katty, if you hate me that much… You had to get back at me, didn’t you? I didn’t tell Mrs. Roach not to renew your lease. You’re mad at the wrong person. All I did was try to protect you. You yell at me to give you privacy, and the one time I respect it, you…” Her voice catches.

For the first time, I look at her. Her hands are clenched into fists as she blinks rapidly, looking at the bump in the bedclothes where my feet stick up. Her nose has gotten pink.

“Natty…” I croak.
A tear trickles down her face.
“Natty,” I try again.
Her chest heaves up and down, but still she does not speak. I reach out to her as best I can amidst all the wires. Natty jumps a little as she feels my arm reaching up to her in a half-hug, and she looks at me for the first time. As if without thinking, she holds my hand to keep the oxygen sensor in place. I sit up as far as I can, and I reach out my other arm to bring Natalie’s head closer to my shoulder. She resists at first, but finally she scoots closer on her stool and lets her weight fall into my body. I try to stroke her hair, but it gets tangled up in the cord. I mutter a bad word and return to holding her as she cries.

After a moment, Natalie straightens up, giving a rueful laugh. “Anyone would think I’m the one who’s sick,” she says as I give her a tissue so she can blow her nose.

I squeeze her hand as best as I can. “You can join me if you want,” I say as I indicate the empty bed next to me. “The meals suck, but at least you don’t have to cook or wash dishes.”

“Oh, I ought to—” Natalie’s first smile freezes as she catches her breath. She looks stricken, but I interrupt to finish her sentence.

“Spank me until I can’t sit down, just as soon as I’m better enough for it?”
Natalie shakes her head as tears fill her eyes, but I shake my head right back.
“Yes. You should. Or I’ll spank you.”
That startles a laugh out of her, and Natalie puts a hand on my shoulder. “If you ever

actually killed yourself, I’d…”
“Kill me?” I bite my tongue, too late, and I grimace as I anticipate the rebuke. But Natalie gives a wry laugh. “Yeah. I guess.”

We look at each other without speaking for a moment, and before I know it, it is not just Nat’s eyes that are watery. I cough a bit, unnecessarily, and let go of her hand to grab a small box left as a gift on my bedside table. I hold it up to Natalie.

“Let’s play checkers.”
“What? You don’t even like…”
I do my best to set up the board and the checkers, though, and Natalie eventually joins in.

She jumps my checkers, starting to giggle, and I move my pieces directly into her jumping line. She looks up at me, quizzically.

“Isn’t the point of checkers not to get jumped?”

“Not if you’re playing with someone who’s suicidal… OW!” I cannot help giggling as Natalie flicks her finger against my forehead.

“Oh, so that’s how you’re going to play, is it? Well how about if I don’t play along? How about if I just let your checkers win?” Natalie gives me a mock stern look.

“Then I guess I just sit here in sheer boredom until I get to go home,” I say, trying to sound as piteous as possible.

“Would serve you right,” Natalie sniffs.

“It would,” I whisper, starting to cry. And this time it is Natalie who reaches out to me, holding me close. Telling me that it will all be okay. For the first time ever, I believe her.

The-Way-Home
Natalie always wanted a little sister.  Kat didn’t know she was allowed to want anything…or anyone.

Kat, a shy farmgirl, arrives at her freshman dorm with a backpack, a suitcase, and her mother’s wish for Kat to attend college “at least until you get married”. Her roommate Natalie, a confident and fun-loving social butterfly, decides sight unseen that Kat will become her best friend for life. Natalie teaches Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing…and over her knee.

Then their lives fall apart one fateful night on campus, and for the rest of the decade Kat and Natalie struggle to find their way back to each other. Their way home.

I’ll be offering copies of The Way Home as a prize for two random commenters (through the 14th). I realize that many of my regular visitors have already read the book. If that’s the case, you may designate an alternate recipient of your choice.

For the list of all participating authors, click here.

Wet and Wild bloghop!

Welcome to Skye Warren’s Wet and Wild Bloghop! Please click here for a list of other authors who are participating in this event. In order to be eligible for a $100 Victoria Secret gift certificate, please leave you email address in your comment. Skye will choose the winner from the comments, and you need to have your email address visible for her to contact you.

I will be awarding one free copy of any of my books (Coming to Terms, Simple Gifts, The Way Home, Editorial Board, Desire in Any Language, or The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus) to one lucky commenter. To be eligible for my prize, leave a comment (with your email address, of course!) answering the following questions:

  1. Have you read any F/F stories?
  2. If yes, which ones? If no, would you be willing to try one?
  3. If you win my contest, which of my books would you like to receive and why?

 

SimpleGifts-AnastasiaVitsky-v1

Music.  Without the love of her life, how can Leila learn to live again?

 

Professional violinist Leila Feran is accustomed to fame as the youngest and first female concertmaster of the Philharmonic Symphony.  Driven to achieve ever-increasing heights, she injures her wrist so badly that she may no longer be able to play.  While she recovers, she moves in with her childhood best friend, a pianist and beloved orchestra teacher in a small town.

Carene welcomes Leila with open arms and only one condition: no divas allowed.  And if Leila can’t follow the house rules, she might find herself over Carene’s knee…or worse. In between arguments over physical therapy and house rules, Carene’s zero-tolerance policy regarding divas results in some old-fashioned discipline that changes into something more.

 

Will Leila and Carene’s new feelings for each other blossom into something wonderful? Or will Leila lose not just a potential soul mate, but also her friend?

Coming to Terms cover

Summer means more than fun and sun, rest and relaxation. For the couples in Coming to Terms, vacation presents a chance to connect, and work through important issues in their domestic discipline relationships. From endeavoring to define DD to missing a DD partner to balancing erotic spanking and disciplinary spanking, these stand-alone stories penned by seven authors of spanking fiction cover a broad spectrum of issues commonly encountered in loving DD relationships. Will the obstacles prove too difficult to overcome? Or will each couple emerge from the vacation with their relationships revitalized and stronger than ever?

WARNING: This book contains scenes with spanking, Domestic Discipline, and graphic sex.

*Contains the short story “Tomorrow” that serves as a transition between The Way Home and Lighting the Way.

Lighting-the-Way

College roommates, best friends, and family. Can Kat and Natalie find a way to stay together…without killing each other?

 

Kat Astra knows one thing: everything is her fault. A dead-end job. A fear of confrontation. An inability to speak up when necessary. Desertion of her best friend in her time of need.

 

Natalie Mestecom knows one thing too: everything Kat does is Natalie’s fault. The relationship rule is simple; Kat has problems, and Natalie fixes them. But what worked in adolescence becomes more complicated with adulthood, and new developments in their relationship challenge these roles. Kat is no longer sure whether she is willing to be disciplined according to Natalie’s rules, and Natalie is no longer sure whether she is worthy of Kat’s trust.

 

Can Natalie allow herself to be vulnerable? Can Kat believe in her own strength? Can Natalie believe in Kat’s strength? How will they, each in their own way, learn to move beyond guilt and blame in order to forge a new relationship together? In order to make peace with themselves and each other, Kat and Natalie reconnect with family, re-visit memories of their past, and make plans for taking steps forward in the future. To light their way home.

The-Way-Home

Natalie always wanted a little sister.  Kat didn’t know she was allowed to want anything…or anyone.

 

Kat, a shy farmgirl, arrives at her freshman dorm with a backpack, a suitcase, and her mother’s wish for Kat to attend college “at least until you get married”. Her roommate Natalie, a confident and fun-loving social butterfly, decides sight unseen that Kat will become her best friend for life. Natalie teaches Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing…and over her knee.

 

Then their lives fall apart one fateful night on campus, and for the rest of the decade Kat and Natalie struggle to find their way back to each other. Their way home.

 

Ediecover

Award-winning author Spring Meadows and newspaper-turned-literary editor Rachel Templeton have one thing in common: they can’t stand each other.  Spring is sure that her bestselling talents single-handedly keep her publishing company afloat, while Rachel would like nothing better than to take this smart-mouthed, button-pushing prima donna down a peg or two.  When Spring makes the fatal mistake of accusing Rachel of sexual misconduct, Rachel decides to teach her a lesson.

 

“What is an author to an editor?” Spring asks herself.  If only she had been prepared for Rachel’s answer…

vitskydesire

Mira thought she wanted a spanking.  What she got was love.

On her own for the first time, Mira is studying abroad for her translator’s certificate.  Unfortunately, the heady excitement of dance clubs, late-night parties, and endless shopping quickly distracts her from her educational goals.  Mira’s advisor offers her private tutoring, but the combined pressures of culture and language difference threaten Mira’s progress at school.  She is unable to get her act together until she makes a discovery that horrifies and tantalizes her: in her new country, corporal punishment is a way of life.  The secret to her academic success just might also fulfill her wildest, unspoken dreams.

 

 

Sexy. Seductive. Dangerous. A poignant and compelling read.

 

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In some countries, turning 21 means gaining the right to vote and drink alcoholic beverages. For Claire Labraun, the Christmas after her 21st birthday would be beyond her wildest imagination.

Minelle and Matthew Labraun believed in a traditional marriage. Matthew was head of their household, and Minelle was his helpmeet.  When it came to raising their headstrong 21-year-old daughter, however, they found themselves at a loss.  Minelle had always taught Claire to do the right thing for right’s sake. Claire, however, had different ideas.  She rebelled against their rules, flaunted authority, and connived to get things she wanted.  She had never been spanked in her life; Matthew and Minelle kept that adult privilege strictly between themselves. But this year, a visit from Santa plus Claire’s newly adult status would change her idea of Christmas forever.

Happy news!

Some fun things happening today.

I’m over at Virginia Lori-Jennings’ Author Spotlight this week, and you can go over to ask me questions. You can leave a question in the comments on her page (or, if you have trouble leaving a comment because of the captcha), you can email me your question. (Or if you leave the question in the comments of this post, make it clear that it’s for the spotlight.)

Cat is the lucky winner of Kate Richards‘ prize from this week’s Fika: An ARC of Dungeon Time, Kate’s soon-to-be-published book! Hurrah! Congratulations, Cat! Thanks for donating the prize, Kate!

I’m also over at Scorching Book Reviews today for their LGBT Event! One lucky commenter will win a FREE copy of Simple Gifts! All you have to do is leave a comment on the post. (Post will go live at approximately 1 PM EST today, so it’s not up yet.) A chance to win a free copy of the book, and a interview with Carene and Leila. What could be better? Except Carene’s not quite comfortable with everything that Leila shares in the interview. Uh oh…could Leila be in for some trouble afterward? 😉

Tonight for Saturday Spankings, I’ll be posting a delicious snippet of the naughty Leila and Carene. Did I say naughty? I meant naughty. 😀 And, since I’m joining another event (the Seductive Sirens, a bloghop specifically for LGBT and LGBT-friendly authors and readers), this weekend you’ll get TWO snippets (one tonight/tomorrow and a second one on Sunday)! Two, two snippets for the price of one!

Finally, the promised music-background posts about Simple Gifts will be coming. I promise. It’s just that I’m sure you’d rather have me finish my new WIP, right? Then you can get your next book faster. 😀 I will be posting about the music (and spankings!) behind Carene and Leila’s story as soon as I get this first draft finished. I promise. 😀

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Enjoy your day. Be sure to do something naughty. 😉

 

Love without Labels: The “F/F” of F/F Fiction

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(For Monday Morning Fika, please scroll down one post.)

Scorching Book Reviews is hosting an LGBT Fiction Blog Hop April 1-6, and I am proud to participate. Click on the above image for the complete list of participating authors and readers. Do you have a favorite LGBT book? Chime in, please!

As much as I support this event and appreciate Scorching Book Reviews for hosting it, I can’t help hesitating at the label of “LGBT fiction”. As I’ve said before, I resist the label of “LGBT” or “lesbian” fiction. Labels are a great tool for marketing, finding an audience (and as a reader, finding books that will interest me), and sorting books into categories for expediency. At the same time, I wonder whether using these labels will cause people disappointment when they find out that my books don’t contain hot girl-on-girl action (perhaps for male viewing pleasure). I write stories of love between women, but I prefer to write without labels. As I wrote in an interview with Katherine Deane, I also like to write about the intimacy between two women that may or may not contain references to sex:

The reason for the emphasis on female characters is simply that traditional stories tend to neglect stories of women in their own right. Especially in television and films, unless they are specifically marketed to a female audience, we have tended to have stories of men’s girlfriends, sex objects, lovers, mothers, and neighbors. Look at Big Bang Theory, for example. Men’s stories are great, but I’ve never been interested in following the majority. Women have rich and interesting lives, and I love to tell their stories.

Lucy Felthouse and KT Grant visited Fika earlier this year to talk about their love of writing F/F stories.

I am grateful to be surrounded by a wonderfully supportive community that not just tolerates but relishes F/F fiction. I’m thrilled to have an entire event dedicated to pairings beyond the traditional M/F. But does that have to mean “lesbian”? This is not an idle question but one with real-life consequences.

The Way Home, my newest release that tells the story of two college roommates who become lifelong sister-friends, is a story of love without labels. Kat and Natalie, who recently gave a character interview, share a love that goes beyond labels until the outside world forces a label onto them…”The L Word”, the emotional heart of the book, describes the implications of this labeling. Kat and Natalie are targeted, not because of their biological sexuality (which is a non-issue in the book), but because random outsiders assume that two girls together must be lesbians. In this way, the attack is not about being or not being lesbian–the attack is about the assumptions inherent in labeling others.

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Editorial Board, takes a much more light-hearted view of the relationship between two women. Spring, a badly behaved author, meets her match in her new editor, Rachel. While there are no sex scenes in the book, Spring accuses Rachel of sexual misconduct in order to undercut Rachel’s authority in the office. The phrase, “The sex was good” takes on several different meanings throughout the course of the book.

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A book that I have a particular soft spot for is Desire in Any Language, a coming-out and coming-of-age story of a young adult who studies abroad and finds love and discipline at the same time. I’m not a fan of the shock-and-horror old-school style of coming out stories where the character’s life is devastated by discovering his or her sexuality. Mira certainly goes through many struggles on her journey to learn more about herself, but in owning her sexuality she is able to blossom into adulthood.

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Finally, my upcoming release, Simple Gifts (scheduled for April 24 publication by LazyDay), is my first outright F/F romance. In fact, it is a classic “friends-to-lovers” tale of two childhood best friends who find themselves wanting more as adults. Leila, a professional violinist, and Carene, a pianist and orchestra teacher, come together after Leila’s injury forces her to take disability leave from her symphony. What happens between them was unplanned for me as the author…and perhaps some of my favorite scenes.

There are many other wonderful F/F stories available, and I hope that you’ll take a chance. If you’ve never read a F/F story, try picking one up. You never know what you’ll find. 🙂

In solidarity with all who support the stories of love between people, no matter what the label.

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(FYI: I’m having internet and electricity issues. If I don’t respond or have another post up for a while, it’s because I’m offline. Sorry! I will get back to you as soon as I can.)

#RitesofSpring: Kat’s new name

1st Place: Kindle Fire 2nd Place: $50 Amazon gift certificate

The wonderful Jessica Subject and Heather Long have organized this Rites of Spring bloghop, and there are some wonderful prizes (Kindle Fire and $50 Amazon gift certificate). To be eligible to win, please leave your email address in the body of your comment. If you want to leave a comment but don’t want to be part of the contest, omit your email address.

In addition to the grand prizes, I will randomly select TWO lucky winners to receive a copy of one book of their choice from my list (The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus, Desire in Any Language, Editorial Board, or The Way Home). HOWEVER, copy-paste “generic” comments will be disqualified. Your comment must address the content of this post. Best of luck!

Because my site doesn’t support Rafflecopter (necessary to enter the grand prize drawing), please instead visit the Rafflecopter site here to enter in the prize drawing. There are 75 other authors participating in this bloghop, so be sure to check out other authors! Everyone is posting about a character’s first.

A dark-haired girl is sitting on one of the beds, surrounded by matching floral suitcases and a rainbow of crates set up on one side of the room. Around the window, she has put up a fake curtain made from contact paper. On her desk sits a vase filled with poppies and encircled with a red ribbon around the neck.

I clear my throat and croak, “Are you Natalie?”

The girl drops the books she is sorting, and she springs to a standing position. Her eyes take in my suitcases before she asks, “Oh… oh! Yes. So, are you Katherine?”

“It’s Kat,” I say, trying not to blush. It is time that I lost my baby name. Katie sounds cute and perky, two things I am not.

The Way Home, my newest release that is entering its third week on the Amazon Top 100 list, tells the story of two girls, Kat Astra and Natalie Mestecom. They meet in their new college dorm room, and they bond instantly. The next ten years of their relationship are chronicled in The Way Home and will continue in the sequel (scheduled for publication by LazyDay on June 6th, which is incidentally Kat’s birthday).

Kat’s “first” is this moment when she consciously chooses to cut off ties to her old, childhood name and begin life with a new one. Although she is quite shy and not fond of interviews, she agreed to share some of her thoughts about changing her name.

Anastasia Vitsky: Kat, was this a first for you? Had you ever determined your own nickname before?

Kat Astra: When I was growing up, everyone called me Katie. Kids at school, my teachers, my family…well, everyone except my mom. She…(pause).

Anastasia Vitsky: She called you something different, didn’t she?

Kat Astra: Yes. (clearing throat) She called me Katie Beth. Because my full name is Katherine Elizabeth, and…(voice trails off)

Anastasia Vitsky: I’m sorry, I know how much you miss her.

Kat Astra: Sometimes other people would call me Katie Beth, but not often. That was her special name for me.

Anastasia Vitsky: Why did you choose to change your name when you went to college? Did you think about it ahead of time?

Kat Astra: No, not at all. I thought I was going to answer Natalie’s question by saying that I was Katie, but then I ended up saying something different.

Anastasia Vitsky: And now everyone calls you Kat, right?

Kat Astra: Yes, it feels funny to hear my old nickname. Although sometimes people get my name wrong and call me Kate, Kathy, and once even Kitty. I do get called Katherine a lot by telemarketers and people who have official paperwork.

Anastasia Vitsky: What was it like to introduce yourself as Kat for the first time? Are you glad that you did it?

Kat Astra: I never told Natalie this, but I wanted to take my words back! I felt foolish and as if she would know that my name really was Katie. She accepted me as Kat, though. She’s always accepted me. She made a silly joke about us being Kat and Nat, and I think there was an addition about a mat.

Anastasia Vitsky: Why did you pick Kat? Why not Kate, Kathy, or Kitty?

Kat Astra: I don’t know! Kat was the first nickname that popped into my head. Now, though, I couldn’t picture myself as anything but Kat.

Anastasia Vitsky: Why was changing your nickname an important first for you?

Kat Astra: It was the first time that I made a decision about my life without having to ask someone else for permission. For the first time, I got to determine what happened to me. I was the youngest in my family, and I never really got a say in things. Meeting Natalie was the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but part of what made it great is that it helped me figure out who I am. I’m no longer baby Katie, but I’m Kat. Even better, I’m Natalie’s Kat.

Anastasia Vitsky: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I know it’s hard for you to talk to others, and I’m glad you suggested doing the interview alone. You seem more comfortable without Natalie.

Kat Astra: Natalie is my best friend and the person in my life I can count on the most, but sometimes she can be scary. Please don’t tell her I said that.

Anastasia Vitsky: I won’t breathe a word. Do you have any final comments for our readers?

Kat Astra: I was wondering if anyone else has changed your name, like me, for the first time. Did it surprise you the way it surprised me? Or have you always gone by the same name?

Anastasia Vitsky: Thank you again, Kat. Please tell Natalie hello for me.

Kat Astra: Please tell her not to read this interview. Bye!

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The Way Home, Lazy Day
Natalie always wanted a little sister.  Kat didn’t know she was allowed to want anything…or anyone.

Kat, a shy farmgirl, arrives at her freshman dorm with a backpack, a suitcase, and her mother’s wish for Kat to attend college “at least until you get married”. Her roommate Natalie, a confident and fun-loving social butterfly, decides sight unseen that Kat will become her best friend for life. Natalie teaches Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing…and over her knee.

Then their lives fall apart one fateful night on campus, and for the rest of the decade Kat and Natalie struggle to find their way back to each other. Their way home.

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Barnes and Noble

Buy it on All Romance Ebooks

#Wewriwa: Home without Natalie (Release day THIS Wednesday! Vote for the blurb!)

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Release day is almost here!! It’s been over a decade since Kat and Natalie first came to me, over a year since I re-discovered their stories, over seven months since I started posting new installments, and six months since I began this tumultuous, amazing journey toward publication.

I may have published three books between signing the contract and the release date, but this is my first book. My first-born, the child of my heart, the breath of my body. I’ve grown as a writer since I put the first words to paper (and winced as I did the revising and editing that did not allow me to do the complete overhaul I would have wished), and in one way I am a bit embarrassed at some of the clunky, amateurish sentences. I took too much to heart some editing suggestions and tinkered too much with the details. Some of the places show where I should have left well enough alone.

But…even on the 700 millionth re-read for the final PDF, I found myself in tears…again. “The L Word”. “Dreams”. Those two chapters reduce me to tears every single time.

Here, world. Here is my naked, pulsating soul. Take it softly, please. If you hate it, tell me gently…but not yet.

Today’s snippet is from the opening scene where we meet Kat and realize that Natalie is missing from her life. Missing, but very much present in her absence.

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I trudge to the kitchen, open the fridge, and blearily search for the peanut butter before remembering that Natalie is no longer around to hide my favorite morning toast spread. Try as I might, I never could break her of the habit of refrigerating perfectly good peanut butter.

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“It won’t spread when it’s cold!” I insisted. “It melts onto your hot toast, anyway. Besides, do you want food poisoning?”

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Natalie has this phobia about food poisoning. She is absolutely certain that every food must be refrigerated or else it will grow lethal germs. I tried to explain that my Jif contained approximately as many preservatives as a Botox injection, and that a germ would have to be bio- genetically engineered in order to survive in all of the chemicals found in the modern wonder known as Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter. Every morning, I would complain to Natalie about my cold peanut butter and she would tell me to get over it.

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Would you please help me? I am rewriting the blurb for this book. I want something that will draw the reader in and make him or her say, “I MUST read this book!”

Which blurb appeals to you? Do you have feedback/suggestions to make your chosen blurb better?

Thank you SO much!

BLURB NUMBER ONE:

The Way Home (Kat and Natalie, Volume One)

For ten years, Natalie has been Kat’s rock, the one person Kat could always depend on to be there for her whether she needed a hug, a giggle-fest, or even a punishment. Natalie has been the confident and fun-loving social butterfly who teaches Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing… and over her knee. But as they grow up, the darkness of the grown-up world creeps in and pulls them apart.

So when Kat wakes up one morning to find Natalie shutting her out for the second time, she is at a loss. In trying to make sense of Natalie’s abrupt alienation, she thinks back to all the good times they had together – and all the bad. It has been nearly a decade since the last time Natalie shut Kat out, and now she knows that they must make peace with that fateful night all those years ago if they are ever to find their way back to each other. Their way home.

BLURB NUMBER TWO:

From their first day as college roommates, Natalie has been Kat’s world. Now their world is falling apart.

The peanut butter. Natalie always liked it cold. Except she’s no longer around to care.

Waking up one morning, Kat receives a nasty shock.  The jangling of the telephone call breaks into Kat’s life of jigsaw puzzles and macaroni and cheese. Natalie is in the hospital. No visiting. Just bring the house key, she says.

Kat desperately tries to reach out, but Natalie slams the door in her face. Reeling, Kat pieces together memories from their previous ten years together. Natalie was always the confident and fun-loving social butterfly who taught Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing… and over her knee. From their first meeting when Natalie introduced Kat to the wooden spoon that would become the cornerstone of their relationship to the last awful fight that broke apart their world, Natalie has always been the one in charge.

Left on her own for the first time, Kat comes to a terrifying conclusion. If she doesn’t find the courage to fight for their relationship, no one will. What will she do?

Warning: This novel contains scenes of adult spanking in a domestic discipline relationship.

 

UPDATE:

 

The lovely Sue Lyndon has suggested this mash-up of the two blurbs. What do you think?

Natalie has been Kat’s world. Now their world is falling apart. It hurts that the one person Kat could always depend to be there for hugs, giggle-fests, or even a punishment is now absent. Natalie was the confident and fun-loving social butterfly who taught Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing…and over her knee. If only the darkness of the grown-up world hadn’t crept in and pulled them apart…
 
A decade has passed since the last time Natalie shut Kat out. When Natalie ends up in the hospital, Kat tries to reach out – only to get the door slammed in her face. Will they ever make peace with the fateful night that separated them all those years ago? Or will they find their way back to each other? Their way home.

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Available THIS WEDNESDAY, March 6th from Lazy Day Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble
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Like what you see here? My *other* new release, Editorial Board, is available here. Thank you!