New bonus stories! Gemstone & Wooden Spoon Chronicles

If you’re a fan of Gemstone or Kat and Natalie, you’re in luck! They each have a bonus story available on Patreon.

Gemstone2

In the Gemstone bonus story, we get a peek at life after the “happily ever after.” That is, what happens when (spoiler alert!) Gemma and Celine finally get together? Here’s a snippet:

Gemma closes the door after Cindy and Lissa, and she quirks an eyebrow at me.

“Well?” In case you’re wondering, marriage does not come with a translation manual for facial expressions. The raised eyebrow can mean anything from, “That was odd” to “What did you think?” and “Get ready for an immediate spanking.”

I find it’s safest to clarify before taking action.

The-Way-Home

Lighting-the-Way

In the Wooden Spoon Chronicle, aka the Kat and Natalie bonus story, we get a glimpse into Kat’s childhood as well as one of the most poignant moments she has shared with Natalie so far.

Helicopter seed. That’s what I used to call them, at least. The thin, papery skin feathered out, while the center contained a soft, pliable green seed. If I tossed one into the air just right, the pale beige shape spun like a miniature helicopter. I picked one at a time. Sometimes I’d grasp it in both hands to give the ultimate whirl. Other times, I would dig a grubby fingernail to peel back layers of nature’s packaging.

For the rest of these bonus stories, subscribe to my Patreon site where you will get exclusive and/or early access to these and more! Plus, you’ll get early notifications about all Ana Vitsky events.

Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 24: 3rd Annual Fireside Chat with Kat and Natalie

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UPDATE: Evil Mistress Kate, AKA Kate Richards, wrote the conclusion to her story here, using JC’s suggestion of an ice cream sundae. Warning: NSFA. And I mean NSFA!

Yes, miscreants, I accidentally put Day 24 instead of Day 23 yesterday. For your impertinence, Miss PT, Mrs. Claus will deliver an extra corner stool for your use.

I loved your letters to Mrs. Claus! If I had a day’s comments to collect into a special memento, it would be yesterday’s. Thank you, Lara, for pointing out the overlooked December birthdays and prompting a fun celebration. I think we should make the Birthday Bash a new tradition, don’t you?

Previous Fireside Chats with Kat and Natalie:

2012

2013 (and the story of how Kat and Natalie came to be)

Kat and Natalie story posts mentioned today:

Breaking Glass

Lake Kat, or the story of Natalie’s new spanking spatula

Let it Go: Kat and Natalie watch Frozen

Mother’s Day, Again

Hiding

Kat’s Christmas Wish (2013)

Study Date

Spanking the Cockroach

What a Turkey!

Ana: Merry Christmas Eve, Kat and Natalie! Happy holidays to everyone who celebrates a different occasion, but you observe Christmas, right?

Kat: Yes, we promised Natalie’s mom.

Natalie (looking surprised at Kat’s response): I remember when you couldn’t look at anyone in public, let alone speak up. You were a wreck before we visited Adaline Raine for her blog.

Kat (blushing): Don’t remind me of that.

Ana: It must be your nursing classes and how well you’re doing at school, Kat. Remember when you were terrified of enrolling in a CNA class? Now you’ll be on the dean’s list in no time.

Kat: Oh, please don’t say that! Then Natalie will get it into her head that she has to make me do it.

Ana, laughing: I thought Natalie complained that you studied too much?

Kat: Well, yes. She can’t make up her mind whether to make me stay home so I don’t get too stressed, or if she should let me do whatever I want because she’s so happy I’m finally in school.

Natalie: My, my. Someone has gotten bolder. Keep it up, Katling, and I’ll decide you’re no longer too shy and timid to get a spanking in public.

Kat (turning white): Eep!

Ana: To be fair, though, things have changed for both of you. You seem more relaxed with each other. You always were playful, but there’s a new comfort level. What made the difference?

(Kat and Natalie look at each other, and Natalie nods permission at Kat.)

Kat: Natalie’s been getting some counseling. I always told her that if she got her head fixed, we would–YIPES! Natty!

(Natalie smacks Kat’s thigh, and they both giggle at each other. Ana gives a shocked laugh.)

Ana: Wow, last year you fought about getting a baby cradle as a Christmas gift, and two years ago Kat could barely say a word to everyone. How is the counseling going? And what happened with the cradle?

Natalie (hesitantly): I hate it. So it’s probably doing some good.

Kat: She won’t tell me anything that happens, but that’s okay. I didn’t tell her much when I had to do it. The worst part is when she snaps out of her fog, realizes she hasn’t kept tabs on me, and says “No!” to everything just to show she’s still in charge.

Natalie: The cradle is in the attic for now. It makes Kat too sad to see it.

Ana: Oh, no! What happened?

Kat (getting a little teary): It was for the best.

(Natalie puts her hand on top of Kat’s.)

Natalie: We got the call about a little boy, ten months old and the sweetest ever. Kat was over the moon, and we’d had the nursery ready for months. Then his mom changed her mind.

Kat: I’m glad he can be with his mom. It’s better for him…but I was so close to becoming a mother.

Ana: That must have been heart-wrenching to go through, but I’m glad his mom was able to care for him after all.

Kat: Liam. His name was Liam. He just had his first birthday.

(Natalie pats Kat’s hand.)

Natalie: When the time is right, it will happen.

Kat: With losing Liam and Natalie not feeling up to much, we decided to stay home this year and not make the visit to family. Natty’s parents are upset, of course, but we promised them a good, long Easter visit.

Ana: What are you doing tonight and tomorrow?

Natalie: We go to a little church across town, and they’ll have a candlelight service tonight. Nothing overwhelming, just the old familiar songs.

Kat: Familiar to Natalie. I’m still learning them.

Ana: Really?

Kat: Yeah, my family didn’t get into Christmas. Too busy.

Natalie: And tomorrow, since Kat’s complained I’ve neglected her, I’m going to devote my attention to her for the whole day.

Kat: Oh, no!

Natalie (winking): You’ve slipped far too much past me in the past few months when I didn’t feel up to dealing with you, and don’t try to deny it.

Ana: I’m not trying to criticize, Natalie, but…on Christmas Day? Shouldn’t our sweet Kat get some leniency?

Natalie (laughing): That’s the story she tries to tell everyone, but Mrs. Claus knows better. I didn’t spank Kat for a whole month, and she got cranky and out-of-sorts.

Ana: I thought you got some sugar cookies that put you both in a better mood.

(Kat and Natalie both blush.)

Kat: I might have lost my temper and threatened to leave. And…er, kind of tried to.

Ana: Kat! You promised you’d never do that again.

Natalie (grimly): She scared me half to death. She said I’d ignored her, so I promised not to get distracted again.

Kat: A little distracted might be a good thing.

Natalie: I’ve been working longer hours because I want to set up a trust fund for the baby, not that Kat likes to hear about it.

Kat: I get more freedom when she works late, but she comes home stressed and ready to kill. Last week after her appointment with Dr. Mitchell, she finally talked to me about a few things. We still fight if we go into certain topics, but we’re making progress. I think. But it’s weird to see her this way.

Ana: It unnerves you?

Kat: Yeah.

Natalie: I’m sorry, Kat.

Kat: No, I mean…you’ve always taken care of me. I think I’m realizing what a hardship that’s been for you.

Natalie: I failed you in a lot of ways.

Kat (sniffling): No. Never.

Ana: You two have grown so much in the years I’ve known you, and it’s amazing to see where you’ve been versus where you are now. So many people are glad you’ve stuck it out despite the odds.

(Kat and Natalie remain silent, interlocking fingers.)

Ana: I’m afraid we’re out of time for this year’s Fireside Chat, but what would you like to say to all the readers who have come out for this year’s event?

Natalie (clearing her throat): That I hope you are safe, loved, and happy. And thank you for all of your notes and messages. We love you, too.

Kat: Please sign my change.org petition to eliminate hairbrushes, spatulas, wooden spoons, paddles, and so on from being given as Christmas gifts.

(Natalie smacks Kat’s thigh for a second time.)

Kat (giggling): Ow!

Natalie: Now you see why she’ll be getting my attention for the whole day tomorrow!

Kat: I mean, that no matter how sad or alone or scared or unhappy or whatever you might feel, now or another time, that things will get better. Natalie and I have been through the worst I can imagine. I thought I’d never see her again and that she could never care about me again, but we made it.

Natalie: I’ve learned that I have to let Kat take care of me, too.

Kat: Oh, please, let me “take care of” you!

 

 

 

Me, mean?: #SatSpanks and #SnipSun

Here’s an eight-sentence snippet from Kat and Natalie’s latest adventures, as part of the Saturday Spankings bloghop and Snippet Sunday. Kat’s finished making her own birthday cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip) because no one wants to eat Natalie’s cooking, and Kat gets a bit too playful with her wooden spoon. She whacks Natalie for nearly the first time in their relationship. Still, it is her birthday, so Natalie rewards Kat with a special treat–a hand spanking and reminiscing of their favorite memories. Kat doesn’t agree with Natalie’s choice, though. 🙂

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

“That one doesn’t count,” I complain, blowing the ends of my hair away from my face. After all these years, I should learn to keep a hair elastic in my pants pocket for when Natalie decides to flip me sunny side up.

“And you tried to find the school dumpster to find the hairbrush I’d so lovingly chosen for your Christmas gift,” Natalie chortles as she tugs my jeans down to my knees.

“You didn’t think it was funny at the time,” I point out. “Besides, I never would’ve lost the dumb brush if you hadn’t been so mean about it.” After a full day of frigid silence, Natalie had taken the ping-pong paddle to me twice–once for the original crime, oversleeping and missing my eight o’clock stats class, and a second time for trying to maneuver my way out of the spanking she’d threatened.

“Me, mean?” Natalie’s voice drips with false surprise as she slaps my bottom with the practiced rhythm born of years–no, decades–nestling me in her lap, patting my back as each spank awakens a delicious, forbidden tingle.

 

 

Happy birthday, Kat!: #SatSpanks, #WeWriWa, and #SnipSun

Here’s an eight-sentence snippet from Kat and Natalie’s latest adventures, as part of the Saturday Spankings bloghop, Weekend Writing Warriors, and Snippet Sunday. Kat’s finished making her own birthday cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip) because no one wants to eat Natalie’s cooking, and Kat gets a bit too playful with her wooden spoon. She whacks Natalie for nearly the first time in their relationship. Still, it is her birthday…

(background snippet from last week)

Natalie throws back her head and gives the rich, full-throated belly laugh that sends pleasurable shivers through my insides. There was a time when neither of us could find humor in anything, and we wouldn’t have dared to play. She crooks her finger, mischief glinting from her eyes as she motions for me to assume the position.

I huff in my best pouty manner, “You’re not allowed to spank me on my birthday.”

She caresses the seat of my jeans and gives a pinch. I yelp; she squeezes harder and scolds, “I told you to relax on your birthday, not make cookies.”

“Making cookies is relaxing,” I point out, and she seats herself at a chair from the kitchen table before pulling me over her lap.

“So is getting your birthday spanking,” she answers, and she begins the best gift of every year–a gentle hand spanking, each swat accompanied by retelling a favorite memory of our thirteen years together.

Please help Natalie celebrate Kat’s birthday! What is your favorite memory of their years together?

 

 

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!

New Kat and Natalie story: Mother’s Day, Again

At Governing Ana, we have a tradition of a special new Kat and Natalie story for each Mother’s Day. This year’s story is a sneak peek of the third book in the Kat and Natalie series, and it’s my gift to everyone who has been a loyal supporter in the past few years.

Kat and Natalie were my first, my favorite, and the ones who launched the entire Anastasia Vitsky career. If you are new, I hope you’ll enjoy this taste of their lives.

Natalie’s voice comes through my cell phone, loud and insistent. “Let me come and get you.”

I fish a tissue out of my purse sitting in the passenger seat. “Don’t be silly.”

“Where are you?”

I squint at the lights around me. “A gas station. I can’t remember which exit. But I’m fi—fi…”

I can almost hear the tapping of Natalie’s shoes as she paces. I picture her circling the kitchen where she grew up, while her parents look on in concern. At the thought of her mother, the woman who has come to love me like her own child, I snap back to reality.

“Can you ask someone where you are?”

“No,” I answer, blowing my nose. “I shouldn’t have bothered you. I’ll be fine.”

“Mom and Dad picked us up at the airport, we got you to the rental car, you’ve been driving for an hour…did you go straight through? Or did you make any stops?”

I want her to come, more than anything. I want her to park, open my door, and tell me to switch to the other side. I want her to take over and drive my car, but I can’t.

Please read the rest of “Mother’s Day, Again” over at Kat-Sitting, Kat and Natalie’s story blog.

———

(If you’re new to the world of Kat and Natalie, you can read of their adventures in The Way Home, 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.

Coming to Terms cover

Picking up the pieces after an unexpected separation, thirty-something Kat Astra tries to make sense of a relationship gone wrong. Ever since the two met as college roommates, Natalie has been an infuriating mixture of confidence, overprotectiveness, discipline, and emotional unavailability. Natalie expects openness and honesty from Kat, but she forgets one thing: Natalie has needs, too.

 

When they seek help, the couple receives a mandate: create new, positive memories to replace the old, hurtful ones. In an uncharacteristic move, Natalie plans a trip for them to get away from their daily grind. On their first vacation together, they come to terms with their relationship roles. How will they make things work? Will the fun of their time in the sun carry over into their ordinary life, or will they continue their cycle of misunderstandings?

 

“Tomorrow” serves as an intermezzo between The Way Home and Lighting the Way, the first two books in the Kat and Natalie series.

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.

 

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.