Sneak Preview: First page of Phantom Nights!

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Perceptions

I always knew I was crazy.

Most people probably think they’re crazy at some point or another… when they make assumptions about others that turn out to be false, or when a scorned lover calls them paranoid. But that’s not the kind of crazy I mean. I’m seriously crazy. Full-blown, see-things-in-the-dark, batshit nuts.

It started with window phantoms when I was a child. I couldn’t look out the windows after dark for fear of the faces I’d see staring back at me. No one else saw them, but I knew they were there. Vacant, black eyes sunk into pallid skin, beckoning me soundlessly through mouths open so wide it couldn’t be real.

Yet I saw them anyway. And while it was real to no one else, it was real enough to me. Cowered beneath blankets, shivering, unwilling to even blink for too long, I knew what lurked in the shadows beyond the walls. When morning broke and my mother came to wake me for school, I’d cry and throw the pillows at her, threading both hands into my hair and trying to rip it all from my scalp, banging my head against the headboard to quiet the phantoms. Only during the day could I rest without fear, chanting to myself, “It’s not real, Samantha. They can’t hurt you.”

Now, at eighteen years old, I’m crazier than ever before. I see new things. Not phantoms, but real dark creatures; monsters in the flesh without the barrier of window glass.

They are demons. Terrifying creatures. Things that prey on mankind in the night, shaped like men but darker inside than the black sky above. The wretched beings with mouths gaping open at me through windows as a child now slither through the dark streets around me, though they’re rare enough I hardly ever see them. I’m the only human who’s not oblivious. They’re so real to me. I’ve seen them, heard their voices, and even touched them.

They call themselves Vespers.

And I’m madly, head-over-heels in love with one of them.

 

PHANTOM NIGHTS releases Monday, October 19th! Don’t forget to grab the first book in the series, GILDED DESTINY, for free! It’s the gold cover on my right hand side bar. 😉

Deeper Than Dragons – #LetThemBeDragons

The Dragons have so much to teach us.

But first, The Dragons (children), Ireene, and I want to thank you for the tremendous outpouring of love and acceptance from my last blog post in which I discussed my personal failings as an advocate for and parent of a transgender kid, and how a group of seven dragons have taught me more about acceptance than any adult possibly could. They thank you for hearing how they accept each other and wanting to do the same. I personally thank you for your stories shared, your questions asked, and the tears you shed. It brought me to my knees to read how many of you felt what I was trying to say, especially when it took me over a year to learn to say it myself. I’m so happy, so honored, so blessed by every single one of you.

The post has been read thousands of times, shared hundreds and inspired the phrase “Let Them Be Dragons” across social media (and the kids are SO excited about that!). Please, keep sharing the message of love and change. Share it everywhere you can, to any ears that will listen. The world of tomorrow is already almost here, and we can do this. We can make LGBTQ discrimination a thing of the past as soon as tonight.

Please meet… THE DRAGONS.

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We sat them on the stairs for this picture, but then we were like screw it, CONFORMITY SUCKS, so we went outside.

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I think half of them are whipping in this picture and the other half are nae-nae-ing, but I don’t actually know what that means because I’m a mom, which by definition means I’m not cool enough to whip, nae-nae, Superman, Spiderman, Snap, Crackle, or Pop or whatever the hell else they’re doing in that dance.

You wouldn’t know, looking at them, that one of them is transgender.

Or that the seven of them come from five different sets of biological parents.

Or that two of them have ADHD.

Or that two of them were born at barely 4 pounds and will probably always be smaller than their peers.

Or that one of them has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Or that two are placed in our homes by social services.

Or that one was born in another country.

Yeah, they’re a pretty damn unique bunch, and Ireene and I are proud as hell of all seven of them. In their darkest moments, they are still the brightest stars, the most unique human beings, and they will be incredible, perfectly imperfect adults.

You wouldn’t know, looking at them, that if push came to shove, all seven of them would defend each other to their dying breaths.

Or that they’d defend any person being tormented and bullied for circumstances they can’t control like their appearance, their gender, or the color of their skin.

Or that they don’t even understand that someone would do something like that. They cannot comprehend it. They refuse to accept it. They simply do not see the stereotypes like we adults do.

You will hear these children say, “That guy over there. The one in blue jeans. With the white shoes. By the green truck. With the armful of groceries and the cute baby.”

You will never hear these children say, “That black guy over there. My gay friend. She’s the fat one. That autistic boy. Oh, she’s super poor.”

They don’t view people as these minute pieces of personality. They view people as whole beings, and they refuse to point out a person’s gender, racial, or social-class identity as the critical factor worth mentioning about their character.

These children are not “The kid with darker skin.”

They are not “Kids whose biological parents walked off.”

Or “The transgender kid.”

Nor are they “The ones with disabilities.”

Look at the children in those pictures. Pick one and look at him/her. Would you determine their value based on their color, their ability level, their gender, their normalcy? Would you conclude that they are worth less because of those things? Would you decide that any one of their differences made them unworthy of a happy, healthy, human life?

No. You’d better not, anyway. I think the kids would dogpile you for it and fart on you until you cried if you did.

They are so much more than that. They know it. We know it. We expect you to see more in them than that. And if they are more than their labels, then so is your child. So is your friend, your mother, your sister, your cousin. So are you.

These kids cannot wrap their heads around why we adults are so stupid in our judgments. Why gay people are still being refused marriage licenses by bigoted idiots. Why some of us hate each other because of our religion. Why wars happen. Why people of color are discriminated against. Or why women don’t walk alone at night. Why some people are shunned based on the head garment they wear, the brand of jeans they wear, or the accent in their voice, or the amount of makeup on their faces.

And the sad part of all this is…

They have to learn those things.

These amazing, incredible, unique children have already faced some huge challenges in their lives. Almost every child you meet has. And now we, the parents, have to brace them for the darkest, most haunting facts of life:

Some people will only see your disabilities, children. Some people will only see your gender identity. Some people will only see your body shape, your birthplace, your color, your wallet, your sexuality. Some people will discount the beautiful, powerful person you are inside based on the one thing they can find about you that they do not like. They will zero in on your most vulnerable place and scream out justifications like “religious freedom” and “the way we do things around here” and “conform to succeed.”

Some people may even attack you for those things, or block you from obtaining the bare necessities of life because of what you are. Because of things you never chose, things you were simply born with. Things that are not your fault but if you really look closely, actually make you more beautiful than you’d be without them.

Some people will hate you for those things as children, as adults, as elderly. Some people will hate you so deeply for it that they will try to stop everyone who shares your unique qualities from living a happy life. That they will try to stop you from feeling worthy of life at all.

Now if that isn’t absolutely fucking pathetic of us as the human race, then I don’t know what is.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe they don’t have to learn these things. What if tomorrow the child who has Aboriginal Canadian ancestry and darker skin woke up and did not need to fear that she’d be denied jobs in favor of her less-educated white peers? What if the children with disabilities didn’t have to fear they’d be judged harshly by their peers for physical and mental differences they did not choose for themselves? What if the girls did not need to fear they’d be one of the unacceptably high statistical numbers of females who will be raped in their lives?

What if the boys didn’t have to worry that if they are gay, they’ll be denied a safe place to live?

What if the transgender child could pee in the bathroom he felt comfortable peeing in, without being called out by his cis-gender peers based on the genitalia he was born with?

What if he didn’t need to worry he’d be beaten for his gender expression, thrown out of establishments, spit on, tormented, and called horrible, degrading names meant to make him feel less worthy of life?

God, I don’t want to teach him those words. Please don’t make me have to prepare him to feel the bone-deep sting of those words thrown at him in anger or fear.

Look at those children. Those incredible, shockingly loving Dragons.

Now think about the last person you judged because he or she was fat, biracial, queer, poor, jobless, ugly, disabled, practiced a different religion from you, or liked a different TV show than you. I’m looking at them. It hurts to think of the way we have judged others no matter the reason. We’re all guilty of judging someone for something, even if only in our heads. And we know in our hearts we can do better than we’re doing. Because those people we judge… they were once Dragons, too. And the world is trying to break them. We, the asshole adults of the modern world, are constantly trying to show each other that “I am better than you, and you are less valuable than me.”

These children see that one of them picks up video games faster than all six of the others combined… and then helps all the others learn to play.

And that they all swim like sharks.

And that when they do, their mothers often pounce on them, cling to them, and scream “KOALA! KOALA!” until the lifeguards yell at us to calm down and we all giggle like idiots.

And that they ALL randomly break into song at weirdly perfect moments.

And that occasionally, we have whipped cream fights. Once it was sour cream. Taco night, you know.

And that they are all talented, unique, incredible, sometimes-annoying little humans that they love having in each other’s’ lives.

They don’t have to be the next generation’s assholes-in-training. We can teach them it’s okay to love. We can teach them it’s okay to never lose that endless acceptance and the purity of childhood fun. Please, please do not let them grow angry, spiteful, and eager to pass blame.

Please don’t make me have to prepare my transgender child to feel the pain of those cruel words.

Let Them Be Dragons.

You’re raising happy, accepting Dragons too, I know it. Share your story with the world. #LetThemBeDragons, and show the world the accepting lens through which your children see the world. Maybe if we adults all shut up and listen to them for a while, we’ll start to see the world the way they do. Maybe we can start to see each other again for our unique selves instead of generalizing based on our color, gender, birthplace, or creed.

PHANTOM NIGHTS

Hey! Guess what? I’ve finally got the third book in the VESPER series coming out! It took me forever, so if you’ve been waiting for it I’m really sorry. It was a rough year, but I’m back in action now and ready to share Sychar and Samantha’s story with you.

But… I’d love some help spreading the word, if you’re up for it! If you have a blog and you’d like to help out or review one of the books in the series, please fill out the document below and I’ll be in touch!

New Story In The Core!

Great news… ENTICED (The Core: Alice, #1) is now free on Amazon as well as other venues! Check it out for zero pennies if you haven’t yet. This is Alice’s spinoff story from The Core, and it’s a steamy story told in parts just like Andee’s story.

And if you’re enjoying the spicy hot action of the first in Alice’s story, we’ve got more spice for you in SEDUCED (The Core: Alice, #2)!

Seduced Continue reading