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Month: February 2016

Talia Jane, Millennials, and Extremes

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The social justice hot topic of the moment in the United States comes to us straight from the the most hated generation to come of age since the cast members of Reality Bites could afford health insurance. As someone born in the tail end of Gen X, I have to say that I am grateful to Millennials for distracting the Baby Boomers from us, much in the way Ian Malcolm led the T-Rex away from Sam Neil and those kids in the overturned Jeep. I feel for you, Millennials, as most Gen Xers spent their early twenties similarly disparaged by a generation who continues to insist that if they could buy a house with cash at age twenty-four (when the average new home cost roughly $30,000.00), then so too should a Millennial be able to afford a new house in their twenties (despite the current price for a new home resting somewhere around the $200,000.00 mark). As someone whose Boomer in-laws gifted my husband and I with a book titled You’re Broke Because You Want To Be when we’d just lost our house, I keenly understand the frustration felt by a generation being held to wildly outdated standards.

And it’s clearly that frustration that led Talia Jane to write “An Open Letter To My CEO“. In it, Jane describes the extreme poverty she and other employees of Yelp, an internet company that enables anyone with a smartphone to become a pro-am food critic, experience while trying to live in the San Francisco area on a $12/hr salary. The responses to the article are divided into two camps of extreme opposites, with one side viewing Jane as a working class hero exposing the truth about wage inequality, and the other side painting her as a spoiled Millennial brat who doesn’t want to work hard to get ahead in life. Even fellow Millennials have roasted her, like Stephanie Williams, who boasted about her ability to overcome the same circumstances through hard work and commitment that sounds an awful lot like a combination of luck and privilege that Jane doesn’t share.

After seeing people I know, from every age group and walk of life, weigh in on Jane’s piece, I began to wonder if I was the only person standing firmly between those two unforgiving poles. Is it possible to view wage inequality and poverty as serious issues affecting our country, especially our youngest adults, while at the same time finding it difficult to praise Jane or her letter?

When I read Jane’s piece, I was with her on her overall point: if a company chooses to operate their business out of what is known to be the U.S. city with the highest cost of living, it should be obligated to pay its employees a living wage. I’ve seen a lot of people suggesting Jane should simply move to another city. It seems a simple solution, but on an annual salary of $24,000.00, the costs of moving would likely set her back even further. I’ve seen plenty of accusations of entitlement on Jane’s part–”just because she wants to live in the Bay area doesn’t mean she just gets to if she can’t afford it!”–but very few calling out Yelp. If we’re talking about entitlement here, doesn’t it stand to reason that the company that showed a $32.9 million net income last year should be the ones doing the moving? Is it not a gross display of blatant entitlement for a company to ask its employees to simply be grateful for their meager paychecks so the company can occupy desirable real estate? Since it began, Yelp has only shown a profit in 2014. Their revenue was down in 2015. If it’s too expensive for Talia Jane to live in San Fransisco, then can’t the same be said of Yelp?

On the other hand, the job Jane had with Yelp, while not paying a living wage, included benefits that many post-college jobs don’t. For example, the free food that starving employees ravaged. Jane’s complaint about these snacks not being stocked on the weekends likely seemed the pinnacle of entitlement to readers who not only don’t have break room food to scavenge, but who also watch their children go hungry on weekends because the only meals they get are their free–and meager–school lunches. I’m reminded of the woman I worked with at McDonald’s, who would take her free break meal home in her purse and divide up the medium fries and six piece nuggets between her two kids, while she went hungry. She was eventually fired when she was caught eating breakfast food she’d been asked to throw in the trash during changeover. Almost every working- and middle-class American has a story like that to share, either of their own experiences or someone else’s, so it’s no wonder that Jane’s complaint of not receiving the free food due to her on weekends was met with an extreme response.

Her Instagram account received similar criticism. Since January, Jane has posted photos of homemade cupcakes garnished with fresh mint and sliced fruit, expensive bourbon, and a steak dinner she made for a friend. The backlash against her was such that her Instagram account is now private, but someone was so irritated by the images that directly contradicted her claims of hunger pains and an all-rice diet that they now host screenshots of images taken from her account on, the domain name itself a withering condemnation. Jane has since explained that many of the meals pictured on her Instagram were given to her, and that she only posts positive images to her account. Who among us can say that we’ve never used social media to make our lives seem more pulled together or glamorous? If that’s one of Jane’s sins, it’s minor at best.

I bristle at the assertion that people living in poverty don’t deserve “luxury” items. Only five years ago I sat in the parking lot of a pawn shop, sobbing, because my engagement ring would fetch only $35.00, but it was a $35.00 that could feed us for several days. While I ultimately held on to the ring–damn my sentimentality–I came home to find that a politically conservative relative had made a passive aggressive Facebook post, cryptically alluding to this family she happened to know who claimed to need food stamps, but whose children had electronic devices. The devices she referred to had been given to my children by my mother-in-law for Christmas; that we couldn’t find it in our hearts to snatch them away from our kids so as to be poor correctly was considered a moral failing.

I don’t fault Jane for keeping her expensive bourbon; I do fault her for not making her Instagram private before she started this internet firestorm. By not doing so, the self-righteous arbiters of what strangers should be spending money on have further ammunition with which to discredit all poor people everywhere. The people who fully believe that poverty is simply living it up without obligation. The senators who insist that welfare and food stamp recipients should only eat rice and beans, rather than spend the tax payers’ hard earned dollars on steak and lobster (while cleverly ignoring the fact that, as government employees, the tax payers’ hard earned dollars are paying for every politician’s steak and lobster). Jane’s intent may have been to expose the reality of poverty, but she greatly exaggerated her circumstances by claiming that she’s only eating rice and barely staving off hunger pains. “Most of the food I eat is free from the break room or occasionally gifted to me by friends who can actually afford groceries,” would have been honest and less damaging to the coworkers who struggle right along with her. One wonders what will become of those break room goodies now that she’s revealed that employees routinely take them home at the end of the day.

Others have criticized Jane for her reckless actions, which resulted in her termination. Numerous unemployed people have criticized her for throwing away a job that “anyone” would be happy to have. Obviously, Jane was not happy to have the job; she had to know that the outcome of not only blasting the company CEO on Twitter (going so far as to suggest he fire her), but writing a scathing viral blog post, would end with unemployment. That’s her choice to make, but it is an objectively foolish one. If Jane was starving on $12/hr, how will that situation improve on $0/hr? She announced the news of her firing with handy links to places where people could send her money. It’s a shrewd choice; she’s already made more money by capitalizing on her viral fame than she would have in a month at Yelp, and this experience may lead to job offers that suit her better. But it’s hard to fault people for being cynical when one of Jane’s infamous Instagram photos is a text in which she bemoans the fact that she doesn’t have a big enough internet presence to induce people to send her money for nothing. While money-for-nothing is the dream of every American, it’s also the allegation made by those aforementioned enemies of the poor, who will now seize on Jane’s words as “proof” that all Millennials and all impoverished people are secretly lazy and horrible, and who could fix their circumstances entirely with bootstraps and elbow grease.

Further fueling that cynicism is Jane’s complaint at learning she would have to wait a year before being considered for a promotion. Of course that’s going to be met with scoffs and eye rolls. But at the same time, attacking Jane for getting a “useless” degree should be met with equal measures of disdain. Outside of STEM and medical fields, not many people find themselves in jobs directly relating to their college majors. Working at Yelp was probably not covered in Jane’s studies, but she landed the position, anyway. She’s obviously capable of finding employment despite the egregious burden of her “useless” college experience.

Does Jane’s original letter raise salient points about wage inequality in the United States? Absolutely. Does she still come off as entitled and dishonest about her circumstances? I think she does. Are all Millennials likewise exaggerating and embellishing valid complaints for dramatic effect? No, but if you’re one of the Gen Xers or Baby Boomers who eat up every click-bait article confirming that wrong opinion for you, your mind is already made up on that point. But can we move past the ideology that if a person is right about something, it automatically means their motives were righteous? Or that a person has to have righteous motives to point out what should be obvious in the first place?

Criticism of Jane’s piece shouldn’t be seen as an automatic denial of the serious economic failings in our country. But it’s entirely possible to point out the areas where Jane is right without making excuses to defend all the places where she’s wrong. Am I saying that Jane has no right to complain about her circumstances when there are other people in worse situations? No, that’s a silly belief for people to ascribe to, as there will always be someone who has it worse, and who may not be in a position to speak out against the inequalities that are holding them down. What I’m saying is that while it may seem that Jane has made heroic overtures in the battle for socioeconomic equality, uncritical defense of her open letter only advances Jane and destroys the credibility of other Millennials struggling to clear the poverty line. “See?” deniers will say. “None of them are really poor. And they clearly don’t need food stamps or student loan forgiveness when they can just make a GoFundMe.”

Millennials are no better or worse than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. Just like Monica Lewinsky is not every Gen Xer and Jeffrey Skilling is not every Baby Boomer, Talia Jane is not every Millennial. She’s also not the poster child for every impoverished worker in America, nor should she be. Until we’re willing to have nuanced conversations about the realities of poverty and the people affected by it, we won’t see any headway in correcting our attitudes toward it. That means that we must accept that if poor people can be as hardworking and honest as a rich person, then they can also be just as opportunistic and bend the truth as much as a rich person. Either way, no one deserves to struggle the way so many struggle in a nation that prides itself on its economic superiority. Not Talia Jane, and not anyone else, regardless of which generation they were born into.

Yes, there really is.

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A row of brown brick buildings, one of which is painted with a huge sign that says "The Kalamazoo Building"
The Kalamazoo Building (Photo: Jill M. Barry)

If you tell people you are from, or live near, Kalamazoo, Michigan, the response is usually, “I didn’t know that place existed for real.” That’s probably because “Kalamazoo” is a weird word, and I believe Bugs Bunny once took a wrong turn on his way to a carrot convention there. Glenn Miller made the town famous with the song “(I Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo)”.

If you’ve ever lived, worked, or even just visited Kalamazoo, you know the town slogan: “Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo!” Located exactly halfway between Detroit and Chicago, the city got its name from the Potawatomi people, whose name for the area was “boiling water”. I know this because it’s engraved on a lovely fountain on the downtown mall (the first pedestrian mall in the country). The fountain features a lovely bowl of gently burbling water at about chest height; I once got my friend Warnement to lean down to read the inscription, then used both hands to force the water out and over his head. He retaliated by later pushing me into the much larger fountain in Bronson Park.

Bronson Park all dressed up for Christmas. Lots of trees and more Christmas lights than reasonable.
Bronson Park (Photo: Jill M. Barry)

Every year, the park is turned into a Christmas wonderland (and the fountains are drained of water, making it a much safer time of year to go there with pushing-inclined friends), with each tree draped in lights. When I was a child, my grandparents would bundle me up and take me out to see the decorations, including the now retired Frosty the Snowman and giant candy canes. My friend Jill Barry got engaged under those same candy canes (we posed for her wedding pictures in front of the Kalamazoo sign downtown). Once, she and I saw a man wearing what appeared to be a suit of Christmas lights riding a bicycle (also covered with Christmas lights) through downtown. He turned off the street and headed into the park, and, being the holiday season, we knew we had no chance of finding him.

I met Jill and Lisa and Anna, my twenty-plus years BFFs, when I started as a freshman at Hackett Catholic Central High School. Living in my rural town twenty miles outside of the city, Kalamazoo was the place for me, where I spent much time roaming around with my friends and visiting the local coffee shops, Fourth Coast and Boogie’s. Boogies had a wall you could write and draw on in their loft; Fourth Coast stank of cigarettes and you could always find a game of hearts. My first date was at the now-torn down movie theatre at the West Main mall; my first backseat adventure with a boy was in the driveway of the Soccer Complex.

Me and my friend Jill on some bleachers, an inflatable skeleton between us. I'm wearing a vintage Gunne Sax dress, Jill is wearing a mechanic's shirt with patches. It was the '90s.
Me and Jill Barry in the gym at Hackett, with Jill’s inflatable skeleton, Beauregard. I’m on the left. (Photo: Anna Walls)

My first apartment in Kalamazoo was in a basement on Rose street, where people would routinely knock on our ground-level kitchen window and inquire as to whether Ray-Ray was home. I don’t know who Ray-Ray was, but he was popular. The location was great for me, as it wasn’t a very long walk to the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, where I played Annelle in a production of Steel Magnolias, and a milkmaid in Oliver!. Over the years, my involvement in Kalamazoo theatre included stage roles and tech jobs at both the Civic and The Whole Art, the former a grand 1920s building with a resident ghost, the latter a black box with leaky basement dressing rooms cordoned off with sheets and laundry lines.

An upward angled-shot of First Presbyterian, a gothic cathedral with a rose window.
First Presbyterian Church (Photo: Jill M. Barry)

Kalamazoo was a great place to live as a young adult. Being irresponsible and flaky as I am, I had jobs all over the city. Mostly retail and food service, briefly at Borgess hospital (where my first novel, Blood Ties Book One: The Turning was inspired) and a nursing home. My move from Rose street to Nichols and West Main necessitated a lot of bike riding to get to the two jobs I needed to keep my $500 a month second apartment at The Landings. I’ll never forget the morning I finally managed to ride my bike all the way up the unbelievably steep Westnedge hill without stopping; a guy slowed his car, opened his window, and shouted encouragement at me all the way.

World of Shoe (Photo: Jill M. Barry)
World Of Shoe, the now closed store with the best name ever (Photo: Jill M. Barry)

Now that I am a boring adult, Kalamazoo is the place where I go to concerts at venues like The State Theatre, or where Mr. Jen and I go on dates. Our son attended preschool and kindergarten at St. Augustine, which, despite its spelling, is always pronounced “August-IN” instead of “AugustTINE,” and to which we add the ubiquitous Michigan possessive ‘s. Mr. Jen works in Kalamazoo. Many of our friends still live there.

Over the weekend, a mass shooting took place in Kalamazoo. A man drove around the city, indiscriminately killing people in their cars between picking up Uber fairs. Seven people were killed, ten were injured.  Most were women and children. I guess, considering the climate of the United States with regards to gun violence, it was only a matter of time before it happened close to home. But I’ve made this post not to talk about the tragedy, but to share just a handful of my memories of the city, and show a side of Kalamazoo that is both weird and wonderful. A city where the local library once had a real mummy in a sarcophagus just kind of sitting out in the children’s reading room (the mummy was later moved to the old Kalamazoo Valley museum upstairs, and later to the new museum; they made an episode of Reading Rainbow about her). A place brutally hit by an F3 tornado in 1980, and which later adopted the tragedy as a point of pride, going so far as to host a semi-pro football team called the Kalamazoo Tornadoes. The birthplace of Gibson Guitars and the Checker Taxi. One of the most important craft beer scenes in the U.S., where many restaurants offer their own microbrews, and home of Bell’s brewery, known world wide for its Oberon, Two Hearted Ale, and Hopslam beers. A college town that can claim alumni Tim Allen, Terry Crews, Bruce Campell, Marin Mazzie and Luther Vandross (Western Michigan University), as well as Steven Yeun, Selma Blair, and Ty Warner (Kalamazoo College), among others.

It will continue to thrive and survive, and be the place that nobody thinks is real. But yes, there really is a Kalamazoo, and it is so much more than one horrific Saturday reported in the media.

Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun: Sunday, May 22, 2011 or “I’m not sure this whole day-by-day instead of chapter numbers thing is practical PART ONE”

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Since the original intended release date of Fifty Shades Darker the movie has come and gone, news is starting to roll out about the sequel. Dakota Johnson wants Jamie Dornan to take it all off, full frontal style, and though she may just be joking, it does seem only fair. Major roles have been cast, including Kim Basinger as Elena Lincoln, and filming is apparently underway. They’re going to do the final books in the trilogy back to back, and are now describing them as “thrillers” and talking up how “scary” they’ll be. I think we all knew it was going to be scary, just not in the way the studio is hyping it.

Now, let’s all place our bets on whether or not the final book will be split into two unnecessarily dragged out pieces, in keeping with the Twilight rip-off theme.

If you’re reading along with my Fifty Shades of Grey recaps, this chapter will cover chapters eight and nine.

Also, CW: There’s like, a lot of gross pedophilia vibe in this thing. Although at this point, everyone should just assume that all content warnings ever apply to this stupid fucking book.

Also, Also: Welcome to yet another enormous chapter that I’ll break up into parts, since nobody at the publisher could be arsed to.

Legion XIII Rome watch-along S01E12: “Kalends of February” or “This is like when I made them watch Game of Thrones”

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A picture of a big roman number XIII, in front of an ominous sky, in the middle of a road through a field. In the crotch of the X, I, dressed as a centurion, naturally, am slumped over, sleeping. Bronwyn Green, dressed in a stola, is looking nervously at a harp, and Jess is depicted as the woman with a bloody knife from the DVD cover of season 2.

Let me tell you a story, gentle reader.

Once upon a time, I convinced Jess and Bronwyn to watch Game of Thrones. I had already seen the series through its fourth season. So when season three rolled around, I savored their tears and horror like the finest of wine.

That same thing happened this week and it was glorious.

Quick rundown of the episode: Titus Pullo wakes up in the hospital to find out that he’s famous in Rome. He thinks he better cash in on that, and despite being slashed all to hell and back, tries to ride for the city.

The Vorenus family visits the farmland they’ve just been granted, and as part of some kind of weird Roman blessing, Lucius and Niobe totally bone on the ground in front of their kids. When they get home, they find out that Pullo has returned. Nobody is thrilled to see him, least of all Eirene, who decides to murder him in the night. He wakes up and tells her it’s cool if she kills him, but Niobe stops her and tells her it’s stupid to murder him because she’d get caught. Instead, Niobe lets Eirene take over care duties for Pullo, which ends up with him eating an impressive quantity of spit.

Pullo eventually finds a way to escape from the Vorenus household in the hope of cashing in on his fame. But he’s not very famous, and when he brings a woman back to the apartment, he feels bad, anyway. He eventually tells Eirene that he’s going to go to some shrine to ask for forgiveness. He asks Eirene if she thinks the gods will forgive him, and she’s like, whatever, they do what they want. But he invites her to go to the shrine with him, anyway. She follows him out of the city, but not like, in a “let’s travel together” way.

Caesar decides it’s a super idea to make a bunch of Gauls and Celts senators. And people are not happy. So instead of disciplining Lucius Vorenus, Caesar is like, hey, you should be a senator. So that means you need some OJT. Just follow me around. All the time. Definitely do not leave me even just to go to the bathroom. But his wife is still pretty freaked out when she has a bad dream about birds.

Servilia and Brutus have gone full-on serial killer, praying in front of a wall of death masks, asking their ancestors for special murder powers or something. But they don’t need them; Servilia remembers the secret Octavia managed to get from Octavian, about how Lucius Vorenus believes his wife’s son is his grandson. They can use that information to distract Vorenus and get him away from Caesar for long enough to assassinate him.

Senate is going to be in session, so Caesar, flanked by Lucius Vorenus, heads through town. Servilia’s slave stops Vorenus and whispers something in his ear. And it totally works; he takes off back to his house, leaving Caesar unprotected.

So, then you know what happens in the senate. But while it’s happening, Servilia has invited Atia over to hang out. Octavian has gone with his mother. In the senate there a stabbing frenzy and a whole bunch of blood and a really gruesome scene that once again makes me suspect that the sound guys blew through at least thirty percent of this shows budget just buying melons to stab. But basically, it’s brutal, and they hack Caesar to fucking death and it’s awful. But it’s Brutus who delivers the death blow (obviously), and they forgo the “Et tu” line. Mark Antony arrives too late and wisely backs out of the senate slowly, but he gives everyone a hardcore murder glare.

Vorenus wrecks up their house while Niobe screams and asks what’s going on. She admits the kid is hers, and tells him that she thought he was dead. Which, you know. Honestly, how do you not forgive that? While Vorenus contemplates killing Niobe, or maybe himself, it’s hard to tell, Niobe tells him it’s not the kid’s fault, then throws herself backward off the balcony, spitting her melon all over the courtyard. But it doesn’t make a melon sound, because at this point the melon budget was all used up. While Vorenus cradles Niobe’s dead body in his arms, her son walks in.

Servilia gloats about her triumph to a near-catatonic Atia who doesn’t have a single card left to play. Servilia tells Atia that she’s not going to kill them specifically that day, but she is going to enact this long as fuck revenge on her. Atia keeps her shit together, but just barely.

The episode closes with Pullo doing his penance at the shrine, while Eirene watches and, judging from the hand-holding into the sunset that precedes the end credits, forgives him for that whole “you murdered the man I love” thing pretty quick.

My favorite part of the episode: The entire last quarter of it. It’s so tense. Obviously almost everyone watching this knows how it’s going to end for Caesar, but the first time I watched this, I freaked out the moment the guys stopped Mark Antony from going into the senate. I was so caught up in the show, I completely forgot how shit was going to go down. I looked at Mr.Jen and said, “OHMYGODIT’SGOINGTOHAPPENRIGHTNOW!” And I still feel that way, every single time. It’s just as shocking on the tenth viewing as it was on the first.

My least favorite part of the episode: I loathe the way Niobe dies. You know from the second you see her breastfeed that baby at the beginning of the season that some bad shit is going to go down, but I just…ugh. Things were going so well for her and Vorenus.

Favorite costume: They really let Eirene shine in this one. Specifically, her hair:

Eirene has long brown hair that's curly, and she's wearing what look likes a long strip of gauze wrapping around her hair like multiple headbands.

Team Atia or Team Servilia: Have to give it to Servilia this week. Calling someone to your house so you can watch their reaction to their family member being murdered and their place in society dashed all to hell and back is the coldest thing imaginable.

Until next season.

Favorite watch-a-long tweet: 


I drink the TV induced tears of my friends like fine wine.

What hairdo or costume would Bronwyn steal? Honestly, I think she’s with me on Eirene’s hair this week.

Guess Jess’s head canon. First of all, it’s good to see the boys together again. Vorenus is going to need someone to lean on now that tragedy has struck.

Now go check out Bronwyn’s and Jess’s posts, and join us Monday at 9 PM EST for season two, episode one, “Passover”. Tweet to #LegionXIII to join us!

Come look at this cute dog!

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Are you in the New York-ish kind of area? Because this little buddy:

Black and white American Staffordshire Terrier, about 1 year oldis looking for a forever home. Yes, I tricked you into looking at an adoption post. I lured you in with the cute dog hook.

That’s right, this adorable little guy wants to be in your heart forever and ever. Right now, he’s living with some foster people. But look at his face. He wants to love YOU.

His foster family says:

His name is Arnold, and he’s one year old. Jess and I are watching him for a while to help with his leash training and his manners training (he is neutered and housebroken, as Jess reminded me). But he is a love who wants to be your dog.

After he got settled at our place and comfortable, he showed that he wants to learn and be a good boy. He quickly learned to sit and wait for his food, and to wait before he enters the apartment. At first, he’d jump up to say hi, but he’s learned those aren’t good manners, and he’s now doing better.

On walks, he’s doing a very good job already with learning to heel, and he’s been a conscientious walker! He still pulls to go and see dogs, but we’re working with him to move away from that behavior.

He’s very snuggly and very playful, but also very gentle to his friends. Even when we’re playing tug of war with his chewie rope, he never nips or bites.

In short: this dog is awesome. You want this dog. He will be your best friend.

Look at this big stupid smile:

Same black and white American Staffordshire terrier, smiling like the biggest, cutest thing ever.


If you’re interested (or you know someone who is) and want to get in contact with Arnold’s foster family, please email me at the address on my contact page, and I’ll put you in touch with them. I assume no responsibility for any other part of the process, I’m just the middleman.

And yes, I do have a soft-spot for this dog because he looks just like mine. I really can’t be blamed for that, can I?


State Of The Trout: BRIDE OF THE WOLF and a new multi-author newsletter and Facebook group

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Good Tuesday, everybody!

Quick announcement for romance/erotic romance readers: S.A. Price, Milly Taiden, Julie Morgan, Bianca Sommeland, TJ Michaels, Tilly Greene, Diana Castilleja, AD Roland, Marianne Morea, Sasha White and I have formed a multi-author mailing list and Facebook group where you can get news about our new releases and other authorly goings-on. It’s a great way to check out what’s happening and maybe find some new authors you might like. You can join the brand new Facebook group right here, and find information about the newsletter there, too.


My 2011 novella, Bride Of The Wolf, is available again! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance with shape shifters, historical romance with paranormal elements, or romances with disabled heroes, this book should be right up your alley.

A woman in a medieval dress that is probably NOT the correct time period, with the words "Bride Of The Wolf" in a big, medievalish font.


Betrothed to the heir of Lord Canis, Aurelia finds herself thrown to the wolves. The Canis Clan are no ordinary warriors, but beasts raging beneath the skin of men. Their name chills the heart of every man in Britannia, though the heart of one maiden may be saved… 

Once a mighty warrior in high esteem among the Clan, Sir Raf Canis knows all too well the dangers Aurelia will face in her new role as Lady of Blackens Gate. Tasked with the humiliating errand of delivering his brother’s intended, Raf instead finds himself fighting for her life–and falling into an impossible love that he cannot deny. 

Content Warning: This book contains ableist language and attitudes in the context of its historical setting, as well as mentions of suicide, which may be triggering or upsetting to some readers. 



Fifty Shades of Friendship and Raw, Pounding Togetherness

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Today is Valentine’s Day, the day when we celebrate love and romance and, if numerous shadowy complications hadn’t arisen for the embattled franchise, a day when we we should have been not enjoying ourselves at a hate screening of Fifty Shades Darker. But we live in a cruel world in which we were robbed of that outcome. What do we do in the meantime?

We watch Fifty Shades of Grey together.

Here’s how it works:

You download this MP3. It’s me, watching the movie and making frustrated, disbelieving comments about how stupid it is. To be absolutely clear: this is not a Wizard People, Dear Reader version of Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s not a MST3K style parody. It’s just me, watching the movie, complaining, making snarky asides, and at one point rolling a j and toking up while doing those things. Think of it as a DVD commentary made by someone who not only was never involved with the project, but who also holds said project in the highest contempt.

You somehow procure the unrated version of Fifty Shades of GreyYou can either buy the DVD or the streaming video, or do that thing I’m never supposed advocate on my blog ever, because it makes me just as bad as a war criminal or something. But you know what I’m totally not driving at. Whatever method you choose, just make sure that you’re using the unrated, extended cut.

Start the MP3 when when the Focus logo starts to fade. The Focus logo has a little two-chord tune, and as soon as it ends, the logo begins to dim. If you hit “play” on the MP3 right then, the movie and the MP3 should exist in beautiful harmony together.

And that’s it. The experience of viewing Fifty Shades of Grey as though I were in your home, loudly bitching about pretty much every scene (although there are times when I get caught up in actually watching it, because I’m trash).

Have a happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

#LegionXIII Rome watch along S01E11, “The Spoils” or “An Officer And A Gentleman”

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A picture of a big roman number XIII, in front of an ominous sky, in the middle of a road through a field. In the crotch of the X, I, dressed as a centurion, naturally, am slumped over, sleeping. Bronwyn Green, dressed in a stola, is looking nervously at a harp, and Jess is depicted as the woman with a bloody knife from the DVD cover of season 2.

Quick rundown of the episode: Pullo has become a the happy humming murderer, in the employ of Erastes Fulmen. He’s spending his days basically murdering and getting high. Meanwhile, Vorenus is doing his magistrate duties, which clearly bore him. A friend from the XIII is back in town to cause trouble. And basically everyone feels the Vorenus family has forgotten that they didn’t used to have such a nice apartment with so many slaves, including the soldiers who served with Lucius, who now want a reward from Caesar for helping make them emperor.

There is a lot of controversy over a new chair Caesar bought. Oh, and the fact that he’s now officially dictator for life. There are drawings all over the city of Brutus stabbing the shit out of Caesar, and basically all Brutus’s mother’s friends are like, “You probably need to stab Caesar.”

Atia throws a party, and Caesar invites Niobe, who shows up in a dress Atia describes as “vulgar”. The shine is coming off the whole “my husband, the magistrate” thing for poor Niobe.

Pullo murders a guy in broad daylight and gets caught, so he ends up on trial. Which isn’t great, but there’s nothing anybody can really do about it, since the guy he murdered is openly anti-Caesar, and if Octavian or Vorenus or Caesar himself intervened, it would look like Caesar is getting his fingers into the criminal justice system to off his political enemies. Pullo’s lawyer is crap, so he’s condemned to the arena. At first, he refuses to fight, but the gladiators provoke him by talking shit about the XIII. Then he becomes an absolute killing machine. Vorenus watches tearfully from the sidelines, until it’s pretty clear Pullo isn’t going to beat the final boss. Vorenus charges into the arena, finishes the boss battle, and helps Pullo out.

Caesar decides that since Brutus is depicted as his assassin on literally every wall in Rome, maybe it’s a good idea to send Brutus to Macedonia. They have a huge fight, and Brutus tells Caesar there’s no way he’s going to be sent away to Macedonia for a year. He goes home and tells him mom that, yeah, it’s time to kill Caesar.

My favorite part of the episode: How does one even get over Vorenus storming into the arena to rescue Pullo? Or the pain on Vorenus’s face as he’s watching his friend somehow manage to take on gladiator after gladiator.

My least favorite part of the episode: Brutus’s turn to the dark side (or light, from a certain point of view). You know it’s coming, but I felt like Brutus’s arc didn’t get as much attention from the script as other characters did, and his is arguably one of the most interesting storylines in the show. I wish we could have seen his motivation develop more gradually, and in more than one or two scenes per episode.

Favorite costume:  Niobe’s dress. I don’t see what’s wrong with it, either.

Niobe's dress is olive green with a lot of gold embroidery and embellishments


Team Atia or Team Servilia: Atia, because she’s banging James Purefoy again, which makes her the winner, no contest.

Favorite watch-a-long tweet: 

What hairdo or costume would Bronwyn steal? I don’t know that she would steal any of these costumes, necessarily, but I’m betting she covets many of the fine textiles in this family portrait:

The Vorenus family has pulled out all the stops. Everyone is in a different, bright color, and they're all wearing much nicer clothes than when the series started out.

Guess Jess’s head canon. The Jarmada sailed, every ship with its sails unfurled, during the arena scene and Pullo’s subsequent rescue.

Now go check out Bronwyn’s and Jess’s posts, and join us Monday at 9 PM EST for season one, episode eleven, “The Kalends of February”. Tweet to #LegionXIII to join us!

Re-release news and cover reveal: BRIDE OF THE WOLF

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Some of you have asked about a few of my past releases that aren’t available for purchase anymore. Well, that’s because the publishing rights for some of my novellas have reverted to me, and several of them will be re-released as refurbished self-pub titles.

The first of these is Bride of the Wolf, a paranormal historical romance, which releases Tuesday, February 16th:

A woman in a medieval dress that is probably NOT the correct time period, with the words "Bride Of The Wolf" in a big, medievalish font.

Betrothed to the heir of Lord Canis, Aurelia finds herself thrown to the wolves. The Canis Clan are no ordinary warriors, but beasts raging beneath the skin of men. Their name chills the heart of every man in Britannia, though the heart of one maiden may be saved…

Once a mighty warrior in high esteem among the Clan, Sir Raf Canis knows all too well the dangers Aurelia will face in her new role as Lady of Blackens Gate. Tasked with the humiliating errand of delivering his brother’s intended, Raf instead finds himself fighting for her life–and falling into an impossible love that he cannot deny.

Bride of The Wolf will be available on Amazon and Smashwords on Tuesday, February 16th, other retailers to follow.