Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, followers! I hope that you get some time today to spend with your loved ones, whether that be with a significant other, family members or a quality day to spend pampering yourself.

I really hope that this will not include spending your money supporting the romanticization of relationship abuse. At this point, I probably don’t even have to name the film I’m talking about, but I am breaking my posting schedule today to voice my support for the #50ShadesisAbuse awareness campaign. As this topic has already been discussed at length, I will simply post links to some of the best arguments I’ve found against the film, and why you should not support the continued popularity of the material if you value the lives of battered and abused individuals.

Please consider donating what money you would spend on the film today on the battered women’s shelters, anti-domestic violence organizations, or anti-sex trafficking organization of your choice. I personally donate 10% of the author royalties my first novel to SafeHouse Denver. If you weren’t planning on seeing the film in the first place, consider donating anyways (even just the price of a movie ticket) because these kinds of places and organizations could use every bit of help they can get!

Fifty Shades of Abuse Blog– A chapter-by-chapter analysis of the book, pointing out specific instances of abuse and why it is classified as abuse

End Sexual Exploitation- The origin of the #50dollarsnot50shades campaign, that urges you to donate 10, 20, or 50 dollars to local shelters/organizations, complete with a helpful list of places that could use your money to help women in real life ’50shades’ relationships.

           A Tumblr Post That Superimposes Actual Quotes From the Book Over The Movie Poster– I read these out loud to my wonderful significant other, and he immediately made gagging noises.

50 Shades Is Abuse Twitter Campaign

The Academy of Women’s Health: An insightful post from an organization made up of physicians, nurses, and other health professions about how 50 Shades romanticizes sexual violence and emotional abuse against women.

As a recovering victim of both sexual and emotional abuse, I ask you to please not support media that directly supports the perpetuation of those vicious cycles today. This author, this woman, cannot condone it. In fact, I ended up writing ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, which deals directly with the romanticization of abuse in the mythos of Beauty and the Beast, in part as a response to this kind of media. I beg you to join the boycott, and send the message to today’s media that today’s society will not pay for its own degradation.

This Valentine’s Day, spend your time cherishing your loved ones. Don’t waste it ensuring that vulnerable men and women, searching and seeking for real, true love, learn that abuse will be the best that they can accept. #50ShadesisAbuse.

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Five-Star Review: “Never Settle for a Fairy-tale”

Want to start from the beginning of the Once Upon a Reality series? Kristen A. Scearce has given ‘Till the Last Petal Falls a five-star review: 

 

During my Psychology classes in college, we discussed how various characters have psychological issues: popular cartoon characters, the cast of “Winnie the Pooh,” and the vast majority of the Disney Princesses. Belle is no exception, and this book explores that idea beautifully, no pun intended.

Jolee answers a Craigslist ad which sounds too good to be true, and she finds herself in the mountains of Aspen, tutoring a shut-in with some very serious issues of his own. As time goes by, she learns [more] and more about this man, and most of it is not good. However, she sticks by him, hoping to “fix” him with her love.

Sound like a recipe for disaster?

I used to teach a rehabilitation class for men convicted of domestic violence, and this book definitely delves into that dynamic head-first. It’s a real eye-opener into the lives of those involved in those situations, from both sides of the coin as well as an outsider’s perspective. Comparing it to the story of “Beauty and the Beast” really adds a whole new layer to it, as most of us either grew up with that story/movie or fell in love with it because of our kids/grandkids/etc. It’s a crazy thought, but the more you think about it, the more you realize Belle suffered from Stockholm syndrome as well as battered-woman syndrome, and that HEA Disney ending is not the one generally associated with those situations.

Bravo to the author for writing this cross-examination of a beloved children’s story and shedding some light on this serious issue while also maintaining a gripping novel.

 

 

Thank you, Kristin! Remember, you can still get a copy of Till the Last Petal Falls in either paperback or e-book format, as well as the second installment of the series, To Dwell in Dreams.

 

 As always, I appreciate any and all reviews of my work, posted on Amazon, B&N or Goodreads- it helps me as an author to see what I’m getting right, and what I still need to work on with my next project. 

On Donating Royalties

The first quarter for my first novel has ended, and I’ve gotta say I think I’ve done decently well. It’s sitting at a 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, a 5 star rating on Barnes & Noble and a 4.5 out of 5 on Goodreads. Online, through my publisher and through reviews and consignment acquisitions, I’ve gotten about fifty some books out there, floating around. Not the thousands that every author dreams of, but I’m pretty proud of myself. For this quarter, I get the quarter-royalty for about twenty or so of those books. Which brings me to the point of my post- I have committed myself to donating 10% of my royalties every quarter to help locally combat domestic violence, with the first effort being through donating to SafeHouse Denver*. This quarter, however, that comes out to about a dollar.

Now I don’t want to be a liar- I’ve committed myself to this entirely. So I don’t want to not donate anything for this quarter. But I also doubt the effectiveness of donating a dollar. I considered combining quarters until I had a suitable amount of royalty to donate. However, I recognize the kind of trap that can lead me into, morally. I also believe that would be rather petty of me, in the long run.

So here is the solution I have come to, currently: At the end of every quarter, I will donate a base amount of $10, regardless how many copies of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls sells. (Hopefully, after I graduate college and have a more stable career, I will be able to increase that base amount.) Starting with this royalty period, I will begin to keep track of how much my royalties amount to, how much that would mean donation wise, and will collaborate this with how much was donated and to where each period. I want to be entirely upfront about how, when, where, what and why I am donating right from the get go.

If you’re interested in donating to the organization directly yourself, feel free to click on the link provided above. Remember, 10% of all author royalties from ‘Till the Last Petal Falls will be donated to support local battered women’s services in Colorado (or a base donation of $10 every quarter).  If you want some other ideas on how to donate, or support the fight against violence in relationships, click on any (or all) of these links:

Hopeline: Donate old/unused cellphones to be refurbished and distributed to victims, as well as awarding cash grants to domestic violence organizations

Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Strengthens shelters and programs throughout Colorado (the author’s home state, and the setting of the novel)

Men Stopping Violence:  Engaging Men in creating safer communities for women and girls

SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone):  Helping those who are otherwise overlooked in the fight against domestic violence, including straight men, GLBT victims, teens and the elderly.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

More links to these organizations, and many other organizations like them, can be found here on the Family Tree website. If you have an organization that you favor or donate to regularly, why not mention it in the comments so that me and other followers of this blog can see it?

We can all make a difference.

*Donations to SafeHouse Denver

will be entirely made out of the author’s own free will.

This does not constitute any endorsement

by said organization to ‘Till the Last Petal Falls. 

Why I Write: About Abusive Relationships

I’ve promised to write this post for a long time, and I honestly thought it would be easier to do. However, the past couple of times I’ve tried to sit down and write this, I’ve ended up gravitating away from my computer in a kind of act of self-preservation. You’d think, having just finished and published an entire novel about abusive relationships, I wouldn’t have this kind of aversion to it. It just goes to show, it never gets easier.

For those of you who have read or heard about my first novel, ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, you might know that it uses the classic fairytale, Beauty & the Beast, as a lens through which to analyze an abusive relationship. Through this, I show a couple of my own theories regarding societal views of abuse, and attempt to accurately portray the real-time feelings of an abused woman.

Now, I wish I could say that that experience was entirely fabricated. To be honest, however, I probably wouldn’t have written the novel if it had been. As it is, I remember reading about abusive relationships when I was younger and in the midst of abuse, and not really caring. Abuse didn’t happen to people like me- middle class, blonde-hair-light-eyes white girls with decent families and good grades. It wouldn’t really be until I got into college, and began talking to other survivors of abusive relationships that I realized that that is what I had been in- several abusive relationships, one after the other, in a vicious cycle that lasted years.

My mother has admitted her own fear that her practice of corporeal punishment on me as a small child might have predisposed me to seeing physical punishment as being more normal for ‘deviant’ behavior, but I knew the difference between a spanking, and what was being done to me. I didn’t ‘float away’, or mentally shut down as it was happening. I was entirely present- but I still didn’t believe that what was happening was abuse. I will not go into gross detail as to what happened, or how, or how long. As it is, it is enough to admit that some of the things that happen in my novel happened to me- whether they got downplayed or had details changed in transit to a fictional narrative. violence

I never planned on writing about my experiences. And why would I? The memories made me feel physically ill. I wasn’t a huge fan of talking about it- mostly because I didn’t want to admit that it had happened, whether it was admitting it to myself, or to others. I opened up to my friends first, and years later would finally admit what had happened to my mother. She cried, a lot. Like me, she couldn’t imagine that something like this would happen to someone like me.

It’s that kind of mentality that I wanted to address first, when writing this novel. The idea that abuse only happens to certain kinds of people. First of all, no one deserves abuse. Saying that ‘someone like me’ couldn’t be hurt is on the same coin as ‘someone not like me’ is more likely, or more deserving, of this kind of treatment. So my protagonist was to come from a good family, be a good, smart girl, and good-looking. I also wanted to address the idea that there is only ‘one kind’ of abuse. There are at least four abuse victims, of both genders, in ‘Till the Last Petal Falls. If you’ve read it, did you recognize them all?

When I read stories about abusive relationships in high school, it seemed like the abuse was either always happening to small children, troublemaking teens, or older, married women. Not straight-A teenagers in a higher end neighborhood, like me. The victim always knew what was happening to them, recognized it as abuse, but kept on going because they ‘loved’ the abuser enough, or trusted them. While I know that this can be the experience of some victims, I knew that part of the problem with me recognizing that what had happened to me was abuse was that I had never seen abuse framed in the way it happened to me before. I just kept taking the advice of my similarly young and naïve friends: love him more, and he will change. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to ask for help, and no one knew how to ask me if anything was wrong.

In my experience, hundreds of victims are silenced and kept from speaking out about their abuse due to several factors. One, the stigma of being a victim. There is still a lingering idea in society that abuse victims, and rape victims, deserve the violence they get. Why complain when the rest of the world is telling you that you got what you deserved? Two, the stereotype of a victim.  I was stuck in the mentality that abuse ‘couldn’t happen to me’. I can’t tell you how many more people I’ve encountered who never spoke up because of the same idea- female on female abusive relationships, one-sided love abuse, female on male abuse, male on male abuse, child on parent abuse… the list goes on. Three, the horror of abuse tends to lead support systems to try to find any other reason for the abuser’s behavior that doesn’t point to abuse. Case in point, I had been trying to get advice, and help, only several months into the abuse. Every time, my friends and adult confidants tried to explain away the behavior of my attackers. They didn’t want to face the horror of abuse themselves, and so put it back on me- the bringer of ‘bad news’- and successfully, for many years, convinced me that the beatings I had been enduring were not, in fact, abuse.

So I endeavored to write a story that would share some of the things that I’ve learned about myself in the most accessible way that I knew how- by manipulating the stories that we know and love, to let them be a comfort for the reader as they delve in some of the darker aspects of their own reality, in order to bring up new questions surrounding what many people mistakenly believe to be a ‘dead subject’. I know that my experience is not ‘the’ experience for abuse victims. Every victim reacts, protects themselves, and heals in different ways. It is my hope, however, that by adding my voice to the crowd that I would be able to foster more discussion about how to prevent abuse, how to detect abuse, and how to live on after being a victim. The novel itself was created to raise awareness, while the donated royalties will serve to support organizations locally who are using their own unique gifts and resources to ensure that not one more man, woman or child is allowed to be abused in our society without justice being found. My hope is that by sharing this story, even if it is fiction, we can continue this conversation about abusive relationships without shame or stigma.

In wrapping up this post, I would simply leave with a polite request that my readers not ask me to delve into specifics about my own experience with abuse. What I have put in my novel is what I am comfortable with sharing. If I wish to tell more at any time, it is my decision to do so. I only ask that you respect my decision, both in sharing as much as I have about my history of abuse and my refusal to share more, from here on out.

God Bless.