Welcome to the longest FAQ on the planet. Now with a soupçon of snark.
Q.) Why is CRIMINAL INTENTIONS one series on Amazon, but two on Goodreads?
A.) Because that’s how Goodreads wants to do it and I can’t stop them. They have their own way of categorizing/classifying things. The way it’s listed on Amazon is the correct series listing — it’s all one series divided into seasons, all listed on the same series page, much like how with a TV show on Netflix or Amazon you have a single series page and then can navigate by seasons. I’m not sure why GR does it differently, but…well, it’s their website, their rules. It bugs me a little, as I’ve seen people get really confused as to how many books are in the series with it split into separate series pages, but there’s nothing I can do to change it.
Q.) …why are you multiple people?
A.) Genre differentiation – so you know what you’re getting by the name on the cover. Xen is for SFF and horror; Cole is for contemporary romance and erotica.
Q.) So why did you change your screen names and domain?
A.) Universal platform. Felt weird having everything under Cole while building an increasing presence as Xen. Needed something more broadly applicable for a single brand.
Q.) So is Xen your real name?
A.) No, but it’s pretty close. It’s a variant of an old university nickname.
Q.) Then what should I call you?
A.) I’ll answer to either Xen or Cole, but most just call me X. It’s simpler. And I like it better because it’s like…X, intersection, crossroads. It’s where my multiple marginalizations and facets of myself meet.
Q.) Why are comments on your blog closed?
A.) Because people were sending me death threats and telling me to kill myself over the Riptide thing, then acting like they won some kind of bizarre argument when I wouldn’t let their comments through moderation, claiming I was “silencing” them.
The blog I maintain on a site I pay to register and host is not a democracy, and if I don’t want to allow comments that are literally demanding a QTPOC’s death, then I don’t have to. Sorry. Get your rocks off elsewhere.
Q.) So back to your books. Will [X book] be available in print?
A.) If it’s any of my self-published work, yes. I don’t always release print editions at the same time as e-book, but print usually goes live within a few months of digital release. If it’s a publisher, that’s at the publisher’s discretion, but so far both my publisher books are available in print. Just…I’m tired, overworked, very slow right now, so paperbacks are massively delayed, but they’re coming.
Q.) Are all your books set in the same universe?
A.) With the exception of From the Ashes/the Fires of Redemption series, yes.
Q.) …wait what you’re telling me stuff like Criminal Intentions and Shatterproof are set in the same universe
A.) Yep. Just because those in the contemporary/real-world stories aren’t aware of the existence of the supernatural doesn’t mean it’s not there in the backdrop of their lives, out of sight and out of mind.
Q.) Why not From the Ashes, then?
A.) Because the mutants in the Fires of Redemption series are in the open and well-known. If there were mutants on TV threatening Congress in Malcolm and Seong-Jae’s world, I think they’d notice it — and they’d probably be working a lot more aberrant-related cases. So that one universe is separate. But the others are interconnected in small ways — like the fact that Drake Anderson is both Ion Blackwell’s agent in A Second Chance at Paris and Grey Jean-Marcelin’s agent in Shatterproof, and in The Found Vin Manion has some of Grey’s art on his walls.
Q.) I don’t get the Crow City prequel novellas. There’s no romance, there’s not even sex, and I’m supposed to read them…after the books they’re prequels for?
A.) The prequel novellas are optional side stories, and not really standalones; they’re hero novellas, companions to their hero(ine) novels. THE FALLEN is companion to THE LOST; THE SAVED is companion to THE FOUND. (Reading order list is here.) In the main line novels we stay in the heroine’s POV, and there are some things about the hero that remain a mystery, both for the tension of it and to avoid infodumping backstory that it’s intimated their opposite learns off-page. That backstory instead is told in a more active way in the side novellas, while weaving them along the path that leads them to the person they’ll fall in love with. That’s why it’s more fun to read them after – to enjoy the mystery of the hero during the main novel, then unravel his secrets and catch those little teasers pointing him toward his love interest in the novella.
Q.) Then why is AUTUMN a side story even though it’s a full-length novel?
A.) It was never planned to be a part of the series, and was written on a whim in response to overwhelming reader interest. Also, it breaks away from the formula of the other books, and in a lot of ways it’s just a continuation of THE FOUND; on Twitter I described it as fanfic of THE FOUND where everyone’s favorite OTP becomes canon, and that’s not far off. But it also doesn’t follow the prologue + flashbacks formula of the other main line novels; it’s dual POV instead of single POV; it doesn’t have a companion hero novella; and, it’s sweetly angsty, light, and hopeful instead of a sunken pit of grimdark misery.
Q.) I’ve seen hints and rumors of a spinoff series from Crow City, about Wally and his circus. Is that true?
A.) Yep. The series will be called Caravan of the Macabre, and will be set in the 90s; while Walford Gallifrey will be a major character in the story, it’ll be mostly centered on the people in and around his circus, and their relationships. It will probably be very, very queer, and I’m hoping to start writing it in 2020 or 2021.
Q.) Why do you write such dark stories?
A.) Because I like reading dark stories? I like writing and reading light stories, too. Honestly, I like everything. And because I write what I like…yeah. Also, the darker stories are a bit therapeutic for me. I’ve been through some shite. I don’t exactly do well with normative life narratives, and it helps me to write and read stories with people who’ve dealt with things similar to my own struggles, especially if they fight their way toward the kind of happiness that works for them instead of some universal ideal of happiness. I love fantasy happy endings and read/write them when I want to feel light, but sometimes I need darker struggles toward happiness that make me feel understood.
Q.) I wrote a review of your book! Want to see?
A.) If you tag me in a review on social media, I’ll likely RT it, but to be honest…I probably won’t read it. I try not to read reviews, either positive or negative. It makes me really uncomfortable. Reviews are for other readers, and I just don’t feel comfortable hovering around when that’s your space and you don’t need to feel like authors are watching or policing or judging. If you reviewed my book, thank you so very much and I love you, but the best thing I can do out of gratitude is respect spaces for reviewers/readers and not go barging in.
Q.) You said Drake from A SECOND CHANCE AT PARIS will get his own story. What about Ion’s other sister Scheherazade?
A.) Yep. A #2.5 F/F novella between Ophelia’s book and Drake’s book.
Q.) Is each book in the Bayou’s End series a standalone?
A.) Yes. Certain events follow a timeline from book to book and familiar characters return in each book, but they can each be read as a standalone HEA.
Q.) Why are Zero’s and Scheherazade’s stories considered #.5 stories instead of main line novels?
A.) Because they never take place in Bayou’s End at any time in the story, they happen outside the main timeline of events, and they’re on the shorter end of novels/longer end of novellas.
Q.) When is the next Bayou’s End book out?
A.) Probably 2021. I’d like to finish out the Crow City series and then come back to wrap up Bayou’s End before I start any more new series.
Q.) what you just started like three new queer as fuck series in 2019
A.) shh we don’t talk about that
Q.) Is it true you hide Easter Eggs in your books?
A.) Kind of? Just silly little wink-nod things, plus in nearly every book I write I make some mention of one of my favorite obsessions. I haven’t done it as much lately, though, but I may start sneaking it in again.
Q.) What do I get if I find one of the Easter Eggs?
A.) Personal satisfaction? I don’t know, no one has yet. They really are small things, but I might toss a $10 gift card or something to whomever is first to find them.
Q.) What’s the timeline for your next book?
A.) I have no idea, except the monthly releases for Criminal Intentions on the 10th of each month. I’m totally off the rails and trying to recover from massive burnout.
Q.) How do you write books so quickly?
A.) I don’t, not really. I type books quickly, but the actual process of development can take weeks to months. It’s very rare that I can come up with a story idea and within days have it blitzed out; usually when I try I end up writing myself into a corner because I haven’t thought it through enough, and having to start over again and again (like with Black Tattoo).
The only stories where I’ve ever gone successfully from concept to finished product in a matter of days were From the Ashes (which I blitzed in three days in response to a sub call, setting off a chain of events that changed my life forever — but I still wasn’t happy with it and ended up rewriting later) and His Cocky Valet (which still went off the rails from what I intended as a parody and into a thing all its own).
I can also write out episodes of Criminal Intentions in 3-4 days if I really focus (and have, frequently, in deadline-driven desperation), but those are easier because my world and characters are already established and I’m building on that foundation. I once wrote an entire 70K episode in a single night, then did my best imitation of a corpse for approximately a week after.
By the time I’m ready to commit a story to paper, I’ve pretty much worked out everything I need to make the framework of the story work, often kind of running on sub-processes in the back of my mind while I’m working on other stuff, letting it percolate and mature slowly. There’s still a sort of loose pantsing process when I sit down to actually write because the characters tend to govern their own interactions and how they bounce off each other, and sometimes things they do or say spark new ideas — but as long as I’ve taken the time beforehand to work out my characters, their motivations, and the plot drivers, I can usually roll with it.
And at that point, it’s organizing my thoughts into something structured and then just typing fast. Which I’m very good at after over 10 years of experience as a CPRW with an exploitative company that had me parsing large amounts of new data and producing volumes of content on very tight deadlines on a daily basis. I’m honestly happy to be able to reallocate that wordcount to my books.
Although I can’t always pull it off because of physical limitations with pain or fatigue, cognitive limitations with mental illness, or even just because of plain old writer’s block.
So while yes, I can write a book quickly once I really get rolling on it…it’s not easy, and there’s no trade-off that replaces the hard work that goes into it. My process is different from many other writers’, maybe, but no less lengthy or laborious. It’s taken me a while to even recognize this myself, because I never really analyzed how I work until recently; I just sat down and did the thing until I had a finished manuscript without really noticing my patterns or workflow.
Yes, I have a remarkable lack of self-awareness.
It’s the structure that’s different.
Not the effort.
Q.) Yeah, but I heard a rumor that you didn’t really write His Cocky Valet in a week. You repurposed some old Black Butler fanfic and lied about it to drive sales because you’re a shitty opportunist.
A.) …I’ve seen that rumor flying around and I’m not sure what people get out of it other than a hint of scandal makes things more interesting, I guess.
Nope. I wrote it from scratch in a week. You can’t tell? It’s the most loosely, wildly plotted thing I’ve ever done. *laughs* It’s not a tight book at all. It’s a fun book, one that relies sheerly on emotional evocation and a little dirty play, but it’s not a tight book and to me it’s pretty obvious I wrote it in a week with zero advance plotting, just following pure sleep-deprived impulse — impulse that turned it from a parody into a standalone thing all its own because I’m honestly bad at writing parody.
I also never actually expected it to sell when I just wrote it to put myself in the legal line of fire and make it harder for F.H. to pursue all cases of use of Cocky in a book title when so many of us (the romance writing community, that is) were seeking to proliferate the use and thwart that shitty trademark lawsuit by making it very expensive and nigh on impossible to universally enforce as trademark protection generally requires. I was pretty much as shocked as everyone else when the book took off the way it did. I also dared F.H. to come at me with a legal challenge, but…she never did.
Y’all seem to think I’m much smarter and more conniving than I actually am.
It was a silly idea, Twitter goaded me into following through with it, everyone had fun, the book served its purpose to further complicate F.H.’s trademark claims, and the book enjoyed an unexpected sales run because people were curious what could possibly come out of someone blitzing out a book in a week. That’s about the end of it.
And I was actually inspired by Noctis and Ignis from FFXV. Especially in the Brotherhood anime that shows the various characters’ pasts together, I love the way Ignis at once looks after Noctis with loving care and the deference shown to his prince/future king, and also gives him utter hell with zero fucks given for his station in that sardonically dry way he has.
Servant/master tropes are actually pretty common in Japanese media, and neither Black Butler nor FFXV were the first to use them; I just wanted the chance to play with them myself. But I also knew exactly what kind of story I was telling and what tropes I was playing with, so I intentionally threw several Black Butler references in there just to make fans of the manga/anime laugh. Most people picked up on it and were amused by it, but…well…some people gotta be messy.
As long as they’re entertaining themselves, I guess, but you can’t have it both ways — where it’s somehow both so shitty a book I obviously wrote it in a week, and at the same time something I had already had done and lying around waiting to be repurposed. Pick whichever theory keeps you entertained, but both can’t work.
Also, if it was Black Butler fanfic, that would make Ash a stand-in for Ciel vs. inspired by Noctis.
Y’all trying to get me banned from Amazon?
Q.) Why’d you write His Cocky Valet as thinly-veiled DD/lb, then?
A.) Because I like size difference, I like (legal) age gap stories, and I wanted to try writing a dependency/care kink story, but DD/lb actually triggers me as a CSA survivor. It’s fine if you write DD/lb or like it; no shame here. YKINMK(ATOK). But actually getting into age regression with the lb part of it vs. just invoking a caretaker top with a highly dependent bottom is a line that’s hard for me to be comfortable crossing due to trauma triggers, so instead Ash and Brand flirt with the edges of it as adults without Ash actually taking on the lb role and the age stuff inherent.
Q.) wait I’m lost what are you talking about what is DD/lb isn’t lb short for limit break in Final Fantasy games
I think maybe Google needs to be your educator here.
I am not inducting you into that world.
Q.) I was looking for BDSM with His Cocky Valet and it didn’t deliver. 🙁
A.) Whomever told you HCV is BDSM lied to you? I know it’s been shelved that way a lot, but it’s just…not, and I’ve never billed it that way. It’s kinkfic, but it’s not BDSM. Brand is a top, but not a Dom; Ash is a bottom, but not a sub; they have a kink they share, but they aren’t in a formalized, negotiated D/s relationship and don’t follow formal BDSM tenets other than the necessary use of a safe word. They’re just two messy people finding their way around the equally messy edges of a relationship framed in a specific kink.
His Cocky Cellist, on the other hand, is BDSM. I honestly think it’s the only book I’ve ever written that I consider actual BDSM, vs. just flawed people messing around with kink fuckery.
Q.) Your new covers are amazing. Are you still designing your own covers?
A.) Mostly nope. I might be a good cover artist, but I’m not a great one, and I hired someone who can pull off that professional polish I was missing. Her name is Les, she’s brilliantly creative with a beautiful style, and you can find her here. I do a few of my own still now and then, though. You can usually find the cover artist name on the copyright page of individual books.
Q.) What happened to your Patreon?
A.) Read the full tea on that here.
Q.) What are your pronouns?
A.) He/him. Form of address is Mr./Sir.
Q. I heard you use they/them and Mx.
A.) Not sure how that got started, but nope. I’d really like it if people stopped spreading that around.
Q.) But your bio says you’re gender non-conforming.
A.) It also says he/him pronouns right after that.
I’m trans. Male. As in, not conforming to the cis assignation I was given at birth and doing whatever I have to do to be happy in the body I have, but also not feeling as though I have to conform to toxic rigid standards of cis masculinity in order to be male when I feel that as trans men we have the chance to promote a better kind of masculinity rather than trying to prove ourselves by adhering to old harmful standards.
That was a long sentence.
And trying to enforce another gender identity on a binary trans person or using gender-neutral pronouns when you know a binary trans person’s stated pronouns is misgendering. Gender-neutral pronouns are amazing when you don’t want to misgender someone but don’t know their pronouns, or need to make a blanket statement just like the ones I’m making using they/them pronouns in this paragraph. If you do know their pronouns but choose to use they/them anyway, you’re saying you don’t respect who binary trans people are are and instead are going to enforce your perception of their gender on them. You can hurt people that way by triggering their dysphoria and gender-related anxieties.
You also widen the schism between nonbinary and binary trans people, when too frequently we’re used to bludgeon each other rather than supporting each other. Nonbinary people are amazing. Binary trans people are amazing. You can make space for both of us while respecting we have different needs re: how pronouns are handled.
Q.) Why were you in the closet as trans male and passing as cis male?
A.) Because my trans and two-spirit identity is very personal and private to me, and a deep part of myself I don’t like sharing with others in a public forum.
Also people are really shitty to trans folk and I get my fair share of micro and macro aggressions already, thanks. Honestly being out in the current political climate isn’t safe. As in, outing trans folk for whatever crapfuck reasons? Endangers our lives.
But, well, here I am.
Q.) C’mon. Are you really a guy?
A. ) Oh, for the love of – Yes. Jesus. Go read this. Then go hug a puppy.
Q.) Then how do you write from the female POV?
A.) …mostly by listening to the women around me and trying to empathize instead of dismissing, trivializing, objectifying, hypersexualizing, and stereotyping, which is pretty much a solid rule for any time you’re writing outside your lane, realm of experience, or sphere of privilege. Also while contextualizing childhood experiences when growing up with a gender designation that isn’t right is very hard and isn’t the same as growing up as cis female, I was still AFAB and had that role enforced on me for the first 18-20 years of my life. So it’s part empathy, and part experience.
Q.) You empathize with women? Are you gay?
A.) Unashamedly bisexual, actually (no, we aren’t mythical creatures). Which really has nothing to do with treating those who are female-identified as equal human beings that I can empathize with.
Q.) Why won’t you tell us your real name?
A.) Because it’s not important, and I like to have a little privacy despite the expectation of continuous, performative openness required of an author in the age of social media. That, and I tend to work with stuffy old guard corporate white guys, and I have zero interest in justifying what I do in my off hours to them.
Besides, it’s out there and not a secret. Not hard to find. It’s just not interesting, either. Still the same guy regardless of my name.
Q.) You disappear off social media a lot.
A.) Burnout. Plus if I have a lot to do social media is a tempting distraction and method of procrastination, and I need to stay away to maintain some level of discipline and focus. Wordcount before socializing. I always come back. Eventually.
Q.) Why don’t you ever answer FB PMs and Twitter DMs?
A.) Primary reason:
I’m not there.
I’m very sporadically on social media. Like I said, I get burned out really easily, but also?
I hate it there.
I’ve met some amazing people there, but for the most part it’s a toxic hell pit where in general the larger volume of decent, nice people get shouted down by bad faith actors — and it’s a miracle if I dip in more than five minutes any given week if I’m busy or burned out. I’m just not interested in the use of low-context channels for information distribution to create and inflate drama, plus I have a lot of trauma triggers associated with social media. I don’t want to be there. It upsets me. So I’ll show up, flail around for a while when it’s fun, brain vomit whatever’s in my hyper-processing skull…then hit 0 spoons and log off for very long periods.
Secondary reason: because I get too many messages and I can’t keep up. I often don’t know what to say, anyway; I’m not very good at responding to kind words even if I appreciate them, as it often feels like hubris to accept others’ praise or generosity, so I just end up making things awkward for both of us. Plus I have issues with ADHD and focus, and social media can suck me in until I’ve lost days of writing time and possibly weeks’ worth of focus and motivation. If I want to do this, this whole dream I’ve had of writing for a career…I have to make choices. And I have to set boundaries.
I’m getting better at accepting that I’m not evil for enforcing my boundaries, and it’s okay to say “It’s nothing personal, I’m sorry, but I can’t engage with everyone and maintain my mental health + work hours.”
Also like…25% of the time the DMs are sexually inappropriate, invasive, overly intimate, demanding, or just plain rude. I don’t like playing Russian roulette, really, so I’d rather not open them at all than risk one out of four might be a bullet.
So my DMs are closed; non-mutuals can’t DM me on Twitter, and I don’t read DMs from mutuals.
Sometimes people try to send me professional or business-related messages via FB PM or Twitter DM. Don’t. Just don’t do it. You don’t know if I’ll see that in a day or in a year, or ever at all. I don’t care if it’s a request for a blurb or an invitation to an anthology collaboration. Email me.
Q.) But you don’t answer emails, either. ;_;
A.) Not always, but I see them within a day. And if it’s something professional I’ll likely respond within a day or two to either accept, decline, request more information, or ask for more time to consider. Usually anything business-related will push me past whatever anxieties I’m wibbling with that day re: email, but if you’re using social media to contact me about something official that’s going to say a lot to me about how the endeavor is being conducted on a professional level overall. Plus for reals I will likely not see it or if I do, I’ll forget about it before I even get to a place where I can answer.
Q.) So why don’t you answer your other emails? Like fan mail?
A.) The same reason I don’t answer DMs and PMs. I just…can’t keep up. My social capacity is really low, and it’s far lower than it was when I first joined social media because my ability to cope with the inundation of attention has slowly been eroded away over the years to leave me a nervous wreck hanging on by a very thin tether. It only takes one more ounce of weight to make that tether snap, so if I have a choice not to pick up that ounce of weight…I try not to. And even positive social attention can, at times, involve the pressure of other people’s expectations, and I just…can’t. I get overwhelmed and then I hide and then I feel guilty for hiding when (most) people are being nice and then I just hide even more.
Even if it’s a personal email from a friend, I will usually fall off after a couple of exchanges. There are days when I spend 5-6 hours answering professional emails, leaving me very little time to sleep if I want time to write, too…and sometimes I just can’t fit in the personal emails in a consistent manner, though it doesn’t mean I love those people any less. I’m just…overwhelmed.
It’s a mess. I’m a turtle. Hi. I love you, you’re wonderful, I very much appreciate the lovely messages you send me, but I just don’t have the spoons. I’m sorry.
Q.) Why won’t you follow me back on Twitter?
A.) In all honesty, it would be an empty follow for you. It’ll inflate your numbers count, but not much else.
I don’t read my main Twitter timeline at all. I already follow over 2,600 people as I used to do mutual/reciprocal follow, and it’s just too much to keep up with. I do have a few smaller curated lists that are mostly my crit group and my IRL/lifelong friends, but even those I only read sporadically because I’m off social media so much.
I can spend time keeping up with thousands of people on social media, or I can write. I can’t do both. 🙁 I wish I could, but my brain just isn’t that efficient and I’m not that smart. So I just don’t follow back anymore, because there’s just no value in it for you.
But I’m happy to respond to anyone who @s me. <3 I talk to tons of lovely people all the time, and you’re all quite darling.
(Also, though, with my DMs being permanently closed, not following back helps me reduce the messages I get from people who ignore the “No DMs” in my Twitter bio.)
Q. WHY DON’T YOU EVER FINISH SERIES
A.) …can I blame my ADHD for this or nah
No, I just…yeah, I get way too many new ideas and then diversions pull me off from a series or make me struggle with it, or there’s some tricky business with a publisher, or…well, yeah. ADHD, anxiety, depression, PTSD, all of them add up to this mental cocktail of messiness that can make it hard for me to stick to things. Also timing as certain books do better at different times of the year, so I will at times switch focus to get a certain book out within its best possible season.
There’s also Criminal Intentions. Which…I’ve been trying really hard to stay faithful with, at one book per month per season and then a break in between. When I hold myself so tightly scheduled for that, when I want to do anything else…I just let myself wander and have fun to give myself a bit of a breather. Once Criminal Intentions ends with S3, I’d like to just take a dedicated 6-7 months to wrap up all my open series except maybe the Dissonant Universe, as that’s complicated and will likely take me years on a more measured schedule of 1-2 books per year.
Q.) How do I get access to your VIP section? I don’t have a password!
A.) Sign up for my newsletter. Once you confirm your subscription, you’ll get an automated email with the password.
Q.) The password I have doesn’t work anymore.
A.) I change it periodically and always include the new password in a newsletter email, so as long as you’re still subscribed then you’ll get the new password.
Q.) Why should I stay subscribed when I just want the free stuff?
A.) You don’t have to. Subscribe, get the stuff you want, unsubscribe. But I periodically add new free stuff, from playlists to artwork to novellas and full-length novels, so there’ll be new things you can’t access once the password changes.
I get it. You don’t want to get spammed by author newsletters with sales crap and my random meandering rambles just for a few free stories now and then. That’s why I try to keep my newsletters down to 1-2 per month, and sometimes don’t send any at all in a given month. I hope it’s a fair trade-off that isn’t too hard to deal with.
Q.) I signed up, but never got the password in the first place. I made sure to click the confirmation email, too.
A.) Check your spam and bulk mail folders. Check your trash/recycle bin, too, as sometimes mail services will automatically delete anything detected as spam. Although MailerLite, the mailing service I use, is very popular and 100% legit…sometimes they get shunted as spam due to a few bad actors they’re working to clear out of their system. You may need to whitelist firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
9/10 it’s in your spam folder or trash folder. On the rare occasion that the automated email didn’t trigger or it was rejected by your server, email me. I can’t do much with server rejections, though. Once your server rejects the email MailerLite won’t let me manually add you.
I also can’t re-add you if you unsubscribed but want to rejoin. You’ll have to complete the sign-up process again to ensure compliance with GDPR and voluntary opt-in.
Q. I started getting your newsletter and I never signed up for it.
A.) Did you participate in a contest or giveaway that was also an author newsletter event? What happens in those is that the cost of entry for a chance to win is usually being added to the mailing lists of participating authors. The contest organizers should disclose that very clearly and transparently so that you know what you’re consenting to.
Either way, though, feel free to unsubscribe — I won’t resubscribe you and the only way you can be re-added is if you manually sign up yourself. Also, if you participated in a contest that did not make it clear that it was a mailing list builder event, I’d be very grateful if you let me know so I can make sure not to do business with that particular contest organizer again. There’s nothing wrong with newsletter builder events, but all contest entrants should be aware of the terms and conditions.
Q.) A triggering topic in your book upset me.
A.) I’m sorry you’re in pain from something I wrote.
Did you read the content warnings beforehand? It’s impossible to write a book that isn’t going to trigger or upset someone, which is why I include the content warnings — so you can go in forewarned and decide for yourself not to read if a topic that’s included will upset you. I know Amazon skips ahead to the start of chapter one when you open a book (I keep flagging the “start” of my books at the warning but they change it every time), but please page back a little and check the content warnings. I can’t force people to read them, but I can try to make everyone aware that they’re there.
Did I leave something out of the trigger warnings? If so, I’m sorry for my neglect and oversight. If you feel comfortable and safe doing so — and only if you feel comfortable and safe — please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t take back your pain or reverse what’s already passed, but I can at least update the trigger warnings to ensure they’re comprehensive and make sure anyone else is forewarned in the future.
If you read the content warnings, were aware it might hurt you, and read it anyway…I can’t take responsibility for that. I just can’t. I’m sorry and I would never want you to be in pain, but if I tell you a fence is electrified and you stick your hand on it anyway, you’re responsible for that choice.
Not me, and not the hypothetical fence.
Q.) But I have to buy the book to see the content warning. What if the content warning makes me not want to read it? Then I’ve just wasted my money, and returns with Amazon are annoying.
A.) Actually, you don’t need to buy the book! Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature lets you get a quick preview of the book, and since the CWs are in the front they’re always included in that. You can just peek real quick before purchase, read the CWs, and then decide if you want to buy or not after that.
Q.) Why don’t you put the content warnings in the blurbs like some authors do?
A.) Amazon has banned two of my books for that now, and I’d rather not risk it when I already stress myself half to death butting heads with them all the time.
I know some authors get away with it, but it’s a matter of sheer volume and slipping through the cracks. It’s also sometimes a matter of time — I had books with CWs in the blurbs that were fine before but on review just during an update with new back matter or some such, got banned and lost all their reviews during content checking, and had to be re-published as new titles from scratch. Amazon basically doesn’t like CWs in the blurbs because many authors use tongue-in-cheek CWs to bait people with risqué content and entice purchase, and that ticks Amazon off enough that they ban books with legit content warnings in the blurbs, too.
Q.) You spell “shit” as “shite” and “ass” as “arse,” and you say “white guys” as if you aren’t one. Are you foreign?
A.) American born, brown as the day is long, and from a multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual background. You’d be surprised how many brown people who speak multiple languages are from here.
The spellings…all right, this is silly, but I first learned written English from very old books (while I learned spoken English from kindergarten and TV). So I first learned the British spellings of a lot of words. My high school English teacher trained most of it out of me, but not all – though I should really train myself to stop anyway, as it looks affected and pretentious, and I don’t even use “shite” the right way half the time.
It’s a thing that’s not that uncommon with diaspora POC no matter where we live. Colonialism is a hell of a drug, and the way language assimilation is pushed on us with English can happen through a variety of paths.
Q.) Why did you take down the Speak Project?
A.) No one was using it. Also people who read it weren’t reading the names on the posts, and thought they were all from me. And while the sympathy and kindness were sweet, those weren’t my stories or my pains.
Q.) Why did you take down Dammit, Cole?
A.) Again, no one was using it. Plus it was a whim and someone else’s idea that I’m just not really into anymore.
Q.) I won something from you in a contest and haven’t gotten it yet.
A.) Any digital items such as gift cards, you should’ve gotten within 24-48 hours. If you didn’t, email me at email@example.com; it’s possible it was overlooked in my emails. If it’s a physical item, those are on pause right now for two reasons; I’m re-covering all my books and waiting to stock up on physical copies until they’re all done, plus since I just moved I really need to set up a virtual P.O. for a return address so I’m not just giving out my home address everywhere. Once that’s taken care of, I’ll get caught up on any backlogged books that need to be signed and sent. Sorry for the delay, but thank you for your patience.
Q.) Who is Tybalt?
A.) Tybalt was my geriatric little monster of a cat, whom I loved against all reason. After first losing his hearing to a battle with FHV, he suffered a seizure that left him with feline vestibular syndrome. In March of 2015, after nearly fifteen years with me, he died of complications from a much larger seizure. The cat in The Lost is named Tybalt in honor of him – and my new boys, Mercutio and Benvolio, take their names from the same play.
|NEW CROW CITY COVERS
The Crow City Series now has a new cover set – dark, sleek, and just in time for the latest book in the series. See the full series covers here.
|TWENTY NOTES TO THE ANXIOUS, MELANCHOLY WRITER
Judging yourself? Feeling down on your writing? Over-comparing until you work yourself into a hole and can’t get out? Here are a few reminders to help you breathe and refocus.
|AUTUMN (CROW CITY #2.75)
The latest installment in the Crow City series is here – with series favorites Walford Gallifrey and Joseph Armitage returning in a poignant story of reconciliation and newfound love in the first contemporary M/M in the Crow City Series.