all about content warnings

As you may have noticed, I’m trying to be a bit more of a community animal recently. That has included blogging more frequently, more interacting, generally spending a bit more time interacting with both readers and writers. I’m enjoying it- I thought it might be awful, I’m a real recluse, generally speaking- but because it’s mostly online, if I get too overwhelmed I can run away and put a paper bag on my head and take deep breaths for a while if necessary.

Anyway. One of the things I’ve forced myself to do is to set up a Bookfunnel Promo. This is where a load of authors get together on Bookfunnel, sling a free e-book/story in to the pot and then when the time comes, promo the heck out of the thing as a whole, so all the participants get the benefit of each other’s followers. It’s worked very well for me before, but there aren’t that many for LGBTQ books and I thought… well, in that case, I’ll do my own. It’ll be open for readers to download free stories in September, although that’s not the point of this post.

The point is that I have only relatively realized that it would be helpful for readers to have content warnings for potentially triggering things in the blurb for each book. And then I went looking for an article about common trigger warnings and couldn’t really find anything both comprehensive and comprehensible for authors new to the concept to send out for my promo participants, because my Google Chi seemed to have collapsed that day.

Eventually though, I found this article from the University of Michigan, which although it’s about content warnings in academic teaching, is very clear, sensible and easily applicable to fiction and sent it out to participants. I’ve copied their list of common content warnings to the bottom of this post.

Then Missy Welsh took the time to email me with this useful blog post by Jami Gold, Content Warnings: How and What to Include?  which is extremely on point and also links to a post by Suzanne at Love in Panels: Content Warnings, What and Why Are They? Suzanne points us to a crowd-sourced list of content warnings on a google-sheet. So it turns out that there is a load of stuff out there, it’s just I was rubbish at finding it. Thank you to all of them for writing such clear and accessible pieces.

I think it’s important to emphasize that it’s impossible to content warn for every reader’s triggers. It’s just not possible. Everything is a trigger for someone. However, that doesn’t mean that as writers we shouldn’t do our best to help readers navigate to stories that are right for them. Authors arguing that we don’t have that responsibility and setting up the ‘everything is a trigger for someone so why bother at all‘ defense as their straw man are being spurious.

As a writer, I don’t want to drive a reader in to the sort of fugue I sometimes end up in when I read about sexual violence or miscarriage. I don’t understand why authors wouldn’t want to help their readers avoid that. It’s just being a good human, isn’t it?

Having said that, some of my blurbs are not yet updated with appropriate CWs. But I’m getting there.

Next week: August’s reading roundup


Common content warnings

    • Sexual Assault
    • Abuse
    • Child abuse/pedophilia/incest
    • Animal cruelty or animal death
    • Self-harm and suicide
    • Eating disorders, body hatred, and fat phobia
    • Violence
    • Pornographic content
    • Kidnapping and abduction
    • Death or dying
    • Pregnancy/Childbirth
    • Miscarriages/Abortion
    • Blood
    • Mental illness and ableism
    • Racism and racial slurs
    • Sexism and misogyny
    • Classism
    • Hateful language directed at religious groups (e.g., Islamophobia, antisemitism)
    • Transphobia and trans misogyny
    • Homophobia and heterosexism

thank you, everyone!

My review tour for Lost in Time ended today and I have just sent out the Amazon eVoucher to the winner of the Rafflecopter draw. Thank you so much to everyone who participated and Dear Winner, I hope you enjoy your spends!

This is the first time I’ve done anything like this (obviously, with it being a first novel and all) and it’s been a real learning curve, in a very positive way. Once I got over the sheer, blinding terror of realising that people were going to read my writing and have thoughts about it, I’ve enjoyed the roller-coaster ride.

There’s been a lot of talk on social media recently about the way that authors and reviewers interact. I have dealt with my innate fear of judgement by simply avoiding reading reviews at all. Mr AL has been deputised to do that for me and has summarised the things readers liked and the things they didn’t like. I do want to thank everyone who has left feedback in all the various different places, even though I’m too scared to read it! It means a great deal to writers that people feel strongly enough to do that, whether it’s positive or negative, because it means that the book connected with you in some way, and that is a good thing.

I think that once you release a book in to the wild, that’s it, really. It’s a bit like having children. You do your best and then you set them free to live their own life and they have to stand on their own two feet. Readers take their own meaning from your words and that either resonates in a positive or a neutral or a negative way. Writers have no control over that and we just have to try and be confident that the work will stand on it’s own.

Mr AL worked in theatre for a good long while and I think it’s a similar thing- you create the work and people invest it with their own meaning, whatever sort of emotional response that is.

Anyway. With all the launch shennanigins out of the way I can get back to actually doing some more writing. I am nearly half way through the sequel to Lost in Time and I hope that you will join me for more of Alec and Lew’s adventures and those of their friends. I do plan some short stories in the same world in the meantime. My writing time is a bit curtailed at the moment by Real Life ™, but I’m getting there, slowly and surely.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Rafflecopter draw. And thank you for reading!

 

Queeromance Ink

This post is a heads-up about Queeromance Ink. It’s an author-driven directory service that lists books by and for queer authors and readers.

I’ve been a member for twelve months as an author and they are currently having a drive to make more people aware of what a good resource they are, so this is my helping hand.

As an author, I pay them twenty dollars a month.  For readers, it’s free. Categories are very precise and searchable. You search for what you want to read and then click through to buy it either direct from the publisher, or from the eReader platform you prefer. There is a ‘To be Read’ section on the site, and you can also click the star next to any author to ‘like’ them and to be notified when they add or release books. Plus, you’ll get an email if any of your TBR list books go on sale.

To join, just go to the membership page and click on the SELECT button next to ‘Reader’. Then fill out the information on the following page and submit the form. As a sweetener for new joiners, you’ll be sent five free queer fantasy books after February 1st. I hope it becomes a go-to resource for QUILTBAG romance books.

There is also a sister site, Queer Sci Fi.

Here endeth the blatant push!

 

Lost in Time Blog Tour

So, I did a blog tour for Lost in Time and the dates are below.

You can win a $10 Amazon gift voucher by entering the rafflecopter draw. (This is the link to the Signal Boost page for the book, and the draw is near the bottom).

January 7 – Book Review By Virginia Lee
January 8 – The Novel Approach – Blog Post
January 9 – Valerie Ullmer
January 10 – Alpha Book Club – Blog Post
January 11 – Mirrgold: Mutterings & Musings
January 12 – Love Bytes -Blog Post
January 13 – Padme’s Library
January 15 – Drops Of Ink, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, MM Good Book Reviews
January 16 – Diverse Reader – Blog Post
January 18 – MM Good Book Reviews – Blog Post

Because I am a) an introvert and also, possibly b) a really sad British cliche, I am finding promoting myself almost physically painful. So thank you for reading this… and now the new year is here and my writer’s block seems to have shifted, I hope to be polishing the sequel “Holding the Border” soon.

Lost in Time

Lost In Time is now available from  JMS Books and all major booksellers. (Typing that is never going to get old). You can find the right format for your eReader on the Queeromance Ink page, including Kindle, ePub, B&N and Google Play.

Lew’s life is pleasantly boring until his friend Mira messes with magic she doesn’t understand. While searching for her, he is pulled back in time to 1919 by a catastrophic magical accident. As he tries to navigate a strange time and find his friend in the smoky music clubs of Soho, the last thing he needs is Detective Alec Carter suspecting him of murder.

 London in 1919 is cold, wet, and tired from four years of war. Alec is back in the Metropolitan Police after slogging out his army service on the Western Front. Falling for a suspect in a gruesome murder case is not on his agenda, however attractive he finds the other man.

 They are both floundering and out of their depth, struggling to come to terms with feelings they didn’t ask for and didn’t expect. Both have secrets that could get them arrested or killed. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures, and illegal sexual desire, who is safe to trust?


Read an excerpt:

He parked the department’s Model-T on the small lane off Hackney High Street where Tyler indicated and followed the man up a flight of steps from a small courtyard, behind what looked like a laundry. Tyler unlocked the door and looked at him. “Come in. You can wait in here.” He threw his damp cap and ‘cycle goggles onto a table that clearly served for kitchen and dining, shucked his coat and gestured to a battered settee in front of a cold grate. “Would you like a drink?” He was un-stoppering a half-full bottle of whisky and sloshing it into two glasses as he spoke.

Alec shut the door and leaned back against it, his arms folded. “How did you know him?”

He kept his gaze uncompromising.

The hand holding the bottle froze in mid-air and then very carefully replaced it on the counter. “I didn’t know him.”

The stopper of the bottle was replaced with deliberation.

“Rubbish.”

Silence.

“Do you want me to take you down to Wapping for questioning?”

More silence. Tyler lifted the glass and took a long slug. He turned to face Alec and Alec suddenly realized that he could have read the young man incorrectly and that he was face to face with the killer. He wasn’t as young as he had initially thought, now Alec was looking at him with a professional eye, and his hands and arms were sinewy and muscled where he’d undone his sleeves. His eyes were dark-chocolate colored, shot through with lighter hazel — almost gold — hooded and wary; and there was a smear of what looked like blood on his fingers where he was gripping the glass and another on his cheek. He told himself that Tyler couldn’t have killed the man — he’d have been covered in blood, the way the throat had been ripped out. But he knew the victim. Alec was sure of it.

Tyler raised the glass again and tossed the rest of the contents back; then turned and went to refill it. Alec caught himself watching the play of his shoulders under his shirt and a little frisson of desire shivered through him. Hell. That was the last thing he needed.

Tyler turned back to Alec, both glasses in hand and caught him looking. He held one out to him, clearly dismissing what he’d seen. “Do you want this?”

Alec unfolded from the door and took it. He gestured to the other man’s fingers. “You touched him.”

He said it flatly, not a question.

“Yes.”

Another pause. Tyler stared into his glass and Alec drank some of his. The bite of the spirit steadied him a little.

“Why?”

“Just as I was setting up the shot. Not deliberately.”

Again, he was lying.

Alec stepped toward the small table where Tyler had put down his camera kit and placed his glass down with a deliberate clunk on the surface. Then he took off his hat and his coat and threw them over the chair-back of one of the mismatched wooden dining chairs before he took another drink.

“Get going with the pictures, then.”

Let it play out, he told himself. Wait. Just let it play out.

He sat down on the battered settee, crossed his arms, and stretched his legs out, tilting his head back against the cushions and keeping eye contact with Tyler all the time. Tyler threw back the remains of his second drink and picked up his kit.

“Dark room’s through there,” he muttered, gesturing at a door. “Not much space in there.”

“I’ll wait here.” Alec was laconic.

He was more tired than he thought — a long day followed by two hours sleep, then being woken again by Grant when the call came in. It was pleasant sitting in the relatively warm flat, listening to the rain outside. It was proper rain now rather than the dank drizzle of earlier and he thought absently to himself that anything left at the scene would be washed away by the time he could get back there to have another look. His eyes started to droop and he let them, lulled by the sound.

You can find the right format for your eReader on the Queeromance Ink page, including Kindle, ePub, B&N and Google Play.