Category Archives: Personal

My friends are awesome!

Best book mail is best! I’m so happy to have this lovely from A. R. Kahler on my shelf now. Also, be jealous because Alex writes the best inscriptions. ? I’m so proud of my amazing friend!

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You can land on Shiara in five weeks!

Five Weeks. FIVE. That’s one month plus one week. Hardly any time at all!

This week I’m talking about relationship dynamics. Specifically, how & why Khya and Tessen’s came to be not quite vanilla.

Short answer? It’s Kate Brauning​’s fault. The long answer is similar, yet a bit more complicated.

I wish I still had a link to Kate’s tweet, but it was something like, We must portray YA relationships as diversely as we do adult. Then she went on to say, (approximately) “For example, not all teens are entirely vanilla, but we give them no mirror.”

I said, “You’re okay with that? Because I can ABSOLUTELY do a D/s dynamic. Really, they’re already there. I just need to bring it out.“

Basically, Kate was all, “Yes. Good. Go.”

Knowing going in that my editor wouldn’t give me an “are we sure this is appropriate for teens” speech was a relief. It also gave me the freedom to explore the characters at a deeper level and take a new look at what sexuality meant in Itagami.

Desire (or a lack thereof) and the specific form that feeling takes is a very fraught topic in contemporary society. Dangerously so. The island of Shiara and the city of Sagen sy Itagami gave me a chance to erase a lot of the expectations and “rules” of desire. Although orientation is included in the “rules” (more to come another week), here I’m referring more to preferences, kinks, & fetishes.
Our culture makes a lot of value judgments on an individual’s behavior, ESPECIALLY in regards to sex.

In Itagami, the only rules are 1- CONSENT, 2- no irreparable harm, & 3- don’t let sex distract you from work.

That’s it.

Well, okay. There are a few more rules, but none regarding the HOW of desire or sex.

Although all of it is very minor, I mention or imply a lot of facets of sexuality in Island Of Exiles. Exhibitionism, voyeurism, masochism, and power dynamics all come up somewhere in some way in this book. For Khya and Tessen, though, control, power, trust, and surrender are all key components to their relationship. They both need something from the other, and a lot of the buildup with them is admitting those needs and trusting the other to meet them. Communication–verbal & non-verbal–is crucial in relationships, but especially in ones where power in the sexual relationship isn’t equal.

There are books (which shall remain unnamed) that portray these kinds of relationships in a VERY dangerous way. What I wanted to show is it’s not only okay to want things outside of the normal. It’s okay to talk about them. It’s okay to ask for them. What Khya and Tessen eventually illustrate (fair warning, they’re a sloooooow burn) is how everyone has different needs. Part of what makes relationships strong (ANY, not just romantic and/or sexual ones) is finding someone who needs what you can provide. Another important point, however, is recognizing your own needs and desires and accepting them.

How in the world is anyone supposed to do that if they never see a relationship that ticks their mental boxes in any form of media?

Like all other levels of diversity and representation, relationship dynamics and differing desires are so important. Dynamics, preferences, kinks, and fetishes are ESPECIALLY important for YA authors to consider and include. For most, the teen years is when they begin to discover arousal and desire. Or their lack thereof. If anything, portraying relationships outside the center of the bell curve is MORE important in YA than in adult. Puberty and adolescence and young adulthood are confusing enough. Why make it harder for anyone when we can provide a map?

What I hope is that Khya & Tessen–& the other pairings in the series–introduce teens to concepts about relationships they don’t often see.

In Itagami, monogamy isn’t societally expected. Polyamory is perfectly acceptable. Bisexuality is the normalized orientation. In Itagami, marriage–called a sumai bond in the book–is rare, but when that vow is made it is soul-deep and unbreakable. In Itagami, those who don’t have a sumai bond often move between romantic and/or sexual relationships as their needs change. In Itagami, “normal” has an entirely different set of definitions and expectations than what we’re used to, and I loved creating those rules. In Itagami, the how and why of what happens between two or more people isn’t something anyone else has a right to comment on. Not to say gossip doesn’t happen–it absolutely does–but the judgment and the interference I’ve seen happen in life doesn’t. Mostly.

Hopefully, all of this will be commonplace one day, but it’s not there yet. Especially in young adult fiction.

Khya & Tessen are snarky, strong, and incredibly fun to write. They’re also steamy as hell when they get together. Soon (sooner than I’m ready for, honestly), you’ll get to meet them for yourself!

Buy it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million | IndieBound

Add this book on Goodreads.

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Nemesis is here in T-minus…

There is only one week–ONE! WEEK!–until the Nemesis release!

This week I’m going to talk about how important and very much not a trend accurate, diverse, respectful representation is.

I am asexual. I know this now, but it’s not something I discovered until I was 29. After marriage, divorce, and therapy. For more on that, I’ve written essays about asexuality on my site: Don’t Erase the Aces || Identity, Spectrums, and Labels

Growing up, there were few characters I truly identified with, and none who didn’t eventually find their fulfillment with sex. The lack of representation substantiated my growing belief that my lack of interest in sex meant something was fundamentally wrong with me. This is why I promised myself I’d include an ace-spectrum character in all my books. I don’t want other kids to grow up without the word.

Representation of the world around us AS IT ACTUALLY IS is crucial for so many reasons, and I try to make my books reflect that. I try to do this not just with the inclusion of asexuality, but with everything I trust myself to portray with respectful accuracy.

The cast of the Assassins duology is heterogeneous in race and sexuality, and it’s reflective of the world I grew up in. We need more stories to be mirrors of reality–and we need more of them written by those not usually reflected in those mirrors. Blake’s romantic arc is a close reflection of my own orientation, and I hope she’ll be the same kind of mirror for someone else.

Buy it from: Riptide/Triton | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book DepositoryBooks-A-Million |IndieBound |
Add this book to Goodreads.

 

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Hello, Misty!


It’s only taken me sixteen years, but I FINALLY have a bright blue car! Twitter helped me name her Misty. It seems like 2017 is going to be the year of realized high school dreams! ?

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What year is it again?

Being an author sometimes feels like constantly living in the future. Five weeks before book 1 of #RyoganChronicles releases, I’m digging into the first draft of the final book of the trilogy. Here’s to hoping I can close out Khya’s story with the same explosive force it started with. ?

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Happy Holidays from Florida!

Yes, we really do resort to wrapping palm trees in lights for the holidays in Florida. ???

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Look what I got today!


Look what I got today! Nemesis is a real book and I have them in my hands and YAY! Only two months until this releases into the wild. ?

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The Friday Five – November 12

THE FRIDAY FIVEYes, it’s Saturday, but we’ve already established I’m bad at schedules. Additionally, this week has been hard in a lot of ways for a lot of reasons. It can be hard to find the good in these kinds of weeks, but it matters more than ever now.

So, my Friday Five, post-Trump edition.

  1. I was able to go to Miami this week for the Gemina signing! Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff were both delightful, and it was fantastic to be able to hand them each a stack of books to sign, all of which are now back on my shelf with the rest of my signed books collection.
  2.  Almost everyone in my Twitter community has been amazing this week. Graceful even in their outrage. It’s a privilege to be able to work with these people, and I hope they’ll continue showing me all the ways I can work to ensure the next four years don’t turn into a train wreck.
  3. Cashew milk ice cream. I can’t eat much dairy, and this stuff is a serious blessing on the days when I really need to drown my sorrows in chilled chocolate.
  4. Even if it came too late, I have seen a number of stories about people who voted for Trump realizing exactly how awful he is and beginning to work with the rest of us to mitigate the damge he’s going to try to do. I hope more people follow their example and that Trump’s clear racism, misogyny, and bigorty becomes the turning point for this country. We can survive it if something good is waiting at the other side, I just wish it hadn’t had to come to this.
  5. Book news. More details on this one later, but for now? Book. News. 😀

Book events are the best events.


Had a great time last night at @misterkristoff & @amiekaufmanauthor’s signing in Miami! They were absolutely wonderful, and I highly recommend taking the time to meet them if they come to your area. ?

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Times are hard and getting worse.


When in doubt, support amazing people and diverse stories and creative art.

Books pictured:

  • Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys  | AmazonB&N
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon  | AmazonB&N
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart  | AmazonB&N
  • Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig  | AmazonB&N
  • Boy Robot by Simon Curtis | AmazonB&N
  • Updraft by Fran Wilde | AmazonB&N
  • When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore | AmazonB&N
  • Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King  | AmazonB&N
  • Tattoo Atlas by Tim Floreen | AmazonB&N
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo  | AmazonB&N

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