Wednesday, July 27, 2016

~SM Johnson ~ Leelah Alcorn ~ #transstories

I recently posted to my FB page an essay written by the partner of a transgender man. It was a bit of an enlightening experience to see this journey from a seldom heard from point of view.

I would like to feature more transgender stories on this blog and on the SM Johnson Writes page on Facebook, so if you know anyone who might be interested in sharing a story, please direct them my way. I'd be willing to edit for anyone not confident of their writing skills, and protect a person's identity if they prefer.

I want to create more LGB and Trans safe spaces.

This line of thought reminds me that I want to post #Leelah Alcorn's tumblr note here periodically. Leelah was a human being driven to suicide by her family's refusal to accept her for who she is. No, more than that, they PUNISHED her and ISOLATED her using parental control tactics, as if she were a puppy that just needed to be trained up right.

Pretty sure I've said this before - we have the honor of raising children to become individual, autonomous people. We do not own them. There is no inherent rule that children should turn out just how the parents want them to be. To even think such a thing is utter bullshit.

Leelah’s Note:

If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.

My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.

When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.

I formed a sort of a “f*** you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.

So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.

At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a s**t about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.

After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like s**t because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.

That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a s**t which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s f***ed up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.


(Leelah) Josh Alcorn

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SM Johnson ~ In the Service of Pleasure ~ recent reads

Yeah, pleasure.

Is this part of your every day life? Do you seek it, ask for it, look out for it, enjoy it?

EXPECTED pleasure reading is amazing.

I have the distinct honor and pleasure of being a first reader for one of my favorite authors.

Can you imagine that - being one of the first to enjoy a favorite author's new book? Before publication? Of being able to send an email filled with questions and delighted exclamations (very often there are more of the latter) to your favorite author? Sometimes it feels surreal.

That being said - I have absolutely NO influence on the direction of the story. Nor would I want to. I try to scour the text for typos and sometimes ask for clarification of things that might trip someone up who's new to the story world.

I clear the decks when the next book comes hits my inbox. It's like Christmas and my birthday all at the same time. I want NOTHING but to be left alone to enjoy the read.

I hope my beta readers feel the same about my work.

We, as writers, have a base level of insecurity about new books, I think, and nervously chew our fingernails waiting for a response from our beta readers. These are people we hope have read everything we've written, who know our "voice" and our "style". They're not content editors, it's not their place to tell us what our characters should do, but more... benevolent fans who trust our process, who like it when we surprise them with a new directions.

Speaking for myself - I really don't have a good sense of my own work. I'm never sure if I've managed to get what's in my head onto the page precisely as clear as I want it to be. Some scenes come quickly and easily, others I have to work harder to nail down, and sometimes I'm not even sure if I got the order of events to come together in the way that grows my character properly. Hell, most the time I can't even tell if I've put the thing together in any coherent manner at all.

And three people in a sex scene? Gah! Can the reader even tell who's doing what to whom? And is it hot, or just complicated?

All of that.

I want my beta reader to say, "Hey, Roman's swearing an awful lot in this book, and isn't that something he's consciously decided not to do?" Or "the way you've written that sex scene confuses me - I'm pulled out of my head trying to visualize how everyone is positioned."

I don't really want that reader to say, "Aw, you sent Jason out of town to grad school. But I really like Jason, can't you keep him?"

No, I probably can't.
I really can't manage to write the story you want to read. I can only write the story that I want to read. That's the only story that can hold my attention long enough to write a novel. In my fictional world, people don't always stay together. In my real world, three-way, polyamorous relationships fail, far more often than they succeed. Which doesn't make them any less interesting or intense or wonderful.

Which doesn't mean I don't pay attention to what people say about my books. I've come to recognize that most of my readers are much more invested in the M/M relationships in my books, and not much, or at all, invested in the F/F or M/M/F. Which is fine. Actually, it's better than fine - because I'm a lot more invested in the M/M relationships, too. So I quit dragging them through scenes wherein my only real motivation was to keep up with past POV characters. They don't like it, I find it an uninspiring pain in the ass - so how about let's just not?

The number one reason I write is to entertain myself. Because believe me, I sure don't do it for the money. But - I do make some attempt at continuity of story to give my readers a good experience.

The reason I beta read for a very select couple of authors?

Because I absolutely adore their work. I aspire to write to the level of their skill, which I admire. And I probably do. But overall - I do it because they let me, because they find my thoughts and questions helpful, because they trust me to honestly be able to grasp what they're doing with the story.

Oh, and because reading their work is my favorite thing anyway, so why not?

If an author blows you away with every book they write - especially an Indie author - and you're good at spotting typos and noting confusing bits - I recommend dropping a line and asking if they're seeking beta readers. We love and adore and depend on our Betas, and most of us don't have enough beta readers available to read on our often accelerated schedule, by the time we send to betas, we're often just waiting for that feedback before we hit the button to publish.

Tips and tricks for beta reading:

I read a word doc on my kindle and keep the "notes" feature of my phone open. I can turn that note into an email with a couple of taps to my phone screen, which makes keeping track of comments and typos a lot easier than when I was first tried to keep track of a piece of paper, and then later had to transcribe my hand-written notes.

Anyway. My only child wants to fill my 7 passenger vehicle with friends and head to the beach, so I'd better wrap this up. Yay - I get to spend the rest of the afternoon reading The Backup by Erica Kudish. Not as a beta, but as a paying consumer. And so far this book is SO fucking fabulous you can probably expect to see an actual review here, very soon.

Love to all of you, my Darklings. Oh, and hey - start reading the Quentin Black series by JC Andrijeski. Book one is called Black in White. Proceed from there and you'll eventually get to the book I just got to read, Black and Blue, which is a wild ride and a wonderfully fun read.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Chance to Win Dare in the Dungeon

Good morning, my Darklings...

I have a little Giveaway going on via Amazon. It's super simple - click THIS LINK to Amazon and follow my Amazon author page, and you'll be entered in the contest. There are multiple winners, selected randomly by Amazon, The odds are 1 in 10, so that's not too shabby. Contest runs until July 28, 2016 or until all prizes have been claimed.

Never fear if you're not a winner - pretty sure I'll be doing more giveaways before the release of The New Dungeon this fall.

Hope your day is fantastic in all ways possible.