Interview with an Author: Kevin Cunningham

Almost four years ago, To Hell With Fate author, and long-time friend of mine, Kevin Cunningham privileged me with an interview, and he graciously agreed again to be interviewed on his new writing ventures that knot together an original idea he’s been working on since then, and a new television show that has many surprising similarities (though neither knew about the other).


Just for fun, I’ll share a bit of pre-interview banter.  My words are bold, Kevin’s are not, and aside from inserted links and images, this is copy and pasted directly from our interview conducted via messaging:

October 22, 2016

I’m around, whenever you’re ready. I’m indulging a little Wiki editing on Westworld.

You there?

Nope. 😛

Well, let me know when you are. 😉




Okay, now!

(Is this going to be included on the interview? LOL)

LOL, it is now!


First off, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed again! The last time was three and a half years ago.

Damn, it’s been that long? I need to get my publicist on that, making sure I stay in the public eye!

But seriously, thanks for having me. I love talking with you!

I wish you were right here. I’dd offer some rum while talking!

February 2013! Just a few more months and it’ll be almost four. You certainly should be in the public eye more.

In that time, you developed an idea that ended up being the pot of a new television show, though they didn’t know about your book, and you couldn’t have known about the show. In fact, you may have had the initial concept before Fox did. Would you mind telling us a bit about that?

Sure. The story is about a girl attempting to become the first female major leaguer. Much like the TV show “Pitch”, the main character is a pitcher, but one key difference between the stories I’m writing and the show is that the story I’m writing follows the girl’s journey through the minors; in the TV show, the show starts with her Major League debut.

I hope that that difference is what will help my story stand apart from the show. I almost feel like her major league debut is more of the ending, or at least close to the ending. The minor leagues in baseball, where players develop, is years of toiling in a very different environment that what we fans usually see in the Majors. It’s truly where friendships and camaraderie are forged. In terms of journey, this is truly where the start of Christina’s confrontation with the men of baseball will begin, and where the overcoming of stereotypes and triumphs (and failures) will be much more personal.

My series, which will have the overarching title The Art of Throwing Overhand is planned currently as a five book series, which my publisher thinks is insane, and perhaps I am. But I am nothing if not ambitious.

You bring up a fantastic point about how the minors is where players develop more, and that is a very important distinction from the majors. I grew up going to a lot of Modesto A’s games (minors), as well as dozens of Oakland A’s games (majors) a year. The play on the field is different, and so is the feeling in the stands. Do you think you will have any comparisons to the majors in your series, and are you concerned that “Pitch” could influence your storyline choices?

Well, the minors have become a passion of mine. I spent nearly a decade covering the SF Giants minor league system for a website I eventually took control of (, and more recently have once again begun covering the Giants for That’s been fantastic for me personally, as I do love the development of the game. And you’re right, the minors are a very different style of play, as well as a very different environment for fans. In popular culture, it was probably best represented by the film “Bull Durham”, but generally hasn’t been well hit upon in well-known stories since.


Click to read full-size.

In the stories I’m writing, there will be small ones at first, but to most of the characters, it will be a distant dream…almost so distant, it’s as much a point of resentment as it is hope. The comparisons will be much sharper in the final two books I have planned, where the Majors are much closer to the main characters. But that is absolutely a big part of the story, because above almost everything else, it is a story about baseball, and why people love baseball. All people, including women.

As for Pitch influencing my storylines, I won’t lie that I was concerned about it. But as I saw more of the previews, what I really saw were the differences between what I had very much plotted out, and what they were doing. There may be similar themes that are touched upon, as would be unavoidable, but I was happy to see a lot of distinctions as well.

That said, there were a couple of things I have changed a little because they would be too close. I think that kind of way that the show affects my story will be more prominent.

I’m a little upset about the naming, though. Their show is called Pitch. The series of books, each book has a name taken from a type of Pitch (until the end). Book 1 – The Curve; Book 2 – The Change; Book 3 – The Heat; Book 4 – The Slide…and the last book name I’m keeping hidden. I thought hard about changing those, but I want to keep them.

We’ll see what my publisher says, though.

I really admire your decision to show that sports are for women too. Women are often left out of professional sports, to the point that even being a fan of baseball, football, or any other sport is seen as something “for the boys,” and women are so often treated as clueless about sports, no matter how much of fans we may be. As for playing? That’s still seen as strange. Manon Rhéaume, the first woman who played professional hockey, as been somewhat swept under the rug.

Those titles are clever. They show an evolution of a player.

What inspired you to go a route that has been so overlooked, and that is risky in its own right?

I’m really proud of the titles, because they have double (and sometimes triple) meanings, both for the pitches and the events in the stories. That’s why I can’t ditch them.

To be honest, I came upon my character, Christina Covington, accidentally. I’ve always thought baseball would be a sport that could be gender integrated, and I’ve debated people on it. Even in some video games, like an old neo-geo futuristic baseball game, it would feature co-ed teams. But I hadn’t really thought about writing that story until NBC ran a stupid little contest.

The reasons against integrating are getting harder and harder to defend.

How did you find Christina, and what contest?

Basically, NBC did a contest where they solicited people to come up with their own pilots, with the reward being the opportunity to shoot a pilot. Basically, they had run out of ideas.

After years of covering the minors, I’d always thought a minor league team as a great concept for a show. Multiple characters, a storyline with an end (who makes it?), and room for comedy. The dugout bench taking the spot of a coffee-house couch, and you’ve got a fun show. But, as I was thinking of the idea, I knew that the show would be tough to showcase female characters. They’d be relegated to girlfriends/wives, and maybe front office people, but all side characters. Some shows have done okay with that, like Friday Night Lights, but it left me uncomfortable.

That’s how Christina came to mind. She was the female player trying to make it. I initially struggled with the idea, because if I did that, the show would HAVE to be about her, because of course it would. And that’s not a sitcom, generally, by the genre. The guy I was planning to put together a pitch with (haha) fell apart, but Christina’s character was still in my mind. How would she be handled? What would teams do to work with her? The possibilities were fascinating and intriguing.

More and more, I found out more about her. And that’s the way it was. There weren’t a lot of conscious decisions about her personality, nor her history. About her storyline in the books, sure, but the girl in my mind that first day has been pretty much unchanged. It’ll be difficult when the questions come about why I “chose” to make her of mixed race…I didn’t. She just had a Japanese mother and an American father, and that was how she always appeared to me.

The fact I couldn’t get her out of my mind led me to want to write her story, not as a sitcom or comedy, but a very real treatise on her, and sports, and the culture around her. It’s only proven more timely as I’ve started writing.

I’ve gotten to the point I even had her nightmare one night. Not as in, I dreamed up what her nightmare would be. I experienced her nightmare, as her. I hadn’t even been planning to write one in there…but now I can’t not include it.

This sounds more and more intriguing,and I must pause to ask if there’s any estimated potential release dates for these books.

I want to say next Spring, but I’d have to kick some real ass to get this done right. And I don’t want to put it out unless it’s right. If I do finish it, though, you’ll be the first to know.

I’m more excited than usual to read a book that isn’t yet available! And yes, better to do it right. There is only one chance, especially when burning such a new trail.

Do you anticipate any pushback for being a man writing a book about a woman’s experience in baseball, which must surely address sexism and preconceived notions many baseball fans have about what they believe baseball is “supposed to” be rabid adherence to outdated baseball traditions?

To be honest, my fears about comments received back at me is one thing that slowed me on this project. Over the past couple of years, one of the common topics I see is about “Appropriation” and “Whites taking advantage of minorities works” and many racial and gender-based discussions about that, and those are extremely valid topics that need to be talked about and recognized. I am a straight, white male and I know I’ve gotten benefits just from being that way. I try to be as sensitive as possible, but I know that there are things I can’t know about those struggles.

But at the same time as perhaps not being qualified in those areas, my time spent writing about baseball is something I think that gives myself a qualification to write this story. I’ve had to convince myself of that. And if I’m not able to experience the struggles Christina herself would go through, what I can bring forth are the real reactions of those she will come into conflict with. And I’ve done my best to put myself in her shoes, and think about what I would do. I felt vindicated that one particular method in which I’d deal with a possible subject that only a woman would go through was actually done, almost to the letter, by Ronda Rousey earlier this year.

I know that between writing a female main character, and one of mixed race, I may upset some people. That’s likely unavoidable. But I am working with friends and professionals to try and address those perspectives as realistically as possible. I am lucky enough to have a very diverse group of friends, from potential Olympians to many different races, and they’ve been very gracious to be honest with me about this story and giving me feedback on things I don’t get quite right.

bear cubs

(Giants fans love the Cubs right now…)

As far as the men who want to follow baseball’s traditions…to be honest, I don’t give them a second thought. Because they’re the ones who need to be challenged…and if they aren’t pissed off, or feeling threatened, or the kind of thing that prompts negative reactions…then I probably haven’t written it right. And I’ve been a Giants fan alone at Dodger Stadium, and an Oakland Raiders fan, so not much scares me on that front.

You’ve hit on a topic that I’d like to interview you more about at a later time, if you’d be so inclined. As you are someone who is making an actual attempt to tackle issues in a way no one else has, as you get further in the process of finishing the first book in this series, would you allow me the opportunity to pick you thoughts about appropriation, perceived appropriation, and attempts at increasing diversity in literature?

I would be happy to, though that is definitely a topic I’d hope could be addressed from many viewpoints.

An ideal situation would be a round table discussion. I’ll get to work on getting that set up.

Hopping back in time a bit, To Hell with Fate has been out a while now. The story is To Hell With Fate.jpgsomewhat light in comparison to The Art of Throwing Overhand. In the time between writing To Hell with Fate, and now, how do you feel your writing style has changed, if at all?

Honestly, I feel it hasn’t changed enough, and that’s prompted some of my slowdown. To Hell With Fate was a story that played out over a couple of days (and kind of a couple of years), but it allowed me to write some of the minutiae of the characters’ actions. I tried to take that approach, and soon I found myself 150 pages into my story and no baseball.

One of my biggest challenges has been to try and write the broad strokes. In some ways, that’s both easy and hard with baseball. A baseball game is like a series of Russian Nesting Dolls posing as stories. Every at-bat is a story in of itself, with each pitch setting up the next. Every innings is its own story, contained within those at-bats. Every game has a story. The games fit into the stories of the season. And of course, the seasons are just part of the story of a player’s career, or a team’s history.

Stepping back and looking at things from a longer perspective has definitely been one of my challenges in this story, and changing my writing style. That said, I wrote three pages just on one pitch Christina threw, and I may keep it in there because I love it.

Which probably means I’ll have to cut it.

Perhaps it could serve as something of a teaser at some point. Baseball is so much more of a mind game than casual viewers usually realize.

In what ways to you relate to your protagonists in both To Hell with Fate and in The Art of Throwing Overhand?

To Hell With Fate was a very personal book to me. It’s fiction, but yet it was inspired by some very real emotions I felt and went through growing up. It’s funny, the character I always saw as the protagonist in To Hell With Fate is not the one that others saw…but then, I thought it was the one closest to who I am, where as others saw the girls I used (in my mind) as a Greek Chrous as the main characters.

And Christina?

In some ways, Christina (from The Art of Throwing Overhand) shares some characteristics of both of the girls who get a lot of time in To Hell With Fate. Christina does not start as a loud, outspoken character. She has to be pushed to get there, like Jessie from To Hell With Fate. And yet, there’s a frustration bubbling underneath her surface. She’s not perfect, and that’s something that others need to adjust to. The longer the book goes, she become more like Samantha from To Hell With Fate. She finds her voice, and suddenly that frustration inside her doesn’t have a filter.

Christina’s journey is to balance those two halves. In that end, it’s a little like both Sam and Jessie’s arcs in To Hell With Fate, but in a much broader scope, and underneath a much bigger microscope. That lens of fame gives what Christina goes through a much different context.

In what ways do you find it hard to relate to these three characters, and how do you overcome those challenges in writing?

You know, I don’t find it as challenging as some think. Jay, my editor, once told me that I write children so well. But Sam and Jessie just came out as honest, curious and/or bitter versions of who I feel I am. It took more bravery to just let that younger side of myself talk to write them.

Christina is harder to relate to: I’ve never been the athlete. What I’ve always been, however, is the observer of athletes. I’ve been writing about sports nearly nonstop since my Freshman year of high school. That is how I’m dealing with that challenge here. At some points, I’m not writing about what’s going through her mind. I’m writing about how she’s reacting to it. That is how I hope readers will connect with what she’s feeling or doing.

This is such an ambitious undertaking. What advice do you have for other writers who may have similar ideas in their own heads, but who may be too intimidated to take the plunge?

I feel almost unfair giving advice until I overcome the intimidation I feel every day. But if there’s anything I can say, find someone you trust to talk to about it, and get their feedback. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with them. I’ve been lucky, both among my friends and people on Twitter who have been incredibly supportive and have encouraged me to continue, even when I feel almost ready to to give up on myself. Peer support is so important.

It’s helping you push onward, which is just what writers need sometimes. Just that push.

Thank you very, very much for your time, and I can’t wait until The Curve comes out.

Thank you Alys. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, and really, thank you for all the support you’ve given me through this book and To Hell With Fate. I hope I can meet your expectations, and thrill everyone else!


More information about Kevin Cunningham can be found at the following:

Uniquely Generic
Uniquely Generic on Facebook
Uniquely Generic on Twitter
Uniquely Generic on Instagram
The Lunatic Fringe


Chapter 15: Monday, May 30, 2011, PART 2

There’s no way to candy-coat what happens in this chapter. It’s not even as bad as it’ll get in this book, and this book is mild compared to the third book in the original trilogy. You know, the book where he’s “all better.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


And the rest of this chapter…oh, deities….

(Directory of recap links)

Grey gets his sorry ass out of the shower and heads to the kitchen where Ana and Mrs. J. are talking, and even though Ana’s not hungry, like a lot of people who don’t care to eat in the morning, he decides she’s GOING TO eat. Well. Geez. As someone dealing with an eating disorder every damned day, if someone ordered me to eat, I’d probably throw up.

An unsettling theme in the books through Ana’s eyes is how little she eats, and how much others constantly tell her she needs to. Frankly, there are red flags that Ana could potentially have an eating disorder. Honestly, I couldn’t blame her if she were to develop one at this point, if she didn’t already. It’s the little control she has, but Grey’s taking even that away from her.

Grey starts grilling Ana on whether or not she bought her ticket yet.

“Do you have the money?”

“Yes,” she says, as if I’m five years old, and she tosses her hair over her shoulder, flattening her lips, peeved, I think.

I arch an eyebrow in censure. I could always spank you again, sweetheart.

“Yes, I do, thank you,” she says quickly, in a more subdued tone.

That’s better.

I’m not at all sure what she’s saying “thank you” to. He didn’t make an offer of any sort. A “Sir” there would make more sense. I’m as confused as Ana was when she thought his play room would be where he kept his X-box right after they talked sex.

He does end up offering her a company jet, which she turns down.

Surely most women would jump at the opportunity of taking a private jet, but it seems material wealth really doesn’t impress this girl—or she doesn’t like to feel indebted to me. I’m not sure which. Either way, she’s a stubborn creature.

You think, you asshole? Of course she doesn’t ant to feel indebted to you when you’re already of the mind that you own her body.

Spoiler alert: It’s CANON that she’s taking this trip to get away from him. CANON. Ana actually says so.

Since she won’t take his jet, he tries to get out of her where she’s applying for a job, and she won’t tell.

“I’m a man of means, Miss Steele.”

“I’m fully aware of that, Mr. Grey. Are you going to track my phone?”

Score one for Ana. Score an express bus pass to hell for Grey.

He calls this “banter” and her being “sassy.” This is “refreshing and fun” to him. No. It’s her literally wanting to get away from him.

Food’s served, and she eats. Like she has a choice? Ana wants to know again why he doesn’t like to be touched, and again, this is a fair question. She wants to get to know him, WHICH IS FAIR. He gets pissy and decides to demand to know if she’ll miss him when she’s gone. There’s only one answer to safely give to that, and she gives it.

Once she’s finished eating, she tells him she needs to leave, and he pressures her to spend her day with him.

“I have to prep for my interviews. And get changed.” She eyes me warily.

When you notice she’s wary, drop it.

And for once, he does. And off she goes to get ready to leave, and he tells her to remember her Blackberry, Mac, and chargers. And once again I laugh because this book is dated by the Blackberry references. Because Blackberry is no more. Bwahaha! A little writing tip: Don’t mention tech by name unless you want to date a book. Despite the dates on these chapters, I don’t think Madame James meant to date these books. She padded the Fifty Shades books with headers on literally every single email, and inadvertently dated them.

Also when you only have one computer, I don’t think you need to mention the brand. I’m an iPhone-user who is impatiently awaiting the arrival of my 7 (first time I haven’t had a new phone on the day of release because I am THAT kind of fan), and I have two Macbooks Pros, and I just call then my phone and my big computer and small computer. If my husband asks if my phone is charged, he doesn’t have to specify brand because that’s a given.

But while we’re on Mac products (you’re going to want a little diversion before some stuff coming up soon makes your head explode if your heart doesn’t seize in fear first), here’s a selfie I took with my iPhone 5:


And here’s a pretty bunch of flowers I got with my iPhone 6:


I call my stuff iFauxtography. iFeelclever.

Bye-bye, pretty flowers. Time to go back to hell.

Where were we? Oh, yeah, he’s name-dropping gratuitously as he tells her to take the things he can use to track her. Yeah, you could track pretty easily using Mac computers and iPhones in 2011, and still can, if you have the right apps installed. Of course he goes the route that requires committing a crime with the phone.

Ana wants to go to her car alone, and he won’t let her. Nope. Even though she wants to go alone, he wants to make out with her in the elevator. Guess who wins. Yup. She doesn’t want him there, is kissed when she wants to be alone, and fans call this bit of sexual assault romantic.

She manages to escape, finally, and Grey tells Taylor, who has been there all along and not once mentioned, that he wants to go to his office.

I call Welsh from the car.

“Mr. Grey,” he rasps.

“Welch. Anastasia Steele is buying an airline ticket today, leaving Seattle tonight for Savannah. I’d like to know which flight she’s on.”

“Does she have an airline preference?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

I hang up. My cunning plan is falling into place.

No. No, no, NO. I know what he’s going to do. You remember how he admitted she probably didn’t want to be indebted to him? After she told him she’d buy her own ticket? Remember that. He’s not about to respect her. Of course he won’t.

Grey gets to the office, startles Andrea, snarks to us that he does work there (when is he ever there?), and when she asks how he wants his coffee, he tells us…

Good girl.

Oh god. Gross. It’s like he’s seeing his office staff as fair game.


At least one person approves. (Total aside: Too bad the woman who was handed a gift with those recordings changes the topic instead of standing by women and thoroughly denouncing his behavior.)

Grey opens an email from Elena Lincoln that’s pointless, and gets a cal back from Welsh that no ticket has been bought yet, but that he’ll monitor the airlines. I’m pretty sure that kind of hacking could be considered a terrorism concern.

Some lady named Caroline Acton calls, and rather than telling us she’s the personal shopper he has picked out for his subs (and victims–he has hurt at least one of them badly before Ana, which is canon as well), he just tells her he wants “the usual,” and the colors, and to make sure we know he’s rich, there’s no budget. He tells her that stuff, then says he’ll email the sizes. Strange that that’s what he wouldn’t say aloud.

Welsh calls him back with Ana’s flight info, and it’s important to note that he only got the flight into going to Georgia. Grey immediately orders Andrea to upgrade those flights, and to pay for Ana’s return flight back…which she hadn’t even booked!!! So he decided when she’s coming back! And access to the first class lounges, which is the smallest transgression here. And as a kicker, Grey wants Andrea to buy the seat next to Ana on all flights, ostensibly so no one can be near her. When Andrea looks concerned, Grey tells us it’s none of her business. Um, actually it is since she’s been ordered to change the flight into of someone without their consent. I can’t even change my husband’s flight details if we aren’t flying together.

So he won’t respect her enough to let her be independent, and is isolating her on her flights, and decided for her when she’s coming back.

Next up is some gibberish about business that has no context, making it utterly boring, even to someone like me who actually enjoys reading about mergers and acquisitions.

Who wants a bunch of boring emails padded with headers? Me neither. To sum them all up, Ana wants to know if Mrs. Jones is an ex-sub of his (and he mentally orders Ana to watch her language when she wrote “fucking,” which makes him a hypocrite since he says it plenty).

He tells her no, he wouldn’t work with someone he’s had sex with (though it seems like he’s at least thought about it with Andrea), and if Ana doesn’t clean up her language (now he tells her instead of us), then maybe he won’t hire her.


So you’re threatening her by saying you’re going to do what she wants anyway. She reiterates that she doesn’t want to work for him, and the irony goes over his head. He’s only annoyed that someone as “bright” as her doesn’t want to work for him. He’s really just annoyed that she’s trying to preserve some agency, but I laughed at the “bright” part.

Frankly, she’s a dim bulb who doesn’t know how to use the internet and hadn’t the lightest clue about sex, and is still shocked by the tiniest things that an reasonably unsheltered teenager would know about. Grey himself had to tell her how to do some basic research that elementary school kids are required to so for essays and such. She’s not bright, and she wouldn’t have graduate the real WSU, especially with a degree that requires using the internet, unless she was on the equivalent of a 504-plan, an IEP, aka a federally-mandated plan that helps special needs students with disabilities finish their education, and I don’t think colleges have those. But in this word, they’d have to since she got out of college without ever using the internet. It just…it doesn’t work that way!!

Now for some page of emails between Grey and Elena. She wants him to meet a girl she mentioned at some point, but that we haven’t heard about before now. He tells her he wants to “let the arrangement [he has] now run its course.” Well. He sounds dedicated….

He moves on to more random business stuff, but says something about a summary of the publishing houses in Seattle. Guess where this is going. Go on. Guess.

Later on that night, he gets another email from Ana.

Dear Mr. Grey,

What really alarms me is how you knew which flight I was on.

Your stalking knows no bounds. Let’s hope that Dr. Flynn is back from vacation.

I have had a manicure, a back massage, and two glasses of champagne—a very nice start to my vacation.

Thank you.

Grey mentally congratulates Andrea on successfully upgrading the flights. Her alarm doesn’t even register with him.

And his stalking is about to get much, much scarier.

The bit of passive-aggressiveness did register, and he wants to know who massaged her back. I guess he forgot that first-class lounges often have that service, and it’s entirely professional.

She tells him a massage-therapist she wouldn’t have met had she been allowed to take the flight she booked herself.

Is she trying to make me jealous? Does she have any idea how mad I can get? She’s been gone for a few hours, and she’s deliberately making me angry. Why does she do this to me?

Which is frightening.

Have another pretty picture I took.

Maybe envision Grey falling over it. This is Multnomah Falls.


From: Christian Grey
Subject: Enjoy It While You Can
Date: May 30 2011 22:25
To: Anastasia Steele
Dear Miss Steele,
I know what you’re trying to do—and trust me, you’ve succeeded. Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate. Believe me when I say that attending to you in that state will give me so much more pleasure than merely upgrading your ticket.
I look forward to your return.
Christian Grey
Palm-Twitching CEO,
Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

There’s not a single part of that that isn’t terrifying. From the ominous subject line to his palm twitching to hit her. I think the body of the message speaks for itself.

This isn’t romance. It’s abuse, and people who fantasize about this guy and get turned on thinking about him need professional help. I’m not saying that lightly.

From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Joking?
Date: May 30 2011 22:30
To: Christian Grey
You see—I have no idea if you’re joking—and if you’re not, then I think I’ll stay in Georgia. Crates are a hard limit for me. Sorry I made you mad. Tell me you forgive me.


Do fans think it bodes well when a woman doesn’t know if her boyfriend/abuser is kidding? Do fans really think that fear won’t affect the decisions she makes? Simply getting a massage has her threatened with being bound and gagged and tossed in a crate, and now she’s asking for forgiveness. SHE IS SCARED!! What the FUCK is wrong with the people who love this?!

Of course I’m joking…sort of.

Rather than being startled that she finds him frightening enough to believe he might really do that to her, he merely tells us that he’s SORT OF joking. That’s no comfort. He’s mad. He hits her when she begs him not to, stalks her enough that she tries to make light of it, won’t respect her at any point in time…of COURSE he’d do that to her!! What happens in the third book makes that heart-breakingly clear.

Rather than console her by telling her he’s joking, he tells her she shouldn’t be on her phone since she should be on a plane (still stalking her location), and that’s endangering her (nope, when I was on a flight that year, the plane had WiFi, and of course first class would have included access), and that he has two twitching palms now. So he wants to hit her twice as much.

Poor little asshole only starts to have anxiety about whether or not she’ll return to his presence so he can fuck her some more. So he starts drinking and playing his piano.

I considered ending this one with pictures of puppies or something, but is anyone reading this are fans, I don’t want them to have the mood lightened. I want it to sink in. I want them to reflect on how they can see this man as romantic or ideal when he’s absolutely horrifying. I want people who defend this book as “just fiction,” fan or not, to think about how they’re defending the actions of an abuser by claiming “it’s not real.”

Well, defending these books and the actions as “just fiction” sends the message to kids and teens that what happens in these books is acceptable. Do you want to claim a part in helping normalize these books? A decade ago, it was better understood that rape and sexual assault were wrong, and now we have convicted rapists getting off because the unconscious victim somehow asked for it because she drank. We have more compassion for rapists (look at the Stanford asshole who had a judge concerned that six months would be too hard on the rapist).

It’s been normalized enough that we have as the top presidential candidates a rapist and someone who ignored her husband’s sexual assaults and is personal friends with the rapist and who won’t denounce him. We have a society where these things are only issues when supporters of either side are trying to tear the other down more. These things were known long ago, and our society looked the other way, and we have millions of people around the world approving of the behavior of one of those candidates by loving and adoring a character almost exactly like him.

Look at this picture and tell me if you can hold up these books and say to that little girl that what is in these books is perfectly fine. Can you tell her that Christian Grey is attractive and that these books are romantic? If Christian Grey is good enough for you, he’s good enough for her, because you deserve just as good of a partner as she deserves to have when she’s older. Can you tell her that Christian Grey is a man who deserves you, who deserves her, who deserves anyone?

Go on. She’s listening.


Grey versus Trump

Over the last couple days, I’ve seen people comparing these two, and saying that they’re not the same, and because Donald Trump is worse, that makes Christian Grey okay.  Even people I know who’ve been against Grey are defending him now.  Let’s toss in people now defending Bill Clinton by saying his assaults are in the part.

That needs to stop.  That’s making everything so much worse.

First off, the easier issue to tackle here is the claim that Bill Clinton’s assaults being in the past.  While the actions are indeed in the past, the repercussions for victims doesn’t end once an assault is over.  How do you think it affects those women to see their assaulter spend eight years in the White House, and now his wife, who threw them under the bus in his defense, trying to get them back in? Abuse in the past doesn’t mean that victims’ traumas are in the past.

Guess what.  Trump’s assaults are in the past too.  You can’t say Bill’s are in the past to dismiss them while treating Trump’s assaults as current.  They’re all current.  They’re current as long as the victims have to deal with what happened, and they’re current as long as the perps haven’t had to face criminal action to answer for what they chose to do wrong.  Dismissing one group of victims to stand by their attacker and his spouse is cruel and wrong, and it’s doubly cruel and wrong when they’re being hand-waved aside to try to make another perp look worse.  What they’ve both done is wrong, Hillary throwing them under the bus is wrong, and all three need to be treated like the assaulters/assault-defenders they are.  There shouldn’t be a hierarchy here.  One person being raped shouldn’t mean that another woman who was “pussy-grabbed” should be told that her experience doesn’t matter because a penis wasn’t shoved into her vagina.  Yet that’s the message sent here by this growing willingness to overlook the women victimized by a man marginally more likable because the other man is currently less-likable.

Second off, the only reason being given for why Grey isn’t “as bad” as Grey is because Grey is fiction.  But is he really?  Almost overnight a new trend has popped up even among anti-abuse authors defending Grey and claiming that no one should have a problem with these books because “[y]ou know the difference between a fictional and real life,” and saying things like being a fan of Game of Thrones doesn’t mean wanting to be beheaded in real life, or being a fan of Slytherin doesn’t mean wanting to participate in Death Eater activities in real life.





Another first off!  Not all erotica is the same.  Fifty Shades depicts an abusive relationship and shouldn’t be held up as an example of erotica.  Jenny Trout’s The Boss (by-line Abigail Barnette) is erotica that is heavy on consent and individual responsibility and accountability.  Just because a book has sex doesn’t make it erotica.  And being against Fifty Shades doesn’t mean being against the entire genre of erotica.  It means being against that one specific series.

Second off, fandoms such as Game of Thrones and Harry Potter depict things that can’t happen in real life.  Third off, no one happily fantasizes about being in the position of people who are three seconds from being beheaded and then as the guillotine falls and wishes it to happen to them, or of being on the receiving end of the excruciatus curse.  No one advocates those actions to be good actions.

Every day, in real life, women do end up with people like Christian Grey, and every day, men act like like him.  No matter how much you may love Voldemort, you can’t be with someone like him, and people can’t be like him, because that kind of magic that can make him alluring doesn’t exist.

Coast to coast and around the world, women talk about how much they want Christian Grey and how wonderful he is, and our younger women and teens hear this and believe that men like him, men who commit his actions, are acceptable.  For all the talk about how all you have to do is talk to your kids, no one has found a way to make that a silver bullet against abuse.  Most of today’s women in first-world nations have grown up hearing that abuse is bad, and yet how many of us ended up in abusive relationships anyway?  At least a third of us woman (and a quarter of men).  How can anyone stand by and support supportive talk about an abuser who is realistic enough that he exists in real life?

Just a handful of years ago, we were calling out Edward Cullen for being controlling and abusive.  Rules were placed on Bella that she didn’t want.  When she tried living her own life and seeing a friend, Edward disabled her truck.  He broke into her house repeatedly to watch her sleep.  He stalked her before abusing her.  Fan defended his behavior as he just loved her so much that he couldn’t control himself, while many others expressed deep concern about teenagers pining for a buy just like him, and looking for human boyfriends who’d act like him.  But when Christian came along, Edward seemed mild in comparison, and between the two, Edward became desirable.

The result?  Desensitization.  Landing someone who acts like Edward is now no big deal, and when men start to get controlling, they’re excused because they just “love” their victims too much.  The excuses made have become validation when that character ceases to be seen as someone to rally against.

One of the worst things for today’s women and girls is to stop rallying against Christian Grey’s behavior just because he’s in a book while Trump is on a debate stage.  By no means should we abandon speaking against Christian.  Do we really want to normalize his behavior and make it seem acceptable on account of how he can’t reach through the pages and literally “pussy-grab” a random woman?  No one besides perhaps Trump’s wife, Melania, defends him as a good man to have, yet countless defend Grey, and in doing that, are teaching our children and teens that Grey is someone to strive for.   When we’re already in a free-fall where assault is being seen as no big deal…well, as long as it happens to someone else because we all see it as wrong when it happens against our own bodies and our on children…why should we keel over and do nothing to stop it?

Stop making abuse a hierarchy and taking the mindset that you only need to be against what you think is worse.  Give up the mindset that being against one series means shaming a entire genre.  Start looking at how fiction affects what is seen as normal and acceptable in society.  You can be against Christian Grey while enjoying erotica, and you can be against Christian Grey AND Donald Trump AND the Clintons.  It’s not zero-sum where you have to pick one.

ryan-gossling-fifty-shades   ryan-gosling-politics

Interview with an Author: T.J. Loveless

(Interview with an Author index)

Over three and a half years ago, T.J. Loveless kicked off my original series of author interviews.  As one of the earliest author I view in any mentor capacity, I decided to ask her to bestow upon me the honor of an interview again, and I am pleased to give you the answer you already know!

T.J. Loveless

Twitter: T.J. on Twitter
Facebook: T.J. Loveless
Website (under construction): Author T.J. Loveless

A lot can happen in one year. How do you feel the last year of writing has gone?

2016 can kiss my fat ass lol badly. Oh so very badly. My writing has suffered, and there’s a lot of personal hell, lol

I’ll raise a glass to that! It seems the last twelve months has been a hard one for several writers. I hope things are starting to look up for you.

Many writers, if not all, come up against deadlines, personally or otherwise imposed, and find that they’re behind. How do you handle this without being tempted to walk away, or is there no such thing as too far behind to leave a part of oneself in the dust?

I’m so far behind I’ve come to the realization I just need to start over. I’ve missed six deadlines, and cried every time. But I’ll get back in the saddle soon.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by starting over? Do you intend to abandon the series you’ve started and begin new ones?

Starting over. I’m going to finish all the series I started. By saying starting over, I mean act as if I’m a first time published author. We’re working on branding, logos etc. I’ve put out books, but haven’t marketed in over a year. I’m waiting to finish everything I have open now, prep for publishing and then release all at once, marketing the series itself. Plus readers won’t have to wait. I’m in the process of redoing covers, reformatting, and revising the ones I have out. It’s a complete revamp, and start over. It’ll take until next Spring.

That sounds overwhelming! I can’t wait for the cover and to see how you handle everything treated as new. Will you blog about the process or post to Facebook?

I might. I’ve thought about it. A complete reboot type of post. Although right now I’m barely able to keep up with what I’ve got. lol

Fractured Steel.jpgYour Fractured Metal series wonderfully captures how tour of duty can affect the actions, thoughts, and choices of soldiers after they’ve returned home. What do you see for the future of this series? Is there an anticipated release date for Shattered Gold?

I want Shattered Gold out before the end of October, but fairly certain I’m going to miss that deadline too. I’m wavering if this series is going to go past book three, so not promising. It’s a wait and see strategy.

I can see how continuing this series would be so difficult, and it’s better to handle these stories appropriately instead of pushing them out when they won’t come. Have they given you any ideas for others?

I’m finishing all the series I have and plotting out three more. I’ve tried different genres, stretched as a writer. I’m going back to Dark UF. I don’t know if the metal series has more so I’m leaving it open just on case.

As a mother myself, Going Thru Hell’s Kylie’s difficult decision is heart-shattering. going-thru-hellMight Reign of the Braiders (Going Thru Hell, Dark Storms) expand into a larger universe, perhaps children of other Braiders?

For the longest time I didn’t think it was going past book one, but some stories are starting to whisper …
Oh, an intrigue! How many wild horses will it take to get you to whisper what some of those whispers are saying to you?

For the whisperings, I have one series I’m plotting that is a little different, and even prebought most of the covers, etc. It’s Dark UF, playing with humans. Plus I have another series I turned into a serial, the first four covers done, the first novella done, that deals with women as heroes. Because it isn’t just men who can save the world.

“It isn’t just men who can save the world.” That is such an important lesson, and it’s growing more important by the day, despite this being 2016….

As time goes by do you find your thoughts or feelings about your characters changing?

That is part of the revamp. Both of the twins have a story. One redeeming and one…well… Life is never predictable no matter what the gods want.

What goes through your mind when you re-read your earliest work?

Since I’m revamping all of them, I can see a lot of improvement over 3 years. Fell in love a with a few characters all over again.

If you could ask a completely random author any question about writing or their own books, what would that question be?

Of all the characters you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?

And there you have your next question! Of all the characters you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?

I have a love for all of my characters, but two characters still tug my heart strings, and I still think of them. Karen and Kylie. Both women I put through hell, made them decide which evil would win, in order to beat the worse evil they were facing. Both with trauma issues, both trying to find the strength to live at least one more day. In the case of Kylie, she made the ultimate sacrifice for her children. She faced it, she accepted it, she understood the consequences of her actions, and did what she had to do. I love her for that. I’m not sure I could. Karen, who lived, but who fell apart and had to put herself back together, in horrifying circumstances. Who had to learn to live with her decisions, good and bad. And decided every day to stand up, and take another beating if necessary. These two are the women I aspire to be, and often fail. But one day, I hope to be like them.

Thank you very much, T.J.!  I hope you’ll share with is your process of that fresh start as it happens, which very well may help inspire some who’ve fallen behind and are unsure if they should give up or push on (push on!)  Without any doubt, the future will bring some wonderful work from you.

Twitter: T.J. on Twitter
Facebook: T.J. Loveless
Website (under construction): Author T.J. Loveless

Interview with an Author series

Each week I’d like to interview an author again.  A couple years ago, I had a few author interviews, which are always fun, and a great way to see what other authors are up to and help get word out about their work.  Well, folks, that’s back!  And back with me will be a couple authors I have interviewed before!  Please allow me to share the next ten weeks (including two-week break):

October 9: T.J. Loveless
October 16: Terri Bruce
October 23: Kevin Cunningham
October 30: SA Hunt
November 6: Angel Justice
November 13: EB Black
November 20: Sarah M. Cradit
November 27: Off-day for Thanksgiving
December 4: Off-day since previous week will be too busy (daughter’s birthday)
December 11: Erin M. Bullock

Dates are tentative pending something coming up in the authors’ schedules.

If you have a favorite author you’d like to see interviewed, or are an author who would like to be, even if you’ve never commented before and feel shy and like you aren’t accomplished enough, even if you haven’t yet published your first book, but are still working on it, please leave a comment and I’ll get in touch.  Your email address will be visible to be, so you don’t need to worry about that being shared with the world.  Please share this with your fellow author friends who may be interested in having a chance to be interviewed.

And now, we start.

We’re about to have a rapist or a rape-excuser and rapist pair in the White House, and this is crushing

(I’m writing this at 3:30am, so please excuse typos and such.)

I’ve had to really think about how to handle an issue that’s come up since I haven’t really wanted any openly political posts.  But there is something I can’t quite ignore, and that’s the issue of sexual assault as it pertains to the US’s two top candidates for president.  Let me disclose right now that I despise them both for many reasons, from Trump wanting to ban Muslims from entering the US while Hillary wants to increase bombing them overseas, to how neither of them respect the value of work by Americans (Trump loves to outsource, Hillary wants to “recruit” 5mil Americans to work for free because of what she calls our “love for volunteerism,” and of course both of them try to make it sound all positive and cheery so get people to sit there letting them pull the wool over our eyes).  So please don’t take anything here to mean that I’m defending one over the other.

Trump is a nasty little man who thinks that he can grab women “by the pussy” because he’s so rich that no one would stop him (and since he can out-lawyer just about anyone and since any plaintiffs, who’d try to do anything?), while Hillary Clinton tosses her husband’s victims, the whole decades-long trail of them, under the bus while making excuses for him.  Both sides have sexual assault (one with the added problem of someone who should have a vested interest in standing by women instead turning on them when her husband hurts them), and both sides have had excuses or been in denial.  Both are pieces of shit who this country should be deeply shamed to have put in the top seats.

America, how did it come to this?!

Americans have been voting for who is less bad between the primary two candidates rather than who is best among all the candidates (note to non-Americans: We don’t even put a our candidates on the ballots in all states, meaning you sometimes can’t even vote for a particular candidate, including the one I am voting for), and we’re reaping what was sewn.  We  need to stop voting for the candidate who we think is  little less bad than the other, stop arguing over if they’re equal in terms of badness when they’re both bad, and realize that they’re both bad.  This is how we have this race to the bottom happening.  We have taught our politicians that as long as they can be just a smidge not as bad as the other idiot, then they’ll win.  That has landed us in a situation where we are now in a free-fall and have a crisis on our hands.

Both candidates are so bad that few people really feel good about giving either one their vote, and only do so grudgingly to try to keep out the one they think is a little worse since there’s a belief that a third party can’t win (wake up: the reason for that is the other people sharing the sam mindset).  When we reward being just a little less bad so richly, we land in a position where we’re arguing about which side with sexual assault and apologism is preferable instead of standing up mad and saying that we shouldn’t give any candidate who commits assault or makes excuses for it out support.

And no, folks, Hillary throwing her husband’s victims under the bus to defend him isn’t any better than what Trump’s done, and it doesn’t matter that she wasn’t the one to personally rape someone.  She’s no better than Trump because she adds to what victims are going through by calling them liars or otherwise blaming them to absolve her husband,  and what she’s done is shown us that she won’t truly stand by us–she had the chance to stand by some women who were hurt, and added to their pain instead.

How can we expect our young people to absorb the message that sexual assault is wrong when they see that you can rape women and still be elected, or rape women and have your wife add to the trauma and both end up back in the White House?  Our young people aren’t seeing consequences for sexual assault.  Not only are white 19-year-olds who rape babies and white Stanford swimmers able to rape babies and get away with it, richer white people can assault and rape women, and make excuses, and be handed the keys to the White House.

We need to start demanding that our candidates be better than rather than just not as bad.  We need to start holding them accountable for harming others, and defending those who harm others.  When the best reason people have for voting for someone is because the other person is worse, that’s adding to the problem.  We need to take a collective stand against people who rape and people who defend it.  We need to stop teaching our kids that there are no consequences for assault by showing them that there are consequences, and maybe it’s just a dream at this point, but maybe we can do that by showing them that you can’t do those things and end up president by electing someone else.

Oh, and something else to keep in mind if you want to defend one of them over the other?  They’ve been friends for ages.  Trump even sat the Clintons in the very front row for his wedding, seated them with his family.  Clearly these people are okay enough with what the other side has done that they remained such good friends.  Think about this: No matter how much you loved your best friend, would you remain friends with that person if it was known that that person assaulted a bunch of people?  Of course not.  I bet you can’t even stomach the thought of keeping such a person in your inner circle.

America, and the world, really needs to start enforcing consequences for assault.  But instead we’re ignoring and excusing it so hard that we’re about to have a rapist or a rape-excuses and rapist back in the White House either way.  I can’t believe this, and I’m scared for my daughter’s future because of it (by the way, according to my six-year-old about three minutes ago who should be in bed since it’s nearly 4am, she wants Jill Stein and Jane Sanders to be madame presidents together).

Here’s my last ditch effort to get people to reject both rapist and rape-defender, especially when accepting one or the other is based on the thought that one side isn’t “as bad” as the other about rape, especially when no one at all is even trying to claim that Trump isn’t a rapist or that Bill isn’t a rapist or that Hillary hasn’t excused her husband’s raping:

When you have two rotten apples, are you really going to eat the one that looks less rotten, or would you walk away and find another apple that’s not rotten?  If not-as-rotten isn’t good enough for apples, then why is it good enough for a future president?



NOTICE: Normally I don’t sensor comments unless they’re blatant spam, but I’m not open to the comments on this being about debating which of these two to vote for.  The problem is we’re become so lax about making penalties for rape and so accepting of making excuses for rapists that we’re about to end up with one on the White House either way, and that’s a problem.

Chapter 15: Monday, May 30, 2011, PART 1

Yes, another recap!  See?  I AM trying to keep to this weekly-again schedule.  I am, I AM!  And this time, I brought some Equestria ponies with me!  Rainbow Dash’s face says it all.  By the end of this, you may need to bandage your head too from all the head-desking:


(Directory of recap links)

Do you think Erika will ever come up with something to say other than “dick”?  No?  Me neither.  It’s just that when Christian says “my dick,” that may as well be “myself” since he is one.  (She does say “cock” later, when trying to be all romaaaaantical, but it doesn’t work.”

After we get a state of the dick bit, there’s a sex scene that is unremarkable but for one thing, and that’s the one and only thing right in these books.  Condoms are used, even though Grey smack-talks them.  He promises if she stays awake through it, he’ll tell her some stuff about when he was a kid.

Well, there’s a problem.  This sex scene is so boring I’m literally falling asleep.

Ana stays awake better than I am, and he tells her his mother was a “crack whore” and is dead.  That’s not really fulfilling his promise, but we all know he’s a lying liar who lies a lot.

Grey has a dream he describes as “happy, angry days” in an orchard with Elliott, yet in the dream, the happy part is him punching his brother.


I’m not kidding, my dear readers, this book made me fall asleep.  Continuing:

Blah blah dream about “romping” in the orchard with the brother he was beating.

Grey wakes after a “lie-in” until 7am, and considers starting to have sex with Ana, but, for once, reconsiders, and so Ana goes unraped.  (People are free to wake each other this way if their relationship is at a point where both people consent to this ahead of time, but Ana hasn’t had the chance to tell him it’s okay if he wants to.)

He grabs Ana’s clothes and takes them to the kitchen to have Mrs. Jones crash them.  She “smiles knowingly” about him having a woman in his bed for the first time.  Like the rat-bastard he is, he mentally snarks her about if she’s capable of making breakfast for two.

Erika really needs to stop making 7am and 8am sound like super-late times to sleep in.  Give it a rest.  Grey spends ALL NIGHT fucking.  He won’t believably be up by 5am ready to work every day.

This next bit could have been excised more than much of the rest of this book.  Mrs. J. lets him know Ana’s clothes are hung in his closet, another knowing smile, Grey mentally snarking her.  Pointless.

Back to business now, I guess.  Let’s see if the story moves instead of stalls for word count.

Grey thinks about what a good fucker he is.  He’s the best fucker.  He has all the best fucks.  He’s got the conceit of a certain orange man with tiny hands and all the honestly and care for people as a certain woman who doesn’t wear it as good as the Kool-Aid man.

Oh yeah.  I went there.  I’m ashamed that my country has presented two idiots as the best this country has to offer just as Erika should be ashamed that Grey and Steele are presented as the best romantic erotica has to offer.  Both are patently false (we have better who should be on the ballot, and Steele-Grey are in an abusive relationship), but their fans would rather keep their heads in the sand.  (I’m hearing this in John Oliver’s voice.  Your head-voice may vary.)

Since all Grey cares about is fuckeddy fuck fuck fucking, after he showers, while Ana is still asleep, he puts his last condom in his pocket because you never know when you may need one of those when you go back to the living room to talk to your house servant, Mrs. Jones.

Grey blows her off, and calls his business partner, Ros, who is openly “pissed” as his “hands-off work-ethic.”

We have an actively-likable character!!


We are punished for liking Ros by some pages obviously meant to prove to us that Grey really does work even though Ros snarks on him again for not actually doing any work.

Go, Ros!  Go, Ros!  It’s your birt’day!  Go, Ros!


No, Grey doesn’t know business, and Erika is a moron.  Grey and Erika, this one’s for you:


I knew the time would eventually come to use that.

Erika gets it because she’s stupid enough to have Grey order Ros to immediately liquidate someone else’s company, and have him believe if can be done right that moment.  uh, liquidating companies takes months and requires court approval since there are investors and share-holders whose rights have to be protected.

After telling Ros fine, he’ll show up to work for once, he cancels because Ana’s awake and his peen hasn’t been for a dip n the magical vag for a few hours.  She’s there, she’s wearing little, so…

Borat Sexy Time.jpg

The sexiness of Borat is a million times more than Grey, and that?  That right there ain’t sexy.  But I digress.

Grey tries to impress us by trying to make it sound like he gives a shit about Darfur, and like Forbes is amazed with him, and talking to Ros about a gala coming up, and he decides on the spot, without asking Ana, that she’s going with him.

I think the Grand Galloping Gala will be more fun.  Even though it ends in disaster for all involved. Poor girls. So excited at first….

As I’m SURE you know by now that sex happens here.  For once Ana genuinely initiates and seems excited.  Grey doesn’t care to make sure she’s lubricated before just shoving his teeny weeny into her, and when he ejaculates, it’s “spectacularly.”  Because of course.  He’s got all the fucks, all the best fucks, and all the best cums.

FML for reading this.

He’s just so beguiled be her, y’all, though he knows nothing about her, and all he really intends in his planning is finding places to fuck her.  That’s it.  Screw the gala, which is a work event.  That weekend, American Idiot is in Seattle!  In real life, the date of that gala had that show.  It’s amazing, and she might enjoy it.  Thinking about what she might enjoy would require thinking about her though.  He only thinks about how he can use what’s between her legs.

He ends up mad that she’s still going to see her mom, and more pissed that she initiated sex.  In keeping with the My Little Pony fun…


Ana tries to tease him to smooth things over on the way to take a shower, and he tells her, “I thought you were going to have a shower?” and no, he’s not going with her, and yes, she’s hurt.

Um, Ana?  Darling?  He wants sex with you, but at the end of the day, that’s all he wants.  You’re property he’s pissed on, and his brand of love is actually possession.  He’s not really turned on by you initiating anything.  He’s wildly excited by making you have sex when he initiates and you don’t want it.

Grey makes another phone call that means nothing since we have no context for it, but he starts to think about his “crack whore” mother.

I have vague memories of the place: drunks, hobos, and crackheads shouting at us on the streets; the seedy dive we called home; and a young, broken woman, the crack whore I called Mommy, staring into space while she sat in a drab, grimy room filled with stale air and dust motes.

I want to kick Grey in the balls.  His mother was a poor women hinted at being a teen mom, and she’s broken, as even he admits, and she’s clearly lost and depressed, yet every interaction he’s recalled with her have been her doing loving things.

I’m at the end of my patience with this fucker for today, and understand fully that when Jenny Trout and the das_sporking crew said they were fed up and wanted to quit, but were pushing on for the readers?  Yeah.  I thought those were empty words.  It’s one thing to read this trash, and another to write about it.  If I didn’t want to finish this for the people I know who read and comment on Facebook, I’d soooooooo kiss this crap good-bye and let my blood pressure go back to normal.

More on this chapter next week.  Because I love all y’all now!

Chapter 14: Sunday, May 29th, 2011, PART 3

Oh, goody.  Are you all lucky.  I shall open a bottle of some sort of booze to celebrate the continuance of Grey: The Color of Bruises.

In the last year, during which life became far too busy, a couple things have happened that make me laugh.  First, you remember how Erika’s husband and I got into a Twitter-gument about whether or not Blackberries are actually common in Vancouver?  You know, the one where I live?  Well, those phones are being discontinued.  I don’t deny that those phones still sold a lot of units in 2011, but a lot of that was due to those phones being the phones given away for free with two-year contracts.  The phones people were laying out money for were iPhones.  And now they’re gone.  Before the second movie can come out, the books are all dated, and now-obsolete technology is heavily featured as cutting edge even though its sales were already on the decline when the books were published, and would never recover.

The other thing that happened.  We all know that the next two movies have been filmed, right?  And there’s still one more book fans and Erika want made as a movie?  Well, Jamie Dornan has made it clear he will not make anther Fifty Shades movie.  Though he says it’s because he’s “done Fifty Shades forever,” I suspect that the reasons his wife won’t see any of the movies has something to do with it.  The reasons aren’t given, beyond him saying, “Why would she?” but that doesn’t cut it.  If her husband is this romantic, living character, why would she not want to see it?  I would not be surprised at all if she has a lot of problems with the movie, and doesn’t want to see her husband portray an abuser who is glorified.

Back to business, shall we?

(Directory of recap links)

Last time, last year, on Grey:

Grey decides he has a right to force his fingers into Ana’s vagina in front of his family, and when she exercises her right to say no, he decides, in anger at the denial of what he sees as his rightful property, that he needs to go beat her.

I’m gonna say it: People who love these books because they think he’s just so hot and sexy and that he loooooves her are people who are fucked in the head.  I’m not even beating around the bush there.  I want people who think this is romantic to tell me why the hell a man who beats a woman for not opening her legs for assault (she doesn’t want it and giving in out of fear isn’t legal consent) is some great, desirable romantic hero.

Ladies who are fans: This isn’t romantic.  It’s not respect.

Lads who are fans: Go fucking die.

After all the rapists who’ve gotten off last year, all the excuses made, I’m not mincing words anymore.

Grey leads Ana to the boathouse in his parents’ backyard, and Ana asks him to “Stop, please.”  She wants to take her heels off.  Think he’ll let her?

“Hell. I smack her ass, hard. “Keep your voice down!” I snap, and stride across the lawn.

“Where are we going?” she wails as she bounces on my shoulder.



“I need to be alone with you.”

“What for?”

“Because I’m going to spank and then fuck you.”

“Why?” she whines.

“You know why,” I snap.”

This isn’t a woman who is turned on.  This isn’t a woman being coy.  This is a woman who doesn’t want to be hit and fucked.

Once in the boathouse, we get a scene that I recognize all too well from time with my own abuser:

“Please don’t hit me,” she whispers.

I don’t understand. I stare down at her blankly.

“I don’t want you to spank me, not here, not now. Please don’t.”

But…I gape at her, paralyzed. That’s why we’re here. She lifts her hand, and for a moment I don’t know what she’s going to do. The darkness stirs and twists around my throat, threatening to choke me if she touches me. But she places her fingers on my cheek and gently skims them down to my chin. The darkness melts into oblivion and I close my eyes, feeling her gentle fingertips on me. With her other hand she ruffles my hair, running her fingers through it.

Fans privileged enough to not have been abused may see this as Ana wanting sex.  This is really Ana trying to avoid being hit by turning the sex she know she won’t get to turn down into something where she at least won’t get the snot beaten out of her.

After a moment of kissing, he tells her that her saying No to him turns him on.  No, he’s not turned on by any assertiveness.  Her saying No pisses him off.  What turns him on is her “disobedience” gives him excuses to hit her.

As sex starts, he tells her she is not to orgasm, or he will hit her.  Who cares that she meant it when she pleaded with him not to do that.  Who cares what she wants, right?  He verbally reinforces to her that her vagina is his property.  Now maybe I”m rusty on the constitution, but don’t we have some amendment banning the literal ownership of human beings?  If someone isn’t consenting to the slave-role in sex-play, consent that can be revoked, then it’s literally owning people, right?  Right.

So he owns her, literally as property, and has no qualms about beating her after she begs him not to.

Here’s proof that Ana didn’t make a move out of desire:

“Well, Miss Steele, I feel better for that—but I still want to spank you.”

“I don’t believe I deserve it, Mr. Grey, especially after tolerating your unprovoked attack.” She is crisp and formal.

“Unprovoked? You kissed me.”

“It was attack as the best form of defense.”

“Defense against what?”

“You and your twitchy palm.”

See?  I told you it was her way of not getting hit.  How is this consent?  Does he have to hold an actual gun to her head for people to see that not all rape has a woman fighting back?

He gives her a pair of lace panties to wear, and this will matter in a few minutes.

His sister, Mia, finds them just after they got their clothes back on, and Mia is sot wee that does can’t tell what they’ve been up to.  On the way out  of the boathouse, Grey hits Ana’s ass with Mia there, and Ana manages to smother any protestations.  Because respect, I guess.

“The pleasure is, and was, all mine.”

“I’m well aware of that, Sir,” she teases.

“Oh, you two are sooo sweet!” Mia coos as we head into the kitchen.”

*head desk*

They return to the house, Ana and Kate an argument about something Grey can’t hear, and Mia and their mom gush about how they “never thought [he’d] find someone.”  Because they thought he was gay, and if you’re gay, you will never find love because those relationships are invalid.  That’s not my take on it.  That’s how is is in these books.  In the regular trilogy, Mia, I think it was, told Ana she’s relieved her brother has a girlfriend since they feared he was gay.

This piece makes me sad:

I catch her staring at me under the flicker of a street lamp. She’s anxious. Something’s wrong.

“What?” I ask.

She is quiet at first, and when she speaks there’s an emptiness in her voice. “I think that you felt trapped into bringing me to meet your parents. If Elliot hadn’t asked Kate, you’d never have asked me.”

Damn. She doesn’t understand. It was a first for me. I was nervous. Surely she knows by now that if I didn’t want her here, she wouldn’t be here. As we pass from light to shadow under the street lamps, she looks distant and upset.

Grey, this will not do.

“Anastasia, I’m delighted that you’ve met my parents. Why are you so filled with self-doubt? It never ceases to amaze me. You’re such a strong, self-contained young woman, but you have such negative thoughts about yourself. If I hadn’t wanted you to meet them, you wouldn’t be here. Is that how you were feeling the whole time you were there?” I shake my head, reach for her hand, and give it another reassuring squeeze.

There’s a mind-fuck happening here.  They’ve been dating all of six days by this point.  No, he probably wouldn’t have taken her to meet his parents yet.  Ana is so innocent about everything still that this upsets her.  It shouldn’t.  It seems like she’s trying to keep up with Kate.  If Kate meets Grace and Carrick so fast, then Ana should meet them as fast.  Kate’s relationship with Elliott has been shown to have more substance to it while Ana and Asshole have sex and abuse.

But she’s right.  She only met them because Kate was going to meet them, and he felt like he had to to save face.

His reaction is what gets to me.  He boldly lies to her about how no, he really wanted here there, when we know he didn’t.  He tells US that she should know she wouldn’t have been there if he didn’t want her there.  But we know, WE KNOW, he didn’t.  He just wanted to save face, and ensure easier access to her body.

She’s filled with self-doubt because he doesn’t respect her and constantly tells her that he owns her.  Why should she have confidence?  I think she knows that he’s bullshitting her about how she’s so strong.  Her sole value is in sex.  He gave her every reason to feel unwanted and to feel bad when she was there.

“Is that how you were feeling the whole time you were there?”

Yes.  YES.  Forcing her into sex, threatening to hit her, hitting her anyway…  How can she possibly feel like she has value as a human being when she’s not afforded the basic courtesies of one?

His words are how abusers make their victims think they really are loved.  Even though he hits me, he must love me because he tells me nice things, even though his words otherwise and his actions make me feel like I’m worthless.  But he says he loves me!  When you’re scared of your partner, it’s not unusual to focus on the things you want to believe.  Trick yourself into thinking the rest is all in your head because of the times he says nice things.

My anxiety surfaces. Does she want out? If she goes to Georgia, her mother might persuade her to find someone more…suitable, someone who, like her mother, believes in romance.

I have an idea. She’s met my folks; I’ve met Ray; perhaps I should meet her mother, the incurable romantic. Charm her.

“Can I come with you?” I ask, knowing that she’ll say no.

“Um, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she answers, surprised by my question.

“Why not?”

“I was hoping for a break from all this…intensity. To try to think things through.”

Shit. She does want to leave me.

“I’m too intense?”

She laughs. “That’s putting it mildly!”

I’m quoting this because it will come into play later.

We do get a bit that is a clear attempt by Erika to make Grey seem like he cares about consent.

I want her to do this [sign the contract] willingly—I don’t want to force this on her. Well, part of me doesn’t. The rational part.

He doesn’t care about what she’s willing to do.  Re-read this post alone if you need an example of that.  And don’t overlook how he admits part of him wants to contract onto her.  A part of him that he is aware of ants to force her.  Rather than making him look like consent matters, we actually see him admitting part of him wants to RAPE HER.  Of course all of him wants to, and he does it, but he is still aware that he has a desire to force.

Fan-bloody-tastic.  This is romance today….  I had a review of Sacred Blood insulting my male protag for not “having a spine” because he didn’t fuck the female protag.  Respect wasn’t romantic.  This shit–Christian Grey–is romantic.  I can’t even string together the words for how upsetting this is.

If you believe this, tell me if you’d support a man treating your daughter like this.  If you have a daughter, see if you can tell her, “I hope you find someone like Christian Grey,” without following it up with “so you can shatter his nuts with your knee.”

They get back to the Escala, and she tells him she’s too tired to do anything more.  Naturally he thinks to himself about how, if she wasn’t wearing undies, he’d go ahead and take her in the elevator.  It doesn’t matter that she just said she was too tired.  I get that Erika is intending this to be about how much he desires her, but that’s not what we’re getting.  We’re getting someone who only cares about a hole in someone’s body that he can shove things into without caring a damn about what the actual owner has to say about it.  Erika is demoting Ana to an object.

So she’s tired, and he wants sex.  Who will win here?

“Sooner you’re in bed, sooner you’ll be fucked, and sooner you can sleep.”

It’s going to happen.  She’s already fucked, but she’s going to get the other kind of fucked, and it really doesn’t matter that she’s tired and wants to go to sleep.  But she knows what’s going to happen, and since she doesn’t have the energy for what she wants, she’ll try to find middle-ground.  If she can’t own her own body, perhaps she can negotiate a bit.

“Okay, what’s going on here? Is she reluctant? Too tired? What? “Don’t you want to fuck?” I ask, confused.

“No,” she whispers.

“Oh.” Well, that’s disappointing.

Not like that will stop him.  Continuing on:

She swallows, then says in a small voice, “I want you to make love to me.”

I stare at her, bemused.

What exactly does she mean?

Make love? We do. We have. It’s just another term for fucking.

No.  No, it’s not.  Love-making implies loving someone, and love means having some respect.  No wonder Grey doesn’t understand the difference.

“I want to touch you.”

Fuck. No. I step back as the darkness closes around my ribs.

“Please,” she whispers.

No. No. Haven’t I made it clear?

I can’t bear to be touched. I can’t.


“Oh no, Miss Steele, you’ve had enough concessions from me this evening. And I’m saying no.”

“No?” she queries.


I’m giving Ana a pass on asking him to allow something she knows he doesn’t like because the example he’s setting for her is that just plain doing what you want is allowed.  She’s stopping at just asking.

But the bigger issue in this is that he thinks he’s made concessions.  When?  Where?  How?  Not beating the tar out of her in the boathouse, despite threatening to and slapping her on the way out anyway? She didn’t want to be hit, and how dare she.  He wanted to hit her, so should have that right, dammit!  But when she simply wants to touch him at all, he gets mad and shuts that shit right down.

“She’s watching me warily and I think about the fact that she’s leaving tomorrow and I won’t see her for a while. I sigh. I don’t have the energy for this. “Look, you’re tired, I’m tired. Let’s just go to bed.”

“So touching is a hard limit for you?”

“Yes. This is old news.” I can’t keep the exasperation out of my voice.

“Please tell me why.”

I don’t want to go there. This is not a conversation I want to have. Ever. “Oh, Anastasia, please. Just drop it for now.”

Her face falls. “It’s important to me,” she says, a hesitant plea in her voice.

“Fuck this,” I mutter to myself. At the chest of drawers I pull out a T-shirt and throw it to her. “Put that on and get into bed.”

Fair question, Grey.  She’s asking because she wants to understand you.  A desire to understand a parter is a good thing.  You should try it sometimes.  Give that a try, and maybe be less of a pissy asshole who throws clothing at someone for daring to want to understand.  If you want to know why she has no self-esteem, that right there tells you the answer.  You made her feel like she’s wrong for wanting to understand you.

While brushing her teeth, she makes an attempt to be playful.    From Ana’s perspective in Fifty Shades of Grey, fans see her attempted playfulness as her wanting sex.  ZOMG, see?  She wants it! Except…does she really?

“Imagine if I said to you that you couldn’t touch me,” she says, as argumentative as ever.

She’s not going to let this go. I sit down on the bed. “Anastasia, I’ve told you. Fifty shades. I had a rough start in life—you don’t want that shit in your head. Why would you?”

No one should have this shit in their head!

“Because I want to know you better.”

“You know me well enough.”

“How can you say that?” She sits up and kneels facing me, earnest and eager.

Ana’s right.   She doesn’t know something basic because she doesn’t know him, yet he said she knows him well enough, and she knows it’s wrong of him to say that.  How can he possibly say she knows him well enough at this point?

Just to recap his “rough start in life”:

He was born to a poor single mother who was abused herself.  He says he doesn’t even remember much, yet every single memory he does have are of things like his mother making him a birthday cake, or singing a song that she sang when she was happy.  His first negative memory was of her dead.  At the age of four, he was adopted out of the ER (because that’s how it works in America, I guess) by a doctor and given a life of incredible wealth and privilege.

I really can’t summon up any sympathy here.  My child had a rougher start to her life (we were homeless, had times of literally nothing in our vehicle to eat, nights with no heating in an area with snow on the ground, birthdays where we couldn’t even afford the stuff for a cake for er, and so ignored her birthday hoping to shield her from ho little she had, and before this, she saw shit with my own mother that…let’s just say that your mother threatening to murder you and then aiming a gun at you later that night…)  Anyway, even your standard good childhood has more bad in it than Grey’s, here the worst of it was he was poor, and then his mother died, the end, time to move on to being insanely rich.

I swear, this books keeps triggering memories I’d rather forget.  And that makes me angry that an abusive asshole with a charmed, privileged life thinks that not having a rich start to life makes him entitled to beat people.

This section makes me want to drink.  But no, I was the child of alcoholics, and I learned very young that drinking when angry isn’t good.  Since I’m this things called AN ADULT, I won’t do what I know I shouldn’t.  Grey should learn a lesson from me.

The rest of this chapter has Ana trying to be playful, to break him out of a mood that is dangerous.  He’s mad at her, she knows that means being hurt, and so she, like earlier, goes on the defensive by trying to turn him on in a way that won’t get her hurt.

Grey bites, and even though she’s tired, he’s horny again.  Off to the playroom to grab some things, and back to his bedroom.

“Trust me?”


Never trust someone who makes you feel bad for wanting to understand them.


And with this, the chapter ends.  The sex is a fade-to-black scene.  So we are spared that much.

These posts take me about six hours.  I will try to get back onto a weekly schedule with them, but I do have a lot of work to do before Halloween.  Come November, and I belong to the writing world once more.

“Fuck Portlandia”

Without a doubt, Portlandia is very popular.  It has driven a massive influx of people to this area not as tourists, but to live.  I’m not going to mince words here: Portlandia has damaged this area and given fans a strong sense of entitlement.

The latest news, which is finally starting to break into the mainstream today, but has been known locally for a couple days, is that In Other Words, a small, local bookshop that has contractually allowed filming there for the last six years, has cut the show off entirely.

Let’s back up a bit and head back to the beginning.

When this show first started, the economy of Portland was balanced in such a way that young people could come here and survive without needing to work to the bone.  Feminists had a home, transgender folks had a home, book-lovers had a mecca, and there was a general sense of calm.  Sure, there was a stereotype about this area that it’s a bunch of hick lumberjacks,  stereotype so close to the mark that there’s still pride in mustaches and flannel, but marginalized groups weren’t the butt-end of jokes.  The locals have long taken pride in supporting craft breweries, artisans who create in their attics, bookstores that can’t afford to sell below sticker price, and lots of authors who hail from this area.  Despite its imperfections, Portland was a land where creative types had an outlet and the time to make things, and there were plenty of people willing to keep money local by supporting them.

Then Portlandia came along, and, “from a place of trust,” was granted access to some small independent store.  However, even from the early days of the show, it was know that “the fact that it is a spoof might not always be clear.”  That starts the problem

Frasier is a semi-local show, having been set in Seattle.  The show was cleverly written to ensure the audience knew that the butt-end of the jokes were the socially-inept, rich, out-of-touch Crane brothers, and that they and their ensemble were not representative of your typical Seattle resident.  Frasier didn’t make Seattle a trendy place to live because the jokes were very much kept focused on a very small ensemble, and ultimately could have taken place in almost any other large city.

When it comes to Portlandia, though, “[a]re we laughing at Portland, or laughing with it?”  (This article gets something wrong that we now know to be horrifically wrong, which will be addressed below.)

Portlandia differs in that the primary two, Fred and Carrie, are meant to represent actual locals.  The people who reside in this area are the ones to be laughed at.  We, the citizens that the show relies on to exist at all, were to be “gently” mocked for the progressive things that make this place different, such as concern for the environment and acceptance and protection of marginalized groups of people whose very existence results in less than equal privilege, including transgender people, blacks people, poor people, and women.  In school, mocking the different kid is seen as bullying.  On television, it’s seen as worthy of Emmies and Peabodies while the groups of people who have been historically treated as second class, beaten, raped, and killed are told that it’s just a joke.

It goes beyond this, into a sort of harm that race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity can’t protect the locals from.  It’s not just hurt feelings or fueling bigotry anymore.

Jake Stein of Arts.Mic claimed that publicity is publicity, and that it can only be good because he claimed to see an economic boost to the city.  His example of this is a bike tour of downtown Portland.  Frankly, it takes financial privilege to be able to make this claim now.  Already, at the time of his article, real estate was rising, and problems were brewing.

Perhaps the most tangible way Portlandia has hurt Portland through its brutal mockery is that the locals now seem like silly side show attractions in a land of amazing breweries and coffee, which has driven a massive influx of people to this area to chase down the Portlandia life.  One such episode was even a native advertisement meant to plant the seed of utilizing Zillow to buy homes in Portland.  It’s not a laughing matter when 58,000 people move to one city in one year (July 2014-June 2015), and that is largely being driven by people who believe that Portlandia is how Portland really is, to the point that real estate agents use the show to draw people here.

Ah, but that must mean good stuff for the economy!  Well, no.  Let’s say each of those 58k people in one year are broken into family units of six.  Yes, that’s large, but it still leaves a need for about 10,000 units.  How many cities have 10,000 vacant apartments of any size, vacant houses of any size?  What this causes is a housing shortage, and a housing shortage means that prices go up.  This is just one year.  Since Portlandia started such a boom here, we’ve had a few more years with that kind of growth.  There hasn’t been time for developers to buy up enough adjacent single-family homes to tear down and put high-rises on.  So up, up, up with the prices.  From November 2014 to November 2015, Portland rental rates went up 11.1%.  This isn’t a one-year event since Portlandia happened.  Rents are still rising at a nauseating rate.  And still rising with no end to it in sight.  But wages didn’t increase.  In fact, the influx meant that locals were more desperate for work, resulting in employers knowing if one person didn’t take that undesirable job at minimum wage, there were fifty others who would.  Ah, but it’s the Portlandia experience.  How quaint.  How cute.  At last for those who chose to come here to chase the Portlandia dream and can leave.

Minimum wage of $9.75 an hour doesn’t cover the median rent, $1,662, of a Portland apartment.  Transplants who come here to buy while working at a remote firm in San Francisco or Manhattan, or trust fund brats, don’t need to worry about this.  For the locals, it creates the requirement of two jobs if you want to eat as well as pay the rent.  For the locals, the rising rents and not enough jobs has resulted in something called urban camping becoming legal.  The solution, thus far, has merely been to make it legal to sleep on sidewalks.  Urban camping.  Such a trendy name that I’m surprised the show hasn’t run with it yet and skewered homeless people, many who have jobs, but can’t afford to compete with wealthy yuppy fans.

It’s easy for Portlandia co-creator Carrie Bownstein to claim that “Portlandia is a mindset” to handwave the show’s effect on the area. In fact, I admit that, when I read that, I mentally slapped her for her claim that she’s “annoyed” that a show that was created to skewer Portland is being seen as a show about skewering Portland.

I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.  She’s annoyed that the show she co-created for one thing is doing that one thing.

I just…

I can’t.

I can’t even.

Prior to being made the butt of jokes, Portlanders were on with life and the delicate balance between creation and survival.  But Portlandia just had to mock the city in a harmful way that put it on the map, made it trendy, and Carrie Brownstein dismisses it.

Well, it should come as no surprise that In Other Words finally had enough with the anti-feminism, painting feminists as bitches and demoting transgender women to mocked men in drag to make transgendered people and women into jokes.  I have to many posts on this blog to start linking to to demonstrate why this is an issue that angers me so much.  Suffice it to say that we women are already seen as property to be had and raped and judges will ask why we didn’t keep our knees closed, and transgender people are still fighting to be seen as their gender with judges humiliating them in courtrooms.

Based on the store’s posts and above-linked articles, the final straw was when the show demanded the removal of a Black Lives Matter sign in the store.  In Other Words is in an area with a higher percentage of black people.  Removing that sign because a show about Portland doesn’t want to acknowledge Portland and the people in the direct vicinity of the store didn’t sit well with anyone.  So In Other Words kicked the show out.

But would you believe that this damage and insult isn’t the end of it?  The straw that caused me to decide to address this mess was after reading comments on Facebook by non-local fans who say that “bitchy feminists” standing up for marginalized people “proves” that the show is right about Portland, and that the owners of the bookstore are just pissed that people here aren’t reading books anymore, and the store and people here need to shut up because it’s funny stuff.

Well, nothing I’ve posted about, real things that people here are dealing with, is funny.  There’s nothing funny about people losing homes and having their identities turned into jokes.  There’s nothing funny about fans of the show thinking they’re entitled to laughs at the expense of people telling people to stop.  Jokes and teasing are only fun if everyone involved is genuinely enjoying it.  Well, Portland’s not enjoying it.  My friend and her young son who lost their home literally just last night aren’t enjoying that they can’t find housing.  The artists who are being priced out by transplant yuppies aren’t enjoying it.

And I can tell you, personally, that locals sure as hell aren’t enjoying people who have, at most, visited downtown once upon a time telling us online what people do or don’t do here based on a harmful show.

We sure aren’t finding it funny when we’re told, when trying to set the record straight in self-defense, that we’re delusional.  I won’t even quote what someone said to me when I responded to his comment about In Other Words just being mad that people here don’t read anymore, but it ended with me, after bringing up Powell’s and the booming author scene, being dog-piled by people claiming that I just don’t want to see Portland for how it really is, that Portland is too like Portlandia or else it wouldn’t be so funny and Carrie Brownstein, who lived here for a while, wouldn’t have set the show here.  (Carrie doesn’t live here now, and isn’t the one living with the damage she’s causing.)

Portlandia has, among other things, set the people here up in such a way that we either stay quiet and let women and transgender people be made into jokes, or, if we speak up, we look bad for it because we’re “being just like the show” and making Portlandia more real and funny.

Portlandia has set Portland up to lose.  In Other Words:

To disclose: I am not upset over housing instability of my own or anything.  My life is remarkably unaffected, all things considered.  I own a large home thanks to generous assistance from my mother-in-law, we are food-secure, my daughter has privileges few kids in the US are fortunate enough to have, and I don’t have to work for an income for us to be stable, which means I an fortunate enough to work on artistic endeavors.  It’s not from a personal place that this show angers me, but from a human one.  Bad things happen, and are allowed to keep happenings, when those who are privileged enough to be above personal harm stay silent instead of using our privileges to help others.  So think twice before calling me “butthurt” or something.  And if you want to call me an SJW-feminist-bitch-taco again, then that’s a badge of honor.