Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rambling: On Diversity, Sensitivity, & the Non Existent Frontier

It baffles me that I can't even say "race & religion are the final frontier" of bullshit in romance. It isn't a frontier at all. We beat each other TO DEATH over sexism, transmisogyny, gender roles, yet we NEVER talk openly and honestly about racism and cultural / religious appropriation -- only in small corners of Twitter. Racial issues hit the fan SO infrequently, and when they do there be no "think pieces" nor are there a hundred people "weighing in" as seems to be the norm with EVERY OTHER FUCKING ISSUE in the genre. 

I'm obviously great and totally happy with us being tolerant and trying to be the most informed people we can be. We should. We should strive to teach and to learn. I mean, with the frequency we discuss it all -- and fight each other over genre gender issues and sexuality labels/non-labels -- I literally feel, sometimes, like I discuss & think about all this stuff more than I ever did taking actual Gender Studies and upper level Sociology in university. Again, it's great we're all so aware, but ... while everyone is worried about who has the right to write what and are HYPERsensitive to the role of this person or that person or what "Queer Romance" means to each person -- and sometimes they're nasty, knock-down, drag-out fights -- we so often and constantly just walk right by casual and not-so-casual racism and religious insensitivity. No one is discussing it. A handful of people get upset over one of these issues, occasionally, and the genre as a whole ignores it.

I mean really.

A Hispanic character is more than a general character with a few italicized Spanish words with a mother who’s illegal; an African American character is far more than ebonics and a “chocolate dick that contrasts so beautifully with the bottom’s ivory ass cheeks.”

And religious characters… Not just a hijab, an up-tight cross bearing martyr, nor just kosher boys who’ll throw over their respective ideals for a relationship.

Race and religion are SO significant, there’s such a sense of identity found within being a Brooklyn Jewish person or a WASP from New England or an African American Pentecostal from Georgia or an agnostic Native American from Noxubee County, MS. Culture is SO important. Hell, gay culture is a huge part of M/M, so I dont have to explain at all why culture is a huge part of characterization and even plot. 

Many authors rely heavily on a sense of place or setting for the cities in which they base their stories. And they’re done with such seamless and flawless understanding of the areas that you can smell the air, see the buildings. You can sense the camaraderie in a small gay bar in a small town with a group of LGBT men and women in these books so much that you feel like these people are your friends.

So. Why in the actual fuck can the same sense of respect for and sensitivity to culture and language and family ties and sense of community not be given to these characters? WHY is your character using racially insensitive language unless it’s a necessary part of narration? Why is your character casually anti-semitic unless you have a big picture plot going on? For your main character to accept his/her romantic interest calling him/her an insensitive term or to just convert to make the significant other more comfortable, you’re saying “it’s okay for people to give away huge chunks of their identity so long as they keep their man happy”. That makes me wanna just scream FUCK THE PATRIARCHY. What the fuck kind of message is that in a genre that’s BUILT around diversity? How rich does it make your character to let a part of their personal identity be something so easily sold out for an obviously unhealthy relationship?

I GET IT. Some brown and black skinned people don’t want to be known for their skin color, some gay men don’t like labels, and some Jewish people convert, BUT in the infinite and often unchecked privilege in the romance writing community, it’s standard and accepted that everyone gives up anything “for love” and since 8 out of 10 books have a strapping white “alpha male” MC, of course one gives up anything to be with HIM.



IF you can’t see that it’s not okay to treat religions and race as just minor character traits like eye color, if you can’t put in some actual research or ASK A QUESTION, why even bother? It surely can’t be helping your sales to write a Person of Color who abandons all sense and reason and sense of self for their one WHITE true love. That's undertones and overtones and 50 shades of insensitivity.

NO ONE is saying you can’t write a Muslim Pakistani character just because you’re a white atheist any more than they’re saying you can’t write a gay male character because you’re a cis het female… But do it fucking justice, man. ESPECIALLY if you know what it is to be marginalized. 

We have SUCH diverse readership. Authors have done it with gay/bi characters since M/M started... If you feel you aren't portraying a PoC right, e-mail one of your friends/readers. Same with religion. If you don’t know more about a religion or its practitioners or an ethnic group than what you’ve seen on an episode of Law & Order, you should definitely ask more questions. You don't have to let them beta your work and you don't even have to let other people dictate HOW you write... but it srsly takes 5 seconds to ask a quick question.

I'd, personally, rather say "I'm trying not to, but I’m probably going to sound like an ignorant fuckhead here, probably, so PLEASE help me: [insert question]" and have a FRIEND who understands I'm not TRYING to be an ignorant fuck head, that I’m honestly trying to educate myself, correct me than drop a book full of ignorant fuckheadedness and offend THOUSANDS of people.

Because, while romance and fiction aren’t always political, you do step into a more political arena when you’re writing about minorities. And if you can’t take the time to be sensitive, to ask a question, it’s hard to come to your defense when there’s backlash. Because in 2016, with our level of understanding of SO MANY issues in our little corner of the internet, our understanding of pansexuality and demisexuality and homoromantic asexuality and non-binary zes & zers, -- hell, we are even lauded for being more sensitive about body image issues, at times -- we should be SO much more capable of being racially, culturally, and religiously sensitive.

And that this isn’t a conversation anywhere but in a quiet corner of the twittesphere is really disappointing.

But, hey, PLEASE continue to write more diverse characters. Don't let anyone tell you not to or that you aren't allowed to. We need more diversity, as our rainbow is full of not only many different types of sexuality, but people of different races, backgrounds, religions. And I think our readers -- certainly my friends I’ve met through this genre -- love the individuality of our characters. But remember to come at it with respect. I know I’ll line up to read what you do.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Small Towns, Big Hearts 99 CENT SALE


April 22 - 25 get your small town love story fix with Borrowing Trouble and my my recent release Simple Things, as the eBooks are only 99 cents at the U.S. Amazon store!  



Borrowing Trouble 

Simple Things

Friday, April 15, 2016

WANT cover & excerpt

I decided I wanted to let my hair down a bit and write something kinda smexy, a little dirtier than my usual. It took on a life of its own and has become a little more romancey than I thought Trevor and D ever would. But... how could they not when Trevor really wants the D and D wants him right back.

by Kade Boehme
Cover by Dar Albert
Coming May 2016

Trevor McEntire and Dante "D" Vargas have been dancing around each
other for years. D knows he shouldn't keep crossing the line with his best
friend's little brother. Trevor knows he shouldn't keep setting himself up
to be hurt by D's hot-and-cold routine. That'd be easier if every meeting, 
every taste didn't leave them still wanting more.



I had shit to do, tonight, and I was already running behind. I didn’t have time to do more than go change clothes and swap out rides. I sure couldn’t pull up in the Trans and not expect a hundred questions, most of which would be from all the other car enthusiast co-workers who’d be around that would notice more than one of the not-so-street-legal additions.
I made quick work—as quick as one could with Saturday traffic being what it was in Miami Beach—of going back to my house outside town and switching out the Trans Am for my old ‘88 Blazer. While the Trans Am was the car I’d fuck, the Blazer was the old girl I’d marry. I babied the hell out of her since I got her as a fixer upper during rehab two years earlier.
Once again I made the trek back to the city, toward the nightclub I’d be meeting my people at. My family, not the hellions I’d been running with earlier in the night. Thankfully the venue was mixed so some of this sex and fire in my blood could get burned off. I’d only just gotten inside good and made my way toward the bar before a big hand pulled on my shoulder, turning me to face a familiar face.
    “You look like you’re in a good mood,” my brother Evan said as he clapped his hand on my shoulder and pulled me into his customary bro-hug.
    I spat out the mouthful of hair I’d inhaled when he’d pulled me in. “Shit, Ev.” I pulled back, scrubbing a hand over my face to alleviate where his hair had been. “Do something with your hair.”
    He chuckled. “Sorry,” he said, not sounding very apologetic. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a black hair tie, deftly putting his shoulder-length hair up in a man bun, or douche bun as I called it. I rolled my eyes. “Don’t hate me ‘cuz my hair is luxurious,” he repeated his favorite line I always received when I gave him shit for his long locks.
    “Whatever you say, Fabio.” I turned to the bartender and ordered a Jack and Coke. After paying up, I turned to find Evan still standing, arms crossed and brow cocked. He knew better than to try to intimidate me with his size, I’d outweighed him since I moved back last year and we both stood relatively the same height, six-foot-one respectively. I didn’t know why he seemed to be trying, though, because I wasn’t brooding and I’d come to this damn bachelorette thing—not that he or my boss Jill, one of the brides, gave me much choice.
“So. You’re all smiley. What gives? Jill practically had to force you to come tonight so I was expecting more of your whole pouty-face thing.”
I most definitely was not smiley. That my being in a decent mood had him suspicious spoke to what a miserable bastard I must have been to be around lately.
“Get laid or something?”
I scoffed. I wish. Laid. It’d been a long year since that happened, but I wouldn’t discuss that with him. I barely wanted to think of the last time or my reasons for not hooking up since, much less tell Evan about it.
But I couldn’t exactly tell him why my body was thrumming with adrenaline, why my heart was pounding. The second best thing to sex to me still had me buzzed, even as my sexy Trans Am sat cooling in my garage.
“Just in a good mood.” I shrugged.
The skeptical once over he gave me ruffled my feathers. I know I wasn’t exactly a joy to be around all the time but damn, I wasn’t a miserable bastard. I didn’t have to protest though. His body relaxed almost immediately when my boss, Jillian, and her fiancee Denise walked over to greet me. He smiled broadly behind their backs when I went rigid as the tipsy brides-to-be passed out hugs and air kisses to me.
He hadn’t been entirely wrong about my not being excited to come out tonight. Not that I disliked my boss. She’d served in the middle east with Evan, had my brother’s back when it really counted, and she had given me a job, no questions asked, when I came back from Jacksonville with my auto body repair trade certificate in-hand. But the thought of getting drunk with her was awkward because she was not only my boss, but the ex of the biggest crush of my life.
And that right there was what I didn’t want to think about. Dante Vargas—D, as he was called. She’s a lesbian, so being jealous of D’s ex was a futile waste of emotion, but that they had a kid together always served as a reminder she’d had a relationship with him. And I was more jealous of that than I was the fact they’d actually been intimate.
Denise saw me squirming under my boss’s attention, Jillian excitedly telling me about all the people who’d shown up that I’d know, that she grinned like Evan but took Jillian’s hand. “Come on, sweets. Let’s let him actually see everyone that showed up.” She started pulling Jillian toward the stairs the led to the club’s upper level.
I knew I liked her.  
My brother ordered himself a beer while I sipped my Jack and Coke and got my game face on. I could do this. Everyone would be drunk. And it’s not like D’s kid would be there so the reminder they’d been together would last only as long as a drink or two before the don’t-give-a-shits really kicked in.
I scoped the dance floor of Vida, one of Miami’s newer clubs. The mixed crowd put me at ease, boys danced with boys, girls danced with girls, and straight couples peppered the crowd. The dark of the large room was only broken by the occasional strobe light and black lights that lined the ceilings and bars.
“Ready to go up?” Evan asked.
I nodded and followed as we made our way to the second of three floors. The second floor was a little brighter and slightly quieter, the music low and conversation a steady hum. I could still feel the bumping of the bass from downstairs through the soles of my Timberlands.
We made our way around the bar in the middle of the room to a table—or several tables that’d been pushed together—where a large group of familiar faces sat. I knew most everyone there, though some were new to me.
I fist bumped my way around the table, shook a few hands, greeting co-workers and some people I knew that’s served with Jillian, Evan, and D. Judging by the flushed faces all around and the general level of noise coming from everyone, I’d say the majority had imbibed more than a little in the extra hour it’d taken before I showed up.
Evan took a seat close to Jillian and Denise and pointed to the chair next to him. I sat, gratefully, and eyed the chair next to mine with a black leather jacket slung over the back. I look over to my brother in question but he’s immersed in conversation with a guy I only vaguely recognize.
I shrugged to myself and took another long drink of my Jack and Coke, letting it warm me through and build on the buzz I’m still feeling from tearing up the streets only an hour ago. I try not to be too pleased with myself, knowing any silly grins will give me away to anyone looking and I most definitely don’t need my brother, who’s been babying me too long, to get all pissy.
My thoughts were interrupted by the happy cheers erupting at the table when the chair beside me shifted. I wasn’t ready at all.
I knew my eyes must have been wide as D took a seat next to me, his characteristic flirty grin stretching wider, clearly pleased to see I’ve arrived. He sat his drink down and passed me one. “Jack and Coke right?”
Mother. Fucker.
I silently took the proffered drink from his hand and set it down on the table in front of me, doing my best not to gawp at him.
I looked accusingly at my brother and Jillian who were paying me zero attention. No one said a fucking word about D being back in town. I’d never have come out had I known.
The worst part was how viscerally I reacted to his presence, the deep down need I felt, even though I hadn’t seen him in so long. It’s like it was always there, the chemistry that flowed between us. And I was smacked over the head with it before he’d even completely settled in his seat.
I looked around the table and no one seemed to be as flummoxed by his arrival as I. I was the only one surprised by his appearance, his delivering me a drink—how had he remembered my favorite?
The conversation started back up, a couple of people drawing D in, but I couldn’t think with the heat of his body so close, the scent of his cologne drifting around us. I slammed back the last of my drink, then turned up the one he’d delivered. He never attempted to draw me into conversation, just kept smirking and looking at me from the side of his eye.
Thankfully one of the cute twinks in a Club Vida t-shirt came around to see if anyone needed a new drink and I ordered another. I attempted to join in my brother and Jillian’s conversation but kept zoning out. Then D moved his leg, just slightly, and his pressed against mine, touching from our boots to our knees. Right about then I was glad to have had a few drinks in my system because the heating of my body cause a flush I could blame on the whiskey.
Anger joined in the mix of adrenaline, intoxication, and arousal—anger at D’s presence, anger at his daring to flirt, and most of all anger at myself for responding so readily.
My mind flashed back on the last time I’d seen him, stretched out naked on his bed, sleeping with just his strong back and the rise of his firm ass visible, the rest of him covered in luxurious cotton sheets. I still felt a bereft devastation I couldn’t remember the previous night, not even so much as a kiss. I’d awakened in his bed, after praying and hoping for years for just one more night. But I’d slipped out after taking that mental picture, crept into the muggy pre-dawn Miami morning, and not looked back as a taxi drove me home to shower off the scent of him. I knew, as the sun rose and I fell into bed, D would have risen by then, and he never called or text messaged; he got on a plane and flew away.
And now, I wanted to be righteously indignant, but my brother couldn’t know. My boss, D’s ex and the mother of his child, most definitely could not know. And here I was, not moving my leg away, privately reveling in the way his warmth seeped into my body through our denim clad legs.
    As my cock rose to a stand, I swigged back the drink the barback had delivered and decided this madness couldn't stand.
I elbowed Evan. “Hey, I’m gonna go unwind a bit.” He spared me a brief glance and nod. Evan knew I loved clubs, loved to dance. That’s why I came out. I’d toss back a few drinks, take it to the dance floor, then crawl home. Alone. Always alone. Because D’s touch had ruined me a year ago—hell, really six years ago—and I was the idiot who kept living like a fucking monk because of it. I had no delusions that D had done the same.
Which kindled the flames of my indignation higher and fueled me on as I shoved my chair back and wandered off to the bar for a drink I most definitely did not need. I’m not a light weight, by any means. Guys my size don’t get fucked up off a couple cocktails. But the few I’d had, plus the natural high of post-race adrenaline had me feeling right.
While I finished off the drink I’d ordered I caught D’s gaze settled on me, even as he engaged others in conversation.
I dropped the drink down and went back downstairs to the dance floor. It took me less than twenty seconds of moving my hips, dancing with abandon, to have a semi-nude guy grinding on me. I loved it, the freedom, the way the music vibrated inside me. Thank goodness it was replacing that other pounding inside me, the need for D.
After a good ten minutes of steady dancing, sweating, and getting turned on by the press of my dance partner’s clothed cock pressing against mine, I had to give in to my need to piss. Before I left, the man poked out his full bottom lip, pouting sweetly then looked toward the back bathroom in an invitation I’d love to take him up on, but knew I wouldn’t.
Not yet. And certainly not with D there.
I shook my head and the guy shrugged, but before I could leave he pressed a dirty, grape-flavored liqueur kiss on my mouth, giving my cock a rub for good measure. I shuddered bodily at the feeling.
Shit. Why’d I have to be so fucking lame?
I wished I could say I wasn’t that person, the one who fixates. But I am. I wanted respect, I’d throw everything I had at getting it. If I wanted to be the best at the drag strip, I worked my ass off. If I wanted a man, I was like the lone wolf who’d imprinted on his mate. And I wasn’t sure when or how I’d done that with D, but I needed to fucking get that fixed. Because I couldn’t have D. He would be flying back to his new life in Boston after this wedding and I couldn’t let my life and my psyche be flipped upside down by the man again.
Pushing my way through the crowd I made my way to the line for the restroom. I could use any of them as there were five in the club, but I prefered the one I could lock behind me, thank you. So in line I waited. Thankfully it was a short line, this time. My turn finally came and I put my hand to hold open the door after the lady in front of me exited. She gave me a flirty smile which I did not return. But before I could go in, a palm rested on my lower back.
I turned my head to find D standing there. His eyes were half-lidded, the dark brown boring into mine, full of heat and promise that had my wide-open mouth unable to form words.
Maybe it was the booze or the music, but when he pushed me in and slammed his mouth on mine, I couldn’t protest. I didn’t even fucking want to.

More coming soon. ;)