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Time to Raise Hell

It’s difficult for me to articulate the rage I feel about our current government’s willingness to commit murder, yes murder, against millions of its citizens by denying them basic access to health care. Everything I want to write feels so radical, so hyperbolic. And yet…
DH and I tried watching Man in the High Castle a few months back. I was not impressed. In academia, the thing you study tends to say a lot about you. In Don DeLillo’s WHITE NOISE, for instance, the main character is a professor of “Hitler Studies” (but he doesn’t speak German!), and watching this show made me feel like this main character, a voyeur into my deepest, darkest impulses to protect my own white privilege. It felt gross. Not a fantasy I wish to indulge in, obviously. Anyway, there’s a scene where one of the main characters stands beside a freeway and all this ash is falling around him. He turns to the man who had pulled over to help him fix his flat tire, and the man explains that there’s a concentration camp nearby where they incinerate the elderly and the disabled. “A drag on the state,” he says.
 
I think about that scene a lot on days like these. The flippant way the man so easily accepted the death of…how many? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? A drag on the state.
 
I think of the time I switched jobs and was pregnant and could not get affordable insurance because I was a “pre-existing condition.” A pregnant woman at 31. A walking pre-existing condition. Imagine.
 
A drag on the state.
 
I think of my grandmother who worked so hard for most of her life so that one day, a generation later, I could go to college and prosper, pay taxes, contribute to society. My grandmother who is now dependent on Medicaid for her care because what middle class family can afford to pay 3K a month for her long-term care? Even if our family pooled our resources together, we could never afford such a price tag on our own. And yet…this is what Republicans would ask of us.
 
A drag on the state.
 
The Republicans bill only has 17% of public approval, and why? Because all of us have stories like these. Stories where we had to go without a doctor’s visit because the burden would be too much. Because we had to choose between paying a heating bill or getting that weird lump, pain, consistent cough, checked out. We wanted something better and the ACA made steps toward that. Yes, it’s not perfect, but anything that shoves 33 million people off of their insurance is not a viable alternative. It is a humanitarian crisis.
 
Or perhaps it’s..a drag on the state?
 
For many Americans today who rely on the ACA, the Republicans might as well have pushed them into the gas chamber. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Call your Senators. Make their lives hell. Tell them what you want for yourself and your family. We are the wealthiest country on this planet, but history will judge us by how we treat our most vulnerable populations–by how we treat our sick and our elderly.
 
Raise hell. Contact your Representatives.
https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Cover Reveal, Entangled Scorched, Erotic Romance, Giveaway, Ireland, Romance, The Captain's Rebel, Uncategorized

St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway!

St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway!

This is it. My biggest giveaway EVER.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the Upcoming Release of THE CAPTAIN’S REBEL with me! One lucky newsletter subscriber will win a $200 Amazon Gift card. A second lucky subscriber will win signed copies of ALL of my books. Sign up for my newsletter today to participate!

My newsletter goes on March 17th St. Patrick’s Day. Make sure you sign up for a chance to win!

Also, check out the cover for THE CAPTAIN’S REBEL. *Heart Eyes*

This is my first erotic historical romance, and I’m writing as C.B. Halverson. I can’t wait to share this book with you all!

Available April 3rd…

THE CAPTAIN’S REBEL

Never surrender.

Land. Power. Influence. Mary O’Malley knows these are the only things that matter in her war-torn country. Determined to win back her ancestral home, she must embark on a journey across the Atlantic disguised as a cabin boy. But her ruse brings her under the control of a dangerous sea captain who demands from her the one thing she will never give—complete and total submission.

Captain Richard Grant runs a tight ship, and he didn’t claw his way up through the ranks of the Royal Navy to be undone by a headstrong Irish girl hell-bent on jeopardizing his mission and his crew. If she insists on dressing like a man, then she can take his punishments. He demands obedience, but his insatiable need for her leads to a complex game of sex, desire, and dominance not even he can control.

Awakened by the passion Grant stirs in her, Mary finds herself falling for the stern captain. But when her false identity leads to rumors of her spying for the French, she must choose between her love for Ireland and the man who commands her body—and her heart.

“I was hooked, and I could not stop turning the pages until the end.” – Stacy Reid, author of Accidentally Compromising the Duke

Are you ready to rebel?

Available for pre-order at Amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada
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Uncategorized

Special Guest Post: Wren Michaels Author of FRIEND ZONED

My friend and mentor Wren Michaels is taking over my blog today. Please give her a warm welcome, and check out her new book FRIEND ZONED!

I’m so excited to share that my latest novel is now available! It’s very special to me because it’s the first contemporary romance I’ve ever written. As some of you may know, most of my books have been paranormal romance. But I got the itch to write something completely different, and this story is a result of NaNoWriMo a couple years ago. I love writing diverse books and trying to write outside the box. I fell in love with these characters. And I hope you do, too!

I give you …. FRIEND ZONED.

friend-zoned-ebookAll’s fair in love and war until one person gets stuck in an arranged marriage.

Catherine ‘Cat’ Marek has a sociology paper due on dissecting the laws of attraction. Project Panty Drop will case study two different men; one she’ll go after in person and the other she’ll attempt to charm online. Hiding behind her beauty, she tries to cover up her true geeky side, and the fact that she’s partially deaf.

Jaidev ‘Jai’ Sankar needs to knock out a paper for his online sociology class. After an encounter with the Texas Tease, Cat Marek, he decides Project Friend Zoned will be the ultimate topic, proving a guy can remain in the friend zone with a girl he finds attractive.

As Cat puts the moves into overdrive, Jai finds it harder to remain in the ‘friend zone’ with her. The only thing keeping him from letting go is the fact his hardcore Hindu parents have a wedding scheduled for him. When neither can resist their attraction, the fight no longer becomes about their papers, but about the freedom to love each other.

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Her face haunted me. The adorable dimple pitted in her cheek caught my eye first. Sexy full lips that folded into a gorgeous smile just about took my breath away. I did my best not to continuously stare at her, managing to throw just a few glances here and there hoping she got the message. But she didn’t take the bait. Instead, she gave me a ‘too good for you’ glance while she plowed down a server on her way to the bathroom, probably to restock the toilet paper in her bra.

The Texas Tease, I called it. Lots of girls at UT had it—this one in particular—in spades. Shorter than my normal tastes, her alluring doe-eyes caught me off guard. The memory of her petite frame sashaying as she worked those sexy, black pumps played on a loop in my head. Along with the way her long, brown hair bounced with every step like a damn shampoo commercial.

She drove me insane, and I didn’t even know her name. At least Mick confirmed she was a student at UT, apparently in one of his Economics classes.

She intrigued me, sitting in a sports bar drinking beer while her prissy friend sipped wine. I even caught her glancing at the Longhorn game on the big screen. A cute girl who likes beer and football? Every guy’s dream. If only she weren’t a snob. But, I’d put her in her place. And I had the perfect plan.

The ring of my Skype alert disrupted my plotting. Incoming message from Kanti, my best friend.

Kanti: Hey …

Me: What’s up, brat?

Kanti: You busy?

Me: Never too busy for you.

Kanti: Stop with the sugar, you’re giving

me diabetes.

Me: LOL Better get used to it.

Kanti: Ugh. Don’t remind me. Quick, what

do you want for your birthday? You got the

new Mortal Kombat release already?

Me: Yeah, of course I do. But you don’t

have to get me anything. You know that.

Kanti: I can’t NOT get you anything.

Me: Tell me you talked to your parents and

the wedding’s called off. That would be an

awesome present.

Kanti: Seriously? You know that isn’t even

in the realm of possibilities. So shut it.

Me: I can dream, can’t I?

Kanti: Yeah, and I know what you do in

those dreams. Not even going there.

Me: You’re such a bitch. Why do I love you?

Kanti: Because we’re best friends.

Me: Well, there’s that.

Mick yelled through the door. “Jai, you comin’ down or what?”

“In a minute,” I replied.

Me: I gotta go. Kegger tonight and we’re

hosting.

Kanti: Email me and let me know what to

get you.

Me: Fine.

Kanti: LOL Kiss Kiss

Me: Whatever. LOL TTYL

I closed the lid on my laptop as Mick flung the door open.

“People are starting to arrive. You’re on keg duty first.”

I tossed him a nod. “Yeah, I know. I’m coming. Just finishing up some notes on my Sociology project.”

“I thought you dropped that class?” He folded his arms, leaning against the door-frame.

“I was going to until Professor Wilkinson agreed to let me take it online, since it’s the same time as my cinematography course.” I pulled out a notepad. “What’d you say that chick’s name was again? The one we saw at the bar today.”

“Catherine Marek. But I think she goes by Cat.” Mick shrugged. “Why? I thought you said she was a snob, and you weren’t gonna pursue her?”

“Oh, I’m not. I got my sights set on another girl I’ve been talking to for a little while. But I think that Cat chick will make for a perfect target on my sociology paper.” I wrote down her name and underlined it five times. “I’m calling it, Friend Zoned.”

Mick laughed. “Oh, this ought to be good. What’re you gonna do?”

“It’s what I’m not gonna do that’s going be the best part. I’m going to act like I’m interested, then when she takes the bait, I’ll friend zone her. I’m going to prove that a guy can be sexually attracted to a girl who’s interested in him and still remain only friends. I’ll be the best ‘friend’ she’s ever gonna have.”

abouttheauthor

Wren hails from the frozen tundra of Wisconsin where beer and cheese are their own food groups. But a cowboy swept her off her feet and carried her below the Mason-Dixon line to Texas, where she promptly lost all tolerance for cold and snow. Fueled by coffee, dreams, and men in kilts, Wren promises to bring you laughter, sexy fun time, and action that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The easiest way to her heart is anything to do with the Green Bay Packers, Doctor Who, or Joss Whedon.

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Feminism, Teaching, Uncategorized, women

The Killer in Me

I’ve heard this question a lot lately:

How do we reach Trump voters?

I hear it in my activist women’s group. I hear it over dinner with friends. I see it on Facebook and on Twitter. I read about it in New York Times think pieces. My reactions to this question are as predictable as you would expect.

Anger: Man, fuck those guys.

Philosophical: Let’s examine the existential crises of said Trump voters.

Buddhist: We need to have compassion for those suffering Trump voters.

Marxist: We need to examine the shifting socio-economic labor conditions that led to Trump voters.

And Back to Anger: No, seriously, fuck those guys.

One trend I’ve seen a lot in these think pieces is how threatened Trump voters feel by so-called “identity politics” that leave them feeling “left out” by progressive aims. Essentially, these are a call for BLM protestors to tone it down because, hey, guys, a suburban woman is starting to feel uncomfortable. In essence, placating butt hurt Trump voters is a re-centering of whiteness and white supremacy. Time and again, the “real” story here is why rural Trump voters feel so disenfranchised in Nowhere, Wisconsin…but not how many black voters were disenfranchised in Milwaukee by the voter ID law or purged from voter records in North Carolina. It’s hard to give a shit, honestly. Even as I sit here on my own little hill in Nowhere, Wisconsin and watch as factories close, as technology and robotics take over decent, middle class jobs, as heroin use rises to pandemic proportions, and the jobs that do exist are left to vastly underpaid, exploited, freelance undocumented workers. I need to care. I must care. As a community member, as a citizen, as a Marxist critic, as a Buddhist. And yet, when the question comes up in my women’s group, I have to resist rolling my eyes and heaving a heavy sigh because inside all I’m thinking to myself is…man, fuck those guys.

And it’s not because I’m a cruel, uncaring person. It’s because we circle this question over and over with no concrete answers. The only answers I am hearing is that black folks, LGBT folks, feminists need to chill the fuck out. And, well, I won’t be watering down my feminism any time soon, I can tell you that much.

I called up my BFF, a long-time practicing Buddhist and my personal spiritual advisor in all things Buddha-related. I asked her, “How can we have compassion for Trump voters but still want to dismantle the patriarchy and racism?”

She paused for a moment, and said, “That’s the ultimate question, isn’t it? How do you love a racist?”

She told me a story of a recent confrontation that had occurred in her life. Someone close to her had said something blatantly and unapologetically racist. My friend called her out in a calm way, clearly articulating why that utterance was racist, but the result was this person didn’t talk to her for weeks. It was painful, the tension between them. She finally sat this person down and said, “I told you this was racist not because I’m angry with you. I told you this was racist because I love you.”

Showing up to dismantle the oppressive systems of racism and sexism is the ultimate act of love and compassion. How many of us called off Thanksgiving because we couldn’t stand to be in the same room with our Trump-voting relatives? How many of us have unfriended and blocked people who voted for Trump? How many of us have ducked out of the break room and avoided conversations with our coworkers because we know they voted for Trump? I’ve done it all, and when I sit down and really think about why, it comes back to betrayal. Deep, soul-crushing betrayal. And I can only feel that way because of love. Love! Can you imagine?

Four years ago, I had developed a close and very cozy relationship to vodka. I don’t know how it started, but I can tell you how it ended—with my husband telling me I had a problem. That cocktail on Friday night had somehow crept into a nightly routine. And that nightly routine bloomed from one to four. It simply wasn’t healthy. Of course I lashed out, made excuses, accused him of trying to control me. But he said, “I’m not telling you this because I’m trying to control you. I’m telling you this because I love you.” Sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, et al. are sicknesses of the mind. As addictive and seductive as vodka. The cure for so many personal ills, but ultimately destructive. When we show up to directly dismantle these systems of oppression, it’s an incredible act of love. It’s a commitment to the best side of a person.

But how? How do we do this work? My friend recommended I return to bell hooks, a social critic who writes extensively on racism and sexism AND is practices a fluid Buddhist-Christian path. I sat down to reread Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope. I thought to myself, “Okay, here we go. I know bell hooks is going to give me some good strategies.” I dove into the chapter “Teaching Race and Racism,” and I was struck by the extent to which bell hooks works to dismantle her own internalized racism in this essay. She writes how she begins every workshop by working with students on their earliest memories of learning about race and racism. She writes, “I have found confronting racial biases, and more important, white-supremacist thinking, usually requires all of us take a critical look at what we learned early in life about the nature of race” (26). Note the phrase all of us. Teacher and students. Students and teachers. It’s what Freire calls critical pedagogy wherein students and teachers engage in a critical process of the interrogation of ideas. It requires the teacher position herself as the student…and the student position herself as teacher.

The question, “How do we reach these Trump voters?” suggests that teaching racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia are a list of talking points that we can, if gained access by Jedi mind tricks or some other sorcery, we can somehow “deposit” into our racist relatives. If we’re somehow nice, make cupcakes, talk in gentle tones and hypnotize them with a PowerPoint, we’ll somehow convince them to knock it off. But I think the work we need to do first is the kind of work bell hooks suggests. Before we can reach anyone and engage in this critical work, we have to dismantle the racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia in ourselves.

I was recently at a conference with a friend of mine—a woman of color. I watched as she folded her beautiful curls into a bun, and I felt this wild compulsion to touch her hair. Me. After years of reading, after writing a dissertation informed by postcolonial theory, I wanted to touch my friend’s hair. How many times had I taught Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village” and pored over the passage wherein he discusses the pain of black objectification? And yet, here I was, standing in our hotel room and suddenly aware of the strange imperialist impulse running through me. It was there, inside of me as sure as my white DNA. Learned, internalized, systemic, and oppressive racism. And if I cannot overcome the racism in myself, how can I reach a Trump voter?

Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh famously wrote, “Peace is every step.” This means that peace can only begin within ourselves. We cannot work for peace when there is a war in our minds. If instead of turning outward, what if we started the work of dismantling oppression within ourselves? What if white people made a goal this month, this year (!) to read or reread bell hooks, Edward Said, Ta Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison, Debbie Reese, John Lewis, Judith Butler, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Gloria Anzaldúa? What if we took a hard look at the ways in which we have learned systems of oppression and analyzed the ways in which they now play a role in our adult lives? What if the revolution we’re looking for is not “out there,” but in ourselves? And then, and only then, armed with love, we might be able to answer that question.