Happy release day to Masquerade: Oddly Suited!

After months of anticipation, this year’s IWSG anthology, Masquerade: Oddly Suited, has finally been released! The other nine authors and I have been hosting a bloghop for the last few weeks, featuring our characters in masquerade and bonus flash fiction stories. We’re also still holding a blog tour.

My story, “Charleston Masquerade,” is set in Charleston, South Carolina in July 1767 and features a character I created when I was all of 5-6 years old and had shelved for over a quarter of a century.

Find love at the ball…

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual Traveler or a virtual date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…

Available April 30, 2019
$14.95 USA, 6×9 Trade paperback, 200 pages, Freedom Fox Press
Young Adult Fiction: Romance – General (YAF052000) / Paranormal (YAF052050) / Contemporary (YAF052020)
Print ISBN 9781939844644 eBook ISBN 9781939844651
Order through Ingram, Follett Library Resources, or publisher direct
$4.99 ebook available in all formats

“READ IT! There is something for everyone! Do you want Love? Got it! Do you want vampires? Got it! Do you want time travel? Go it!” – Jessica Renfro, book reviewer

“A diverse collection of m/f YA clean-reads romances to transport readers between the past, present, and future, from the sea bottom to the virtual clouds.” – J. Lenni Dorner, author

“Stories that will chill your heart, bring smiles to your lips, and keep you turning pages.” – Beverly Stowe McClure, author

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database; articles; monthly blog posting; Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram groups; #IWSGPit, and a newsletter.

Freedom Fox Press
A division of Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
P.O. Box 383, Pikeville, NC 27863-0383

During our Masked bloghop, I was hosted by Jennifer Lane. This is my character Jinx Wildblood unmasked:

Iynx Praxithea Wildblood, called Jinx, has always been different from the others. She comes from a Deist family; both of her parents attended the University of Bologna; and she and her sister Myrina are receiving an equal education at the Ursuline Academy in New Orleans. So when they come to Charleston to spend a summer with a well-heeled family, conflict is inevitable.

At a masquerade ball, Jinx makes the acquaintance of a mysterious young man who identifies himself as Zedekiah. From the moment they begin interacting, it’s obvious Zed is just as much of a black sheep as Jinx, from an equally unusual family. Jinx would love nothing better than to spend the entire evening in Zed’s company, but when her very prim and proper chaperone forces them to separate, it doesn’t seem likely they’ll cross paths again. Jinx has no idea what he looks like unmasked, or if Zed is his true name. Likewise, Zed doesn’t know her true name either. Will she and Zed be able to find an opportunity to meet again and rekindle their attraction?

Carrie-Anne Brownian, who also writes as Ursula Hartlein, is a proud native Pittsburgher who lives and breathes all things historical. She has a degree in history and Russian and East European Studies from UMass–Amherst, and aspires to a Ph.D. in Russian history. Her stories always feature characters who are outside the norm in some way, and lots of Sturm und Drang.

You can find me at:


Bloghop Schedule:

L.G. Keltner http://lgkeltner.blogspot.com/
Jennifer Lane http://jenniferlanebooks.blogspot.com
Deborah Solice http://thefabulistdotblog.wordpress.com/
CD Gallant-King http://www.cdgallantking.ca/
Elizabeth Mueller http://elizabethmueller.blogspot.com/
Chelsea Marie Ballard http://www.facebook.com/masqueradeoddlysuited
Carrie-Anne Brownian https://carrieannebrownian.wordpress.com
Myles Christensen www.myleschristensen.com
Anstice Brown http://dustingthesoul.com
Angela Brown http://publishness.blogspot.com/

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble

Since I never use my computer on Shabbos, I unfortunately won’t be able to attend this live panel, but I’ll be most happy to answer any questions either before or after.

Masquerade Ball Bloghop, Day #7

Since the Masquerade: Oddly Suited anthology releases on the 30th, we the contributing authors decided to host a bloghop to build anticipation. Each day, one of the writers hosts someone incognito, in keeping with the anthology’s theme.

How it works:

Each day, our guests will appear masked, with some clues provided in the form of a flash story featuring the characters (independent of the stories appearing in the book), three fun facts about the author, and an image of her or his protagonist in masked form. On release day, we’ll all reveal ourselves.

Fun facts about my person of mystery:

In order to capture the right emotion in my writing, I try out a character’s feelings on my face and body. I had no idea I did this until a non-writing friend laughed at all of the faces and gestures I make as I write!

A TV show (Prison Break) inspired me to start writing fan fiction, which led to writing novels.

I write mostly on the weekends, on the sofa, listening to music without lyrics (classical, jazz, movie soundtracks).

Sharp air fills my lungs as I stride toward Andie’s front door to pick her up for the party. This early cold snap has blown in uninvited, moving our baseball and softball practices to the indoor facility too soon. Welcome to Ohio.

Andie skips out and closes the door behind her before I reach the porch. She turns her face up to mine, fresh and pink in the glow of the porch light. Her pastel-striped knit hat fans out her long, blond hair over the collar of her coat.

“You sure your parents are cool with you going to a senior party?” I ask.

She rolls her eyes. “Alex will be there, so he’ll protect me.”

Her older brother’s the starting quarterback for USC. “Your brother’s in town for Christmas?”

“Just for a couple of days, then he has to head back to L.A. before the bowl game.”

When she shivers, I reach for one of her mittens, tug her closer, and lean down to kiss that irresistibly soft and rosy cheek. “C’mon, let’s go.”

I hold the passenger door open for her, and she snuggles into the seat. “Oh, it’s so warm in here!”

I hustle to my side of the car, praying, Don’t break down again. I left the car running to help my chances. As I back out of her driveway, I boast, “Vlad’s got a good heater.”

Her eyebrows scrunch. “You named your car Vlad?”

I nod.

Her head tilts. “What kind of car is this?”

“Chevy Impala. A very old Impala,” I add.

After a few seconds, her giggles fill the car. “Vlad the Impala!” She snorts. “You’re a genius, Colt.”

My dad was the clever one who came up with the name, actually. My smile fades. This will be our first Christmas without him.

We arrive at my teammate’s house and climb out of Vlad.

Her mitten envelopes my glove. “Are you okay?”

I realize I haven’t spoken the entire car ride. “Great.”

The worried look in her hazel eyes remains, sparking a stab of guilt in my chest. My denial wouldn’t impress my sport psychologist.

“Just thinking about…my dad,” I admit.

She slows her stride. “Holidays must be tough.”

I cringe. After meeting her at a charity softball game in September, I’ve already cried once in front of her, on Thanksgiving. Not cool.

The kicky beat of a pop song draws my attention to the house, where my teammate stands in the now-open doorway. “Turner!” Nate hollers. “Get your ass in here.”

Nate is a senior, like me, and my favorite pitcher to catch. Check that—Andie’s my new favorite pitcher. I lead her into the house.

“Hey, Andie.” Nate snatches the hat off of her head as she crosses in front of him.

She spins around and yanks her hat back, right before elbowing him in the gut.

“Oof.” Nate doubles over, but his grin lets on that she went easy on him.

Andie tosses her coat and hat onto the growing pile on the floor. “You need your own girlfriend to harrass,” she tells Nate as she shakes out her hair. “Oops. You don’t have one.”

“You’re supposed to put in a good word for me with Scarlett!” Nate fires back.

She smiles. “Depends on how you behave tonight.”

This. This is why I love being with an athlete. Andie’s sassy, low-maintenance vibe is a total turn-on. After my coat joins the outerwear mountain, I follow her into Nate’s house.

Posting Schedule:

Thur. April 18th: L.G. Keltner http://lgkeltner.blogspot.com/
Fri. April 19th: Jennifer Lane http://jenniferlanebooks.blogspot.com
Sat. April 20th: Deborah Solice http://thefabulistdotblog.wordpress.com/
Mon. April 22nd: CD Gallant-King http://www.cdgallantking.ca/
Tues. April 23rd: Elizabeth Mueller http://elizabethmueller.blogspot.com/
Wed. April 24th: Chelsea Marie Ballard
Thurs. April 25th: Carrie-Anne Brownian
Fri. April 26th: Myles Christensen www.myleschristensen.com
Sat. April 27th: Anstice Brown http://dustingthesoul.com
Mon. April 29th: Angela Brown http://publishness.blogspot.com/
Tues. Apr 30th: Book Release and The Unmasking (Just follow links above)!

Meet the new Robespierre

Like clockwork, yet another pre-publication book has come under fire from the idpol outrage culture. This time, there’s a delicious Schadenfreude twist: The victim was part of the mob bullying Amélie Wen Zhao into pulling Blood Heir, and served as a sensitivity reader for Big Five publishers. Hello, Robespierre!

Just like Ms. Zhao, Mr. Jackson is also part and parcel of this woker than thou SJW culture, and so wanted to get back into the group’s good graces. Of course, he lists his freaking pronouns in his Twitter bio!

My Spidey sense tingles when I see pronouns. I’m sure some people are just innocently copying what they see modelled and aren’t raving SJWs and TRAs, but a huge percent of the people I’ve blocked for my own safety list pronouns. Just saying.

Yet again, WTF does “the book community” even mean? It sounds so creepy and cultish! Mr. Jackson’s tearful thanks to Big Brother is only aimed at this loud minority of people looking to find “problematic” content in every little thing.

He also didn’t follow his own advice on strictly staying in one’s own lane and only writing about people exactly like oneself:

Mr. Jackson’s website also ran a kowtowing apology to Woko Haram in the wake of the struggle session:

While there are some things it can be difficult or painful to read (e.g., racist and anti-Semitic epithets, lynching and rape scenes, loss of a grandparent), they cannot actually hurt us. Words are not literal violence. I bear zero lasting damage from reading anything which emotionally distressed me.

Shockingly, Mr. Jackson’s publisher went along with his cowed request.

Yet again, the mob leapt into action after reading an angry ARC review on Goodreads. Almost none of the people ranting against A Place for Wolves actually read the book. In the wake of this drama, I’ve discovered, thanks to Jesse Singal’s four-part series on YA Twitter culture, that many agents are in on this too—keeping blacklists of writers deemed racist or problematic; telling people to only write about characters exactly like themselves; rejecting books by people daring to write about cultures beyond their own.

Mr. Jackson’s crime? Making an Albanian Muslim a villain during the Kosova genocide, and making two American teens the protagonists. Because nuance, moral ambiguity, and being forced to make sense of complicated situations outside our familiar world are now verboten in literature.

Have these pitchfork-wielders never heard the suggestion to write your own story, exactly the way you want, if you can’t find it in other books?

Under these new rules, there can be no more books about, e.g., British colonists in India; the Dutch in the East Indies; antiheroes or victims who become villains (e.g., Magneto); or Jewish and Russian refugees in Shanghai. People of certain groups must be 100% saintly, while others can only be 100% evil. And forget fantasy and sci-fi worlds where race doesn’t exist, or people are segregated for other reasons!

One of the bullies from the Blood Heir debacle showed up again, promoting another book in her new handle. How dare Woko Haram pretend they’re not engaging in the ultimate form of censorship!

Congratulations, Woko Haram. You’ve derailed yet another new author’s career in the name of progress and inclusivity. Word is there’s a fourth book which may soon be targeted, and I hope that author doesn’t bend. These bullies become more emboldened to keep striking when they see their targets obediently rolling over and crying uncle.

More on this ridiculous development:

“Teen Fiction and the Perils of Cancel Culture,” Jennifer Senior, The New York Times, 8 March 2019

“A YA Sensitivity Reader Watched His Own Community Kill His Debut Novel Before It Was Ever Released,” Ruth Graham. Slate, 4 March 2019

“Another YA Author Withdraws Book from Publication After Backlash,” Katie Rothstein, Vulture, 28 February 2019

“He Was Part of a Twitter Mob That Attacked Young Adult Novelists,” Jesse Singal, Reason, 28 February 2019

The literary Stasi pounces again

Warning: Any nasty comments will be deleted and the commenters blacklisted. This ain’t one of your echo chambers and safe spaces on Tumblr. History, like science, only cares about facts, not your feelings and sense of validation.

Dr. James Miranda Steuart Barry, née Margaret Ann Bulkley
ca. 1789–25 July 1865

Another week, another book for the Woke Stasi to burn pre-publication. This time, they’ve set their teeth and claws upon E.J. Levy’s The Cape Doctor, which just sold to Little Brown. This is Ms. Levy’s first novel, coming after the 2012 story collection Love, In Theory. Her new novel is about a pioneering doctor who spent the last 56 years of her life posing as a man.

These zealots once again are behaving like babies throwing a tantrum. Ms. Levy’s crime? Correctly sexing Dr. Barry as a woman and using feminine pronouns. These bullies are screaming “He! He! He! He! He! He! He! Him! Him! His! How dare you misgender him! He was a man! Man! Man! Man! Transphobe! Bigot! I don’t feel safe! You’re committing literal violence! I’m complaining to Little Brown, and I hope they drop your so-called book!”

“TERF” is misogynistic hate speech, the latest version of “Burn the witch!”

Dr. Barry was raped as a teenager and bore a child. She declared she’d be a soldier if she were a boy, but was trained as a governess.

Instead, several of her brother James’s progressive, influential friends came up with a plan for her to attend the University of Edinburgh’s med school. In late 1809, she reinvented herself as James Barry, and never lived as Margaret Bulkley again.

She didn’t make a very convincing man, leading many to believe she was prepubescent. The University Senate tried to block her applications for final exams, but powerful friends intervened, and she got her MD in 1812.

Dr. Barry joined the army as a surgeon, and rose to become Inspector General (like a Brigadier General). In 1816, she was posted to Cape Town, South Africa, where she significantly improved quality of life and performed one of the first C-sections where both mother and child survived.

Dr. Barry later worked in Mauritius, Jamaica, St. Helena, the West Indies, Malta, Corfu, the Crimea, and Canada, before retiring to London. Her true sex was only discovered after death. The army sealed all records of her for 100 years.

Many women in history posed as men to do things they were legally, socially, culturally barred from. The only way women could become doctors, serve in the military, travel freely, live independently, attend most universities, etc., was to reinvent themselves as men. They were not transsexuals!

The TRAs piling on Ms. Levy harp on about how Dr. Barry could’ve “easily” been one of the women fighting to become doctors and receive higher education in that era, or go to one of the rare countries where women were allowed to practise medicine, instead of posing as a man. This shows such historical ignorance.

There were NO women’s med schools till 1848, and precious few women legitimately trained as doctors. Those rare few faced lots of discrimination. Also, how would Dr. Barry have financed this trip abroad, where would she have lived, how would she have found employment? Who chooses lifelong exile?

These people have no grasp of just how few rights women had prior to the modern era, and how women who went against the grain were treated. Women who read novels could be arrested if their fathers ordered it! There weren’t even any public ladies’ bathrooms till the late 19th century, and there was enormous opposition, since they enabled women to have lives outside hearth and home.

So of course Dr. Barry kept up the charade the rest of her life. Who invests 50+ years into a deception, only to turn around and unravel everything at the end? Women weren’t allowed to own property, so her will would’ve been null and void if authorities knew her true sex. Anyone with knowledge of her deception would’ve been arrested.

So how dare Woko Haram turn around and accuse Ms. Levy of being the one erasing Dr. Barry’s identity and disrespecting the dead! They’re the ones insisting this incredible woman was really a man!

We can’t apply modern concepts to historical people and situations. Dr. Barry lived as a man to be a doctor, not because she felt “trapped in the wrong body” or believed herself to be a transman.

I’m looking forward to reading The Cape Doctor, and hope Ms. Levy doesn’t roll over and cancel publication like Amélie Wen Zhao did with Blood Heir.

UPDATE: Sadly, they caved to the irrational lynch mob.

Through the Orwellian looking glass

Amélie Wen Zhao’s Blood Heir, the first book in a dark fantasy YA trilogy, was set to release in June, after being hailed as one of this summer’s most highly-anticipated books. There were a lot of 5-star reviews by ARC readers. Ms. Zhao signed a three-book deal with Delacorte, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in January 2018, to an advance of at least $500,000. Most authors can only dream of such luck.

But on 30 January 2019, she kowtowed to an SJW lynch mob, the vast majority of whom had never read the ARC, and asked Delacorte to not publish her book. Shockingly, Delacorte agreed instead of asking for their advance back and yanking her contract.

Translation: “Thank you for stopping the beatings, Big Brother!”

I can just imagine the Woke Stasi cyberbullies who held this struggle session euphorically exclaiming, “Oh, YES! We got what we wanted yet again because we threw enough of a tantrum!” Running high-fives. “Team SJW for the win! Let’s find another target to mercilessly bully into submitting!”

WTF is “the book community”? Book bloggers, vloggers, and reviewers aren’t monolithic, even ones who only do certain genres or age categories. Some fantasy book bloggers might prefer urban fantasy to high, epic fantasy, while some contemporary YA reviewers might focus on books with dark themes or set in other countries.

I like how this member of the Woke Stasi is promoting her own book in her screen name. Many people rightly called out the lynch mob, though other SJWs wrote awful comments like these. “Ooh, I’m sitting here crying ugly tears of joy because of your beautiful, humble apology! I know you’ll do better next time!”

It turns out Ms. Zhao is an SJW herself, and so felt compelled to get back in the group’s good graces during the struggle session. She didn’t want to be an outcast and potentially ruin her career. Even if I hadn’t found out she’s an SJW, the inclusion of her freaking pronouns in her Twitter bio makes it obvious.

Although at least she only has pronouns. A lot of these snowflakes check the whole nine yards of Tumblr idiocy.



If you don’t accept material reality (in this case, the existence of biological sex and sexual dimorphism in mammals), you’re NOT a real Socialist! The core principles of Socialism are based on material reality.

Earth to SJW snowflakes: When you enter the REAL world, devoid as it is of its million and one trigger warnings and safe spaces for everything, no one will give a damn about this Tumblr nonsense. Try to announce at a job interview, “I’m an asexual polysexual polyamorous skoliosexual lithromantic non-binary demiboy transgirl wolf otherkin cloudgender, and my pronouns are she/he/they/zir.” Normal people will write you off as a right loon!

On with the rant. These SJWs’ beef with Blood Heir is that it involves slavery in a fantasy world based on Russia and China. It was described as Anastasiya meets Six of Crows:

They’re pissed because the only disabled person (someone who walks with a cane) is a villain, and a bronze-skinned character (whom they read as Black) dies. They chose to read the book as based on American slavery, because we all know no other country ever had slaves, and slavery has only involved people from Africa! Ms. Zhao’s inspiration was contemporary slavery and indentured servitude in China (you know, her native land).

They also think it’s plagiarism to use a well-known line from LOTR, “don’t go where I can’t follow.” Seriously? Ms. Zhao didn’t rip off an entire passage, and plenty of writers pay homage to lines from songs, poems, movies, and books.

The one criticism I do agree with is the gendering of Ana’s surname. Russian women’s names always end in A (e.g., Malenkova, Lebedeva, Tolstaya, Belskaya, Shulgina). Someone should’ve caught that!

I agree it’s important to represent diversity in literature, but not every fictional world is suited for a damn Rainbow Tribe of tokens. Why would, e.g., a fantasy based on Medieval Europe or a historical about Heian Japan be crawling with diverse characters?

I shudder to imagine what kinds of books Woko Haram sees fit for publication. Their list of Newspeak and problematic topics/words grows by the second.

More on this outrageous development:

“How a Twitter Mob Derailed an Immigrant Female Author’s Budding Career,” Jesse Singal, Tablet, 31 January 2019

“An Author Canceled Her Own YA Novel Over Accusations of Racism. But Is It Really Anti-Black?,” Aja Hoggatt, Slate, 31 January 2019

“YA Author Pulls Her Debut After Pre-Publication Accusations of Racism,” Alexandra Alter, The New York Times, 31 January 2019

“When Social Media Goes After Your Book, What’s the Right Response?,” Keira Drake and Jonah Winter, The New York Times, 6 February 2019

“The Latest Twitter Pile On Forces a Rising Star to Self-Cancel,” Kat Rosenfield, Vulture, 31 January 2019

“Young Adult Author Cancels Own Novel After Race Controversy,” Alison Flood, The Guardian, 1 February 2019

“Amélie Zhao Learns to Love Big Brother,” Rod Dreher, The American Conservative, 30 January 2019