Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Facebook Name Policy Change

I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we've put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.
In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we've had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We've also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we're going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.
The way this happened took us off guard. An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn't notice the pattern. The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail. We've had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it's done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here.
Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess. Part of what's been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook.
We believe this is the right policy for Facebook for two reasons. First, it's part of what made Facebook special in the first place, by differentiating the service from the rest of the internet where pseudonymity, anonymity, or often random names were the social norm. Second, it's the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm. The stories of mass impersonation, trolling, domestic abuse, and higher rates of bullying and intolerance are oftentimes the result of people hiding behind fake names, and it's both terrifying and sad. Our ability to successfully protect against them with this policy has borne out the reality that this policy, on balance, and when applied carefully, is a very powerful force for good.
All that said, we see through this event that there's lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who's real and who's not, and the customer service for anyone who's affected. These have not worked flawlessly and we need to fix that. With this input, we're already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors. And we're taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way. To everyone affected by this, thank you for working through this with us and helping us to improve the safety and authenticity of the Facebook experience for everyone.

So is FB actually going to change its ways or will it stay the same?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Update on Parental Rights Amendment

What does all this mean to you? First, the PRA may sound like a good idea, however don't be confused. There are many parents who are smart and know that their kids need a broad range of experiences, however, there is a group of parents who are fighting for the PRA so they can continue to abuse their children. They want you to ignore their past abuses and focus on the fear that they are spreading. I touched on the issue in a past post on Gay Therapy Bans. The PRA will open the path for more gay therapy camps. It will also force schools to stop discussing gay history, and anything dealing with being gay. If the PRA passes children will be harmed.

Instead of writing your congress representative to support the PRA, write and call to tell them you disagree with it.

Here is the note they sent out - 
The Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on House Joint Resolution (HJRes.) 50, the Parental Rights Amendment (PRA), on Tuesday, September 9. Given that Congress is currently scheduled to be in session for only twelve work days before recessing again for the November elections, this hearing on only the second day communicates the importance of the resolution. The measure enjoys the support of 79 cosponsors, including Rep. Trent Franks, the chairman of the subcommittee. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) is the measure’s lead sponsor.

“I’m pleased that my colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee will consider the Parental Rights Amendment. This is an incredibly important milestone. The Parental Rights Amendment will ensure that child-rearing decisions are not made by faceless bureaucrats but by parents who love their children and know them best,” Congressman Meadows said.

This will mark the second consecutive session of Congress in which the PRA has been taken up by the subcommittee. The same subcommittee held a hearing on HJRes. 107 in July of 2012 during the 112th Congress.

“It is encouraging to know that in the midst of so many other important matters that Congress is dealing with, they have not lost sight of the importance of families,” says president Michael Farris. “Parental rights is ‘perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by [the Supreme] Court,’ but recent erosion of this liberty demands that we act to preserve it for our posterity.”

Farris, who boasts 30-plus years of experience as a constitutional lawyer and serves as chancellor of Patrick Henry College in Virginia, will be one of the expert witnesses to speak at the hearing on behalf of the Amendment. staff also plan to be in attendance.

This is a list of the cosponsors. If they are in your district call and tell them not to back this amendment. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why The Name? And If You’re Offended...

So the question has come up, why the title Pray The Gay Away? What’s in a name anyway? Apparently some people are offended by the name of the book. I get it, however I’m not concerned with offending you when choosing a name for the book puts it in the top search on Google for How To Pray The Gay Away.

Why is that important? There are parents out there searching for answers, kids looking for information. Those kids are afraid and alone, wondering if their preacher is right, if they can be cured by praying the gay away. They are surrounded by close-minded individuals who tell them they are sick or broken. That is wrong.

Those of us who aren’t in the closet and read MM books don’t have to worry about our family finding out like these kids do. We don’t have to fret over what our parent’s will think. We read the genre and go about our daily lives. So yes, if I’ve offended some of the people who read MM on a regular basis, sorry, but I’d rather risk offending you than risk not reaching one family and showing them that there is another way.

I didn’t write this book so MM readers could feel good about themselves. In the beginning, when I first started writing the book it was a lark that soon turned into something so much more. Had I kept on the original path for what the book was going to be, I probably would have changed the name, but once the characters revealed themselves, I realized this book was going to be more than I had anticipated.

This series is bigger than me trying to please my readers. Yes, some of my books are written because of my readers, this one isn’t that type of story. This book series ripped my heart out, twisted me around, and left me bereft. I was empty for weeks after finishing this story because it is life changing for those kids whose parents want to send them to gay therapy camp. It’s crucial for kids who hear everyday that they are sick. If I risk offending one MM reader but save a kid from a lifetime of self-hate and pain, it’s worth it to me.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Campus Cravings Cover Reveal

Welcome to Cathia University, where school is in session! Nine of today's hottest gay romance authors have crafted brand-new interrelated novellas celebrating everything wonderful about college, with over 200,000 words featuring sophisticated professors, sexy teaching assistants, ambitious grad students, and spirited undergraduates, all looking for the same thing: an A+ in true love.

Annabeth Albert: Winning Bracket 
Cassandra Carr: The Eloquent Jock
Dalton Diaz: Lesson Learned
Mia Downing: Switching Leads
Whitley Gray: Artistic Endeavor
Bianca Sommerland: Solid Education
KyAnn Waters: Private Lessons
LA Witt: Did Somebody Order a Pizza?
Sara York: The Dust Of Everyday Life

Add Campus Cravings to your Goodreads to-be-read-list here:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to edit

Editing is supposed to be hard. Here's what I have found works best for me. I haven't always done this, but I will in the future.

While writing, I never allow a mistake I see to go unfixed. Yes, I know there is the "just write" camp, I'm not in that camp. If I see something that is wrong, I stop. (I miss a lot BTW)

At least once while writing a book I will go back to the beginning and start reading, fixing as I go. With Colorado Flames With A Texas Twist, I read the first 30,000 words 4 times before I moved past 30K. So far, I've read the entire book 2 times, the first 30k, 6 times.

One read through of my book will be done reading the book backwards. Yes, you heard that correctly. I read from the top of the last page to the bottom, then I read from the top of the second to last page to the bottom, then the third to the last page and so on. Yes, It takes time. I'm currently doing this to a 16,000 word manuscript and it has taken me 3 hours to get 75% done. But there's more...

On one of my read throughs, I change the font to a script font. I like Apple Chancery. It's difficult to read your story in a font you're not used to. I'll probably switch to Lush, or Zapfino in a few months. You are forced to slow down and read the story, seeing each word, each comma, each period when you read in an unusual font. With computers, it's simple to change your font and catch your errors. Also, you should change your font size, this helps too.

When I am self publishing a book, I now read it on my Kindle before I let it go. Yes, that means I will have read Colorado Flames With A Texas Twist 6 or 7 times (the first 30K 10 or 11 times) before I publish. It's supposed to be difficult.

If you are new to writing, I suggest you develop a similar method before you submit. Reading backwards will help you figure out holes in your stories. Interrupting the way your brain thinks about the story flow is important when you are trying to catch your errors. Publishers expect your story to be good before you send it in. Don't give them another excuse to reject your story. There are a lot of excellent authors out there and many of them are willing to take the time to make the story clean.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What Should Christian Parents Do About Reparative Therapy Bans?

Many Christian parents not only in California but also across the US are wondering what to do about the decision SCOTUS made to deny cert to (that is, they opted not to review) Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown. In doing so, they left in place a California ban on reparative therapy, which prevents licensed therapists from working with children to change their sexual orientation. Contrary to evangelical Christian beliefs, sexual orientation is not chosen, but a part of who the child is. Therapist who wish to force children to deny who they are, making them state that they aren’t gay or bisexual are pissed because they feel the measure violates their First Amendment rights.

The evangelical Christian angle is that in 2012 when California passed a law banning licensed counselors from offering reparative therapy to teens “suffering from unwanted homosexual attractions” it stepped on their toes. The law does not apply to clergy or other unlicensed counselors, but prohibits licensed doctors, therapists, psychologists, or social workers from offering the treatment.

The evangelicals scrambled, trying to find a way to work around the ban. They chose to enflame Christians with the broad spectrum of Parent’s Rights and violation of the counselors’ First Amendment freedom of speech. Luckily, a San Francisco-based federal appeals court upheld the ban, saying it regulates conduct and not speech. The Parent’s Rights group states that the distinction is hard to swallow because the majority of the “conduct” involves speaking. Yet, by denying cert the Supreme Court has left that ruling in place and the ban – which had been on hold pending this final appeal – can now go into effect.

There was no doubt in the reaction of the Parent’s Rights movement. Michael Farris, of states about the ruling, “This is an outrage.”

For Christians, homosexuality is a touchy subject. The Parent’s Rights movements take on the matter is that “it is so important that young people be free to work through this issue with their parents who love them, and not be forced into one single, “politically acceptable” path by overreaching lawmakers and bureaucrats. That the California legislature would be so bent on protecting one group’s rights that it would trample on the rights of others is extremely problematic.”

The problem is that these evangelicals believe that it is their right to force their children into whatever mold the parent sets. The Parent’s Rights group states  “The law that the Supreme Court has chosen to leave in place criminalizes a form of therapy with proven results among those who seek it. The law violates the right of parents to make medical, psychological, and therapeutic decisions that they, along with their child, determine to be in the best interests of their child. It also violates the doctor-patient decision-making relationship.”

But these children are not allowed to make their own decisions about what is in their best interest. In Lance Bass’s recent documentary, Kidnapped For Christ, the kids and teens are not allowed to decide. They are manipulated, forced into, taken against their will, and made to feel less than. The abuse continued by evangelical Christian parents in the guise of Parent’s Rights needs to be stopped.

Parent’s Rights groups fear those teens whose same-sex attractions arise from sexual molestation or trauma during childhood would be denied the professional care they desire and need. But they are assuming that teens being gay is brought on by trauma and neglect the fact that if a child is sexually abused they can always talk about that abuse and the counselor/therapist is not there to direct the child’s decision about same sex attraction, but help them recover from abuse.

Basically, the Parent’s Rights groups oppose the bans because they feel that it impose undue interference on the right of parents to make medical and psychological care decisions with and on behalf of their children.

But that’s the main problem. Most of these parents are not making the decision based on what’s best for the child, but based on what will embarrass the parent the least. The Parent’s Rights groups have proposed that a Parental Rights Amendment needs to be added to the U.S. Constitution so they can “protect the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children as a fundamental right,”

The main issue is that these people do not have the best interest of the child in mind. They are hung up on lies perpetuated by religious organizations. Any group, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or any other group religion that suppresses same-sex attraction, making those people feel less than, should seek the cause of their reaction to same-sex attraction, finding within themselves the problem, instead of trying to harm innocent children.

In the A Southern Thing series, Jack’s mom loves him dearly and works to understand what is going on with Jack. She doesn’t take man’s words on the subject of same-sex attraction, but she goes deeper to figure out if what her son is doing is wrong or okay.

If you are in the position that you don’t know what to do about your son or daughter’s same-sex attraction, read the series. If you’re on the fence about your co-workers or friends, read the series. I know I won’t change the minds of those who have lost their ability to actually love freely. They are beyond my reach, your reach, or any sane person’s reach. I can only hop that in the future religions stop trying to force their ideals down the throats of others. A Southern Thing series is a southern tale of good triumphing over evil! Read it and learn.