Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Where Do We Draw the Line Between Censorship and Personal Boundaries? #WriterWednesday


Recently, I had a strange and frustrating discussion about censorship. I had a man in one of my writers' groups that portrayed himself as M/M romance--and, to be straight up with you, some of his books were adult M/M romance. I don't have a problem with that at all. I'm a supporter of the LGBT community and am open to just about everything.

The key word above is 'just.' 

It came to light that he advocated the "secret and misunderstood life of pedophiles" in several of his books---not as someone who had overcome victimization, but someone who celebrated the lifestyle. At first I scoffed at the accusation because the author had always been very kind to me on one-on-one conversations, so I bought the book and read it myself. I must have looked like a cartoon character with bulging eyes leaping from my face on springs at one point! Yes, the accusations were proven true and I felt blindsided in a lot of ways.

I removed him from the groups I managed because (A) I don't want to promote that to my fans and his books were on my Twitter stream (B) I had a team of other authors that I needed to consider and (C) it violated my personal ethics. The result? Most people were thrilled that he'd been removed because he'd been making them uncomfortable, even before the issue came to light. The energy in the groups immediately changed and became lighter.

However, there were a few who decided to accuse me of censorship and discrimination, two words I abhor, and started debating the fact that, in some romance and erotic romance novels, consent is a blurred line; therefore, I should be more tolerant.

If you've been reading my blogs or know anything about me at all, you'd know I am tolerant. Not only am I tolerant, I have more patience than most, give more second chances than is wise, rescue more dogs than I should, am Pro-Choice, pro-LGBT (my brother is gay and I love him), and believe there is more good in the world than not despite what the news says.

There are issues where I draw the line, though, especially when it comes to children and their innocence. Adults can do what they want with each other. People can buy whatever books they want--there is an abundance to choose from and, luckily, we live in a world where you can find a book about whatever subject you'd like. People can love whoever they want--as long as it is consensual. Children cannot consent.

I love being a writer. I believe people should be able to write whatever they want. I also think it's a writer's duty to push the boundaries and make people uncomfortable. If we're not pushing the envelope a little bit and being true to our art, then what's the point?

But where is the line? If I don't like censorship, who am I to say "that's unacceptable"? For me, it was when asked to promote it myself or to allow my teams of authors to blindly promote it. It is a free country--at least at the moment. Obviously, Amazon doesn't care about the content of his book because it's up and available--looks like it has sales as well. But I have the right to say 'no' if I don't want to promote or tolerate that type of material to my own fan base.

I left another group about a year ago that allowed incest books on the promotion team. They weren't the Daddy Role Play books, not at all. They were truly advocating incest between a father and daughter--sometimes a step-daughter. Know the adage "guilty by association"? Well, that's how I felt. When the administrators of that group responded with "to each their own, don't want to censor", I left.

I've had people tell me that my books go too far, I've responded with a shrug and a laugh. I write mainstream romantic suspense and contemporary romance. I do at times push the boundaries, but my characters are all of legal age of consent. I don't want to be censored--but I've been thrown out of promotional groups myself for being "scandalous" because of a shirtless man on my book cover.

So where is the line? Is there one anymore? Should I, just because I am in the romance genre, be forced to compromise my own moral code in the name of 'tolerance'? One person's scandalous is another person's boring, it seems. When is saying 'no, I won't support that' censorship compared to simply a decision to protect personal boundaries?

I personally think people are too uptight these days. More often than not, I want to tell people to take the stick out of their ass and relax. Live and let live has been my motto for as long as I remember...yet, in this instance, I had to do what was right for myself. Does that make me a hypocrite? God, I hope not. When I hear about bakeries who won't make a cake for a gay couple, I get all fired up about how wrong that is. I honestly believe that the world needs to embrace each other with compassion and understanding.

Being confronted over my decision by an outside member no less and accused of discriminating based on the author's homesexuality triggered an anger in me that I hadn't felt in a long time. Don't throw that word around, not when you don't know the full story or my core belief that love is meant for all human beings.

I ask you again, where is the line? Some people censor my books--consider them too sexual or too violent and ban me from groups. I'm not screaming "discrimination"--I simply move on with my "live and let live" motto and the knowledge that people's reading preference is purely subjective. I never take it personally. So, why then, when I simply remove someone for content that I felt crossed the line in a group I created, am I confronted with words like censorship and discrimination? Have I become that uptight person I loathe? Was it hypocritical of me?

No matter what your answer, I stand by my decision. At the end of the day I am accountable only to myself and my heart. Aren't we all? That being said, I am fully aware that that line of thinking can lead to a slippery slope, but I trust myself not to fall.



Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, works as a professional editor and author coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is the mother of two extraordinary human beings who lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Giving the Finger to the Romance Snobs #Books #RomanceNovels

Gasp! How dare I! There I go being ballsy and in-your-face again. Guess what? I don't care. I'm an educated, professional, adult female who is way beyond the age of needing to prove myself to anyone--especially those of you who snub my work because I write romance. And, yes, I swear, drink alcohol, stay up until three in the morning, speak my mind, and sometimes wear pajamas until two in the afternoon---because I can. I also love my dogs, meditate, am a great mother of two remarkable young adults, and run multiple businesses solo. But how can this be? How can I be a...shh...romance author...and hold my head high in the world? Because I can. Deal with it.

Another gasp!

Oh, no, she's not conforming to societal expectations of a professional woman, let alone a single mom. It's scandalous that she writes about LOVE and SEX--and then she also swears and has an opinion! Oh, the horror! *cue the judgy eyes*

I love writing romance novels. Yes, I also write nonfiction, new adult, and paranormal--but today I'm talking about my favorite genre, the romance novel.

Romance doesn't equal trash. In some writing groups, being a romance author is the equivalent of being the woman wearing a too-short skirt showing off killer legs while sitting on a pew in the back of the church. Sure, she's shown up and has a good heart--perhaps she's even more devout than you--but she's sassy and beautiful so she's shunned by the rest of the congregation. Perhaps she's even labeled a whore and deviant without anyone bothering to know her.

That's how it feels being a romance author. Disrespect abounds in writing groups with mixed genres who somehow think BDSM is the same as rape or that we have no moral standards where we draw the line at incest or pedophilia.

You write romance so should be tolerant of pedophiles, right? Isn't BDSM the same as rape--just be honest with yourself. When you write trash like that, is there really a line? 

Yes. Yes, there is a line. And, no, I don't write trash "like that." We have standards, morals, families, and careers to protect. Believe me...there is a line and we all know where it is. We don't need non-romance authors trying to impose their stigmas on us--just get the fuck out of our business.

I'm a damn good writer who has been writing since the age of nine for fun and as a professional since the age of twenty-one. I'm now forty-eight. You do the math. I have published over two-hundred articles in the past decade alone and have thirty published books (some under a pen name), yet I'm dismissed in many literary circles--usually by people with far fewer credentials than I have--and even by people who meet me for the first time who snicker when I proudly declare, "I write romance novels."

Don't you want to write something serious, something you can be proud of? What on earth do your kids say? Do you keep it a secret from them? 

I'm a romance author, not a drug dealer or a pimp. No, I don't keep my career a secret...what the hell is wrong with you for suggesting otherwise?

With all the turmoil in the world, I am proud that I write stories that make people smile, keep them on the edge of their seat, give them a thrill, and leave them with a happily-ever-after or happy-for-now ending. I love LOVE. I'm not bashful about sex. I'm excited to deliver my readers a story that makes them fall in love with a hot book boyfriend and takes them away from all their worries.

Yes, there are hacks out there who don't know how to construct a sentence, write believable dialogue or weave a clever plot. The advent of self-publishing has unleashed them onto the world with gusto! But those hacks are in every genre--usually, they are the snobbiest of them all in these writing groups.

I used to bite my tongue and move on, shrug off the snottiness, but I'm not doing that anymore. I say to those who snicker at the words "romance author", remember what your mama taught you and, if you can't say something nice, say nothing.

The world needs more love and we all need to stop being so uptight about sex. Writing a full-length novel is a big task, no matter what the genre, so show each other some respect. Would it really kill you to be nice? If so, then maybe that's not a bad thing in the big scheme of life.

Offended by this post? Good. Then you're the person I wanted to read it.

Peace and love to the world! Read more romance novels! Live a little! Get wild! Don't be so damn uptight! Respect your peers!



Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, works as a professional editor and author coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is the mother of two extraordinary human beings who lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com





Sunday, June 12, 2016

#SecondChance at a Once in a LIfetime #Romance #Giveaway

Excerpt of Dancing Barefoot...


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“Kiss me,” she whispered against his mouth.

“No."  His hands slid up her arms before cupping the back of her head.

"I dare you."

"Never."

"I know you want to."

"I don't."

"Now who's the liar?" she asked, her teeth tugging at his lower lip.

Their mouths met in a kiss that melted her skin like candle wax, turning them into one being, one entity consumed by desire. To hell with restraint and regret. She needed this, needed him, here and now.

Passion overrode all other thought or senses. Her hands stroked his back, kneading, and searching. Every sense was alive with his touch, with his kiss. The need for him was an ache that burned deep. Hot. Necessary. Urgent. Primal.

God, she had missed this, missed him.

He ripped her tank top in two and tossed the material aside. His hands squeezed her breasts while his mouth devoured her lips.  

She yanked his shirt free from his jeans and shoved it high on his chest, needing his skin against hers more than she'd ever needed anything in life.  Clothes fell away, bread crushed beneath their bodies, wine spilled from an overturned bottle at their feet.

  They fell against the easel, knocking the canvas and paint in every direction. A tangle of limbs, they made eye contact for a moment, chests heaving, breathing labored.

"This is wrong," he muttered against her skin.  

"Right. Always right with us." She sank her fingernails into his shoulders.

"What the lady wants, the lady gets," he said, a predatory gleam in his eyes.

His hands worked at pushing her yoga pants over her hips while his mouth claimed her breast.

She looped her toes in the waistband of his underwear and yanked them over his thighs.  Her hands sought his erection while her back arched with every stroke of his hands and every lick of his tongue.

He ground himself inside her with the intensity of repressed rage. Her legs wrapped around his hips, holding him as close as possible as he plunged deep inside her.  

Sex had never been tame with him, but this was animalistic. This was raw.  Teeth sank into skin. Nails scraped against each other's bodies. They rolled together, locked as one being. Streaks of yellow and red paint lined their faces, stuck in their hair, no one cared.

From the back cover...

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Naked photographs plastered on a book cover remind Jessica Moriarty that the past isn't as dead as she'd assumed. Her carefully constructed life as an architect on the fast track to partnership is threatened by a love she'd abandoned five years ago when responsibilities had trumped dreams.

World-renowned photographer, Jacques Sinclair, could have chosen anywhere in the world for his book signing and photography exhibit, but he'd come to Boston to shake things up. He wanted answers, but they aren't what he expected.

Reunions aren't always happy—sometimes they stir up unwanted pain and forgotten passion. As Jacques and Jessica stumble their way back to one another for a second chance at love, they're ensnared in a web of conspiracy, manipulation, and sabotage designed to keep them apart. Will they be able to break free of the ties that bind them to seize the love of a lifetime? Or will the pressure to conform rip them apart forever?

**This is the conclusion of the two-part Dancing Barefoot series and can be read as a stand-alone. However, to get the full impact of the love story, the author recommends reading book one, In Between, which is permanently set at .99 as an intro to the series.**


For the Scintillating Sunday giveaway, I will be contributing one of my most popular backlist novels, Riptide, a romantic suspense set in Grand Cayman. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hot, wet, and beach ready #Romance #ScintillatingSunday

Excerpt of the romance adventure novella, Duplicity...it's a wild ride in the Cayman Islands! 


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"One drunken night is a hookup and nothing more...but the second time feels much more deliberate." He hesitated a breath away from her face, his blue eyes dark with both desire and concern. 

"Let me guess," she pressed closer to him, enjoying the feel of the metal ladder pressing against her back while the warm Caribbean Sea lapped against their bodies, "you're not the kind of guy who usually has more than a one night stand."

"Stop worrying about the kind of guy I am." 

"That means I'm right?" She nuzzled her nose against the side of his face. The dread that had sunk her heart only minutes earlier dissipated. 

"Do you really care about anything beyond this moment?" He brushed his lips over her neck, his massive body making her feel small and vulnerable in the water. 

She didn't care about anything except the sensations of warm water, metal, heat, salt, his body, his mouth, his breath. Sounds of the rope holding the dingy behind the main yacht slapping against the hull competed with the sound of her heartbeat reverberating in her ears. 

She slid her hands down his chest to his waist and back again. "I totally understand why the coeds go for you even though you're past your prime."

He laughed against her neck before pulling away and looking her in the eye. "Past my prime, huh? My bet is that we are the same age."

Her lips twitched because she knew she'd hit a nerve. Obviously, they were both in their thirties, but she hadn't been able to resist a dig. Feeling more adventurous than she had in a long time, she grabbed the steps of the ladder, unwrapped her legs from around him, moved up toward the boat, and pressed her breasts against his face. He licked her abdomen as she slid past him toward the deck and she smiled at the gleam in his eye. 

He followed, covering in her body with his before she was fully out of the water. Flat on the lower deck used for divers to come in and out of the sea with the ocean sloshing beneath them, he captured her mouth in a kiss that left her breathless with need. 

Passion from the night before had been fueled by whiskey, but today it erupted from pure desire. She couldn't get enough of touching him, kissing him—couldn't get enough of him manhandling her as if she were his plaything. 

No man had ever before triggered her into this frenzied lovemaking. She craved him. It was as if inhibition had evaporated in the sea breeze and all common sense had been left on land. 

He nipped, pinched, licked, and kissed every inch of her until she slapped her hands at her sides and prayed for release. The boat rocked beneath them, saltwater splashed over their joined bodies, and the sun dipped lower in the sky. 

He consumed her, his body claiming hers while his mouth crushed her lips. 

From the back cover...

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Nothing bad happens in paradise...or does it?


Lexi Dubois is in trouble. On Grand Cayman for business, she discovers the company she's been working for is funding a human trafficking ring—and the money trail leads back to her. Scared for her life, she charters a boat for a week to hide from the men on the small island who want her dead and to buy time to find enough evidence to take them down. The last thing she expects—or wants—is a torrid affair with the hot captain and dive master.

Larry Gibbon has been running a charter dive boat operation in Grand Cayman for years. He's seen it all—and done his share of creating havoc. But when a mysterious woman charters his boat for a week—alone—he has no idea what trouble she's bringing aboard.

The ocean is vast and unforgiving, but will Larry's knowledge of the Cayman Islands and Lexi's relentless determination to survive be enough to save them?

**The Wanderlust Series consists of stand-alone adventure romance novels. Occasionally, characters from previous novels may make a cameo, but each story truly does stand on its own merits.