A Disturbing Prospect is the darkest book I’ve ever written. Not only is there a body count, but the book also deals with some real-life nightmares that I’ve longed to fight back against. Some of these themes may trigger personal trauma.
I needed to tell the story in my heart and right some wrongs, but I’d also never want anyone to suffer because of my words. None of these themes are gratuitously presented in the book, and my vigilante bikers always prevail. Still, I want my readers to be safe, so here is a list of potential triggers.
Animals: There’s no pet death in A Disturbing Prospect, but an animal is harmed.
Childhood Sexual Abuse: Some of the characters have a history of being sexually abused as children. None of their memories are described, but there is mention of it having happened.
Self-Injury: A character catches a glimpse of another character’s self-mutilated arms.
Sexual Assault: One of the recurring themes in this series is violence against women and children. (One of the other recurring themes, however, is justice for that violence.) There are some hints of past sexual assault throughout A Disturbing Prospect.
Stalking: A character mercilessly stalks and taunts another character throughout A Disturbing Prospect.
Violence: All of the good guys in this series are vigilantes—antiheroes who take justice into their own hands. There is blood, fighting, gun violence, and a villain body count.
If you feel that you won’t be safe reading A Disturbing Prospect, please don’t risk your health. As a sexual assault survivor and someone with PTSD, I wish every book came with a list of trigger warnings. No book is worth risking your safety.
If you’ve read A Disturbing Prospect and feel that I may have missed something, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first time I was sexually harassed, I was six years old. Six. I was a little girl. A boy in my class, whose desk was paired with mine, exposed himself to me and tried to get me to touch him. He actually grabbed my hand.
I fought back.
I wrenched my hand away and told him no. I froze with panic, terrified that I would get in trouble. Eventually, we were moved around. (My teacher paired students with someone new every so often.) I never told a soul, until now.
I’m telling this story because ever since that first time, it’s happened so many more times, I can’t count. Boys and men touching me, making jokes and comments, catcalling. Then there are the two boyfriends who sexually assaulted me. Raped me. Violated me with acts of violence that I will never forget. Men who I trusted with my body and heart, yet they only wanted to control and possess me. To hurt me. I went years without telling anyone, and it almost killed me. This story has a happy ending: I did the work, and I healed. I grew strong. I got my voice back, and a confidence I’ve never known before. But.
I’m worn down to the bones, sick in my soul every time another story hits the news or blogosphere about men who hurt women. I’m tired of the violence, the victim blaming, and the bystander effect. All three contribute to rape culture, and these three seemingly small things—men who turn away when they overhear other men make a sexual joke, for example—are the reason why women stay silent. Only when others come forward do we feel protected enough to raise our voices, too; there is safety in numbers.
I’m tired of men making excuses or saying they’re sorry. Instead of being sorry, stop being a piss poor excuse for a man. Don’t justify your past actions or write apologies to the women you’ve hurt. Start being a better person. Stand with us when we’re accused of trying to ruin a man’s career. Speak with us when we tell a man to leave us alone. Stop automatically siding with your bros, and start being a brother to the women in your life—both friends and strangers.
And for fuck’s sake, quit it with the “not all men” line. When you’re whining, you’re centering yourself in a story that isn’t yours. Your selfishness is complacence, and your hands are around her neck, too.
I thought I’d put together a list of organizations who are fighting for our civil rights here in the States, for those of us who are able to donate.
If you can’t donate, it’s okay! There are other ways to help, like continuing to be the kind person you are. Simply existing is resisting—especially if you’re from one of the marginalized groups who stand to lose a lot. You can keep creating art, volunteer in your community, attend town meetings to have your voice heard, educate people, and speak up when you see or hear something that is wrong.
This list is ever-growing, and is in alphabetical order; each are equally important to me. If you’d like to suggest an organization, please leave a comment and tell us who they are!
Even a $5 donation here and there is helpful; if every one of us did that, we could support these organizations in their fights for us. Please donate now.
ACLU is a non-partisan group of lawyers who uphold the Constitution and Americans’ civil and human rights.
Black Lives Matter works with local police and communities to improve the lives of all black people, addressing social issues and needs within the black community.
Lakota Law Project was originally created to stop state departments from wrongly taking Lakota children out of their homes and placing them into foster care. They’re also dedicated to fighting the Dakota Pipeline.
Planned Parenthood provides affordable healthcare for women, men, and teens—including but not limited to cancer screening and treatment, birth control, and family planning.
RAINN assists survivors of sexual assault with counseling, emergency care, and crisis support. They also provide education, work to improve sexual assault justice, and fight rape culture.
Looking for other ways to help? Resistance Manual is a fantastic resource put together by DeRay McKesson and others with information on the Trump administration’s and GOP’s proposed policies and agendas, and how to fight them.
You can also donate to organizations right in your own community. To find them, Google search things like “sexual assault nonprofit Connecticut.”
These organizations need your help now more than ever, as their tireless work is putting a huge strain on their resources (and the Trump administration has already begun federally-defunding some of them).
Please comment with any organizations who need our help, and share this list wide.
By “fun,” I mean another riveting episode of The Book Internet Blows Up.
Not everyone will agree with me, but I strongly believe that the number one rule of being an author is do no harm. This means choosing your words carefully and not allowing your emotions to get the best of you. “Freedom of speech” is not a Get Out of Jail Free card for bad behavior.
For one, it’s not okay to accuse authors writing under pseudonyms of scamming readers.
It’s also not okay to shame people for protecting their privacy.
And it’s really not okay to compare a mostly harmless thing—or anything, really—to rape.
There are many authors writing under pen names. Most authors use some kind of pseudonym these days, whether indie or trad published.
Very rarely do you hear of authors screwing over readers, and certainly not hordes of writers. For sure we would’ve all heard about these people, because readers are not stupid. Readers are incredibly adept at sniffing out scams and unmasking the culprits. Just ask James Frey. The truth almost always comes out, and the lightning-fast reader grapevine can make or break a career.
While it’s true that there’s a lot of illicit gaming going on—take a stroll through Kboards and you’ll see many complaints about the KU system being scammed—readers and retailers alike catch on quickly. Amazon, for example, is constantly tweaking things to even out the playing field.
Insinuating that all authors writing under pen names and using inanimate objects as avatars are ripping off readers is a blanket statement and not at all fair or true. With how passionate the reader community is, word about these supposed scammers would spread like wildfire. In all of the years I’ve been a part of the indie community (as both a reader and an author), I’ve heard of less than a handful of scammers.
More than likely, an author using a stock photo instead of her or his actual face is probably just trying to protect their privacy. For example, many authors who write taboo subjects such as erotica have day jobs or families that would not approve of what they write, and there could be serious ramifications. That’s not deceiving readers. Deceiving readers would be uploading an ebook full of gibberish to Amazon and charging $20 for it, or writing a completely fake memoir and telling captive audiences about the horrible, untrue things that you’ve endured and overcome.
There are also authors who write memoirs or novels based on traumatic or very personal events such as transgender transition who need the protection of a pen name because our society treats these people like dog shit. Coming out could have serious emotional consequences for these authors. That’s not scamming or hurting anyone.
Then there are authors who simply need to separate business from personal life. Some authors feel that having a pen name helps them focus better, while others find that it helps keep them and their families safe. Having had experiences with stalkers both online and in the real world, I can completely understand the need to keep some details under wraps. Occasionally I even wish that I’d written under a secret pen name and kept my face a mystery, because then I might be able to stop beating myself up about my books.
More often than not, a pseudonym is in place to protect the author, for whatever reason. That’s hardly lying. The relationship between author and reader is storytelling; authors promise their readers that the book they’re holding is going to take them on some kind of adventure and offer them an escape from everyday life. A pen name doesn’t interfere with that. Before I ever started writing books, I never wondered about the authors behind the story. I never questioned whether the name on the cover was her or his real name, or whether she or he actually lives where their bio states. Mostly I just wanted to know when I could read more of their work if it was a book I loved, or what else I should try instead if it wasn’t my cup of tea.
The definition of catfishing, according to Google, is to “lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.” Since most authors are too busy untangling plots and naming characters to bother with dating their readers, accusing writers with pen names as catfishing is hyperbolic at best. Sure, it might catch your attention if you find out J. Doe is a Jane instead of a John, but no lies were told. Jane still wrote that book.
I think the original blog post wouldn’t have been so outrageous if the writer hadn’t compared using a pen name to raping readers.
Rape is a horrific, violent crime that traumatizes the victim—often for life. Last I checked, using a pen name is not a crime. An author scamming readers, however, is certainly committing a crime, but it’s not the same thing as rape. Not even a little. Comparing the two is completely unnecessary, not to mention offensive to actual survivors and victims of sexual assault.
Throwing around the word “rape” casually or even for emphasis is a direct contribution to rape culture. Misusing words so loosely makes me seriously question an author’s supposed concern for readers. Statistics show that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have been sexually assaulted. That stands to reason that a percentage of any author’s readers may have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, or know someone who has.
As authors, we have a responsibility to do no harm to our readers. We’re also responsible for our behavior toward other authors.
Perhaps a better method of bolstering the community against scammers is sharing actual anecdotes of known scammers, rather than attacking both authors and readers within the community. 💜