Thursday, April 26, 2018

Indie Editing Chick Offer

I am so blessed. I get to read books as my day job. Okay, sometimes, when on a tight schedule, it can be really intense!

I've been running Indie Editing Chick for over a year now and have some amazing clients who send me some beautiful books. I feel so honoured to have played a part in several Amazon bestsellers.

I didn't even realise that I'd be good at editing because I find my own books need thorough editing before they go out there. But I think that's actually part of the reason I've become a successful editor - I know what it's like to be on the other end. I also know what it's like to have difficult editors who want to change your wording or voice, or those who don't bother to check your grammar and wording properly.

Editing other people's books has taught me so much about writing. It's taught me how to see a good story or a diamond in the rough. My favourite part is when I fix up a glaring inconsistency or character flaw in the story. I actually really like it when something needs a good fixing. 😊 It makes me feel useful. (I know, it's hard for the authors to sort out, but it's also a chance to make the book shine.)

Please pop around to my website to take a look at what services I provide at reasonable rates:

Indie Editing Chick

I'm offering a half-price proofread of a book of no more than 50K to one lucky person who comments on my blog or Facebook post.

Self-Love vs Self-Esteem

Growing up, we were often told the importance of self-esteem. Self-esteem is absolutely wonderful and we all need to learn more of it. We need to believe in ourselves and our strengths and abilities. But self-esteem isn't enough. There's more.

To be whole as human beings, we need to truly love and accept ourselves. Loving ourselves is one of the best ways to have a healthy mind and heart. As I've started to learn to love myself in a deep and transformative way, my life has blossomed. I've grown in happiness, peace, and confidence. I've become less judgmental of others as I've become more respectful and kind to myself.

So, I decided to write a book about it. My book Falling in Love with Me - 30 Days of Self-Love is now complete and has been sent to a publisher. It's a 30-day devotional for spiritual seekers. Thirty days of learning how to love yourself more. I'd love to give you a sneak peak from inside the unedited version:

Day 15 – Have Fun

I have this beautiful oracle card deck by Gabrielle Bernstein called “The Universe Has Your Back.” I read her book of the same title, and it touched me deeply, so I couldn’t resist getting the deck to remind me of the truths. Lately, I’ve been picking one of them frequently which states: The Universe Works Fast When I’m Having Fun.
That saying sounds like a lot of nonsense when you read it offhand. I mean, how do we get our dreams to manifest and save up for our future when we’re having fun? We need to work hard to make our dreams come true. Everything in life requires hard work.
Of course, hard work is important, but there’s a subtle truth in the saying which I’ve been pondering.
When we only think of our duty and all the things we need to do, when we forget to relax and enjoy our life, we become less and less effective. We lose touch with our intuitive, creative self. I don’t know about you, but the times I am least creative are when I’m overburdened and overly stressed. Creativity flourishes when we’re relaxed and having fun.
How do we have fun?
I know this sounds like a silly question, but honestly, as adults, it’s quite hard.
What do you enjoy?
When you’ve been ignoring your own needs for so long, this is a hard thing to know. Why don’t you go on a self-discovery journey to find out what you do enjoy? Take up some hobbies, try some creative projects—they don’t have to be elaborate. Join a group if you are energized by being around people. Do something in nature. The earth is very grounding and supportive and heals us emotionally.
I think the hardest thing for me was to lean into fun and relax. It takes time to find a rhythm. And hey, if you don’t have enough fun and you start to run yourself ragged, be easy on yourself. It’s a learning process. You’ll get there.
Try to emulate a child. Get in touch with your inner child—that innocent, free, uninhibited self. Children are fascinated with the world around them and they don’t feel guilty about enjoying simple things. Really, you don’t have to do anything huge and momentous to have fun. You could walk around the shops and check out purses or belts—buy a couple you like or even start a collection of snowglobes or postage stamps. You could watch a different series on Netflix. Or you could experiment with all the things you could do with a glue gun. Make origami with colorful papers or take the plunge at something radical like joining a dancing class or going parasailing.
It may take you months before you actually start to enjoy it. Hey, it may set you free straight away. Be patient with yourself. You just need to explore a part of The Universe you’ve ignored for so long in the name of being sensible and good and responsible. Like learning to ride a bicycle, you may not get it right straight away, but you’re getting out there (the proverbial there) and making an effort to get in sync with The Universe. You’re getting in sync with the way fun makes us change, makes us happy, and heals us. And teaches us to be stronger human beings.
Try to find things to do on your own too. If you have a partner, you may be tempted to only ever have fun when they’re around. As good and vital as this is for your relationship, it’s equally important, and in some ways, more important, to find that sweet spot alone. That thing you do for you and no one else.
We give a lot to those around us. It’s wonderful and beautiful.
Give to yourself too.
Find fun in everything you do—the mundane, the hard work, and the routine. Listen to your favorite podcast while doing chores or errands. Meditate while you do your workout at the gym. Listen to music.
Enjoy the journey of self-love too. Yes, it can be hard to face the lack of love we’ve had for ourselves for so many years, even our whole lives. Yes, it can mean a bit of shadow work, but it needs to be fun too. It needs to be exciting. It’s all part of the journey to getting there—to being in radical self-love mode. Falling in love with yourself is the dance of a beautiful, most perfect, life-altering romance. Maybe it’s not as outwardly noticeable to others as you don’t have a new beau on your arm, but that inward glow is bound to radiate somehow.
Daily Affirmation: I want to have more fun. I’m going to have more fun. I didn’t come to this planet just to learn hard lessons; I came to revel in the joy of being a human being. There is so much to explore. I learn best when I’m having fun, whether in work or play, whether in spiritual development or practical day-to-day. I was made for fun. I’m a master at discovering new ways to have fun.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Patriarchy Poison of Fundamentalist Religion

Post below is 18+ only:

I am branching out on the non-fiction front and I plan to write more articles on my blog about real-life issues, especially along the lines of self-love and feminism, and possibly, environmentalism. These are things I'm passionate about, and I believe that I've been given a chance to speak my truth and to have a voice in the world. My opinions may be strong at times, but they are just opinions. Yes, they may change over time, but I believe they are part of my evolution and growth as a human being. I hope they can help some people to change their ideas and find healing.

I have deconstructed out of a religion that messed me up in so many ways. One of the ways was in my sexuality and womanhood. I respect those who have a spiritual practice and believe in the divine, and I don't want to discount their beliefs in any way, but I do want people to be careful of what they are taught in religious communities. They can be deeply harmful. The points that I want to address in this blog post refer to the effect that fundamentalist Christianity had on me as a woman (in the past).

We were taught several things as Christian women. I'm going to list the ideas below in bold and deconstruct them:

1. A woman leaves her father and mother and joins or becomes one with her husband.

We were taught that we were under the authority of our parents until we got married. When we married our Christian man, then he became our authority. He was our support, the one we were to look to for guidance and the one who was to ultimately make all the decisions in the home. We became one with him and were now under his spiritual leadership and umbrella. The basic idea was that our lives would now become complete once we married our good Christian man. He became our "lord", our everything.

As "romantic" as this may seem, it breeds codependency big time. Instead of teaching young women to become financially independent and to develop their own sense of self and autonomy, we're basically taught that we need our parents to tell us what to do and straight after that, we need a man to tell us what to do and make decisions for us. He becomes our "lord", our everything, instead of us learning to find ourselves as well-rounded and happy adults.

So, basically you become dependent on this man and when he leaves you, you're pretty much in deep trouble.

It also creates an imbalance in the marriage, where it's no longer a partnership of equal, adult, mature human beings, but an authoritarian hierarchy where the man is in charge and the woman must listen.

2. A woman is to submit to her husband and respect him. That's her wifely duty and Christian duty to God. Even if she doesn't agree with him, she must submit with gentleness and reverence.

As "beautiful" and "godly" as this may sound, it's also deeply flawed and dangerous. Sure, it's good to respect your partner, but when that respect is required of you, it's very different and scary. Respect is rather a mutual thing that both partners should enjoy from each other - something that comes from friendship and partnership, not subservience.

What happened in my marriage is that, in order to be this good Christian wife, I lost myself in the relationship. I gave up many of my needs and wants to make him happy. Or if I did put my needs first I felt so guilty about it. At first, I felt really good about my "goodness". Well, let's say I felt really good about my behaviour throughout most of the marriage. I felt good about being sacrificially kind toward him. But in the end, it didn't get me anywhere. He left me anyway. And, once I'd begun to heal from the divorce, I realized how much of my own power I'd given away to make him happy. How I'd bent over backwards for him oftentimes, at the expense of just saying no and taking time for myself. Yes, I fully blame myself. I gave my power away. But my actions were directly related to how I'd been taught in my religion to act as a woman.

What this idea also pushes is that women end up accepting abuse in the name of submission and "reverence". Then the woman can't get out of the relationship because she's supposed to be this good wife, who loves unconditionally forever, no matter what.

3. Masturbation or self-pleasure is wrong and is a doorway to lust.

So, we were told we shouldn't pleasure ourselves because it leads to fantasy about other men and therefore lust, which ultimately will lead to adultery.

This is total codswallop.

On so many levels.

Firstly, not getting to know my own body, away from the relationship and even before the marriage, made it harder for me to navigate the sexual side of our relationship because I didn't know my likes and dislikes, at all. I was taught to be ashamed of my needs. I was a stranger to my own body.

Secondly, self-pleasure does not lead to lust. It enhances self-love and self-discovery. In fact, it actually reduces lust because your sexual needs are met.

Thirdly, it puts a strain on another person to meet all your sexual needs, which leads to...

4. As partners in a marriage, we must never say no to sex, unless it's to fast from food. 

Yes, this is actually in the bible. The only time we were allowed to say no to our partners is if we were fasting from food or very ill. Or upon doctor's orders, like after having a baby.

And because we were told that men had higher sex drives than us and only felt loved by their wives if they were given sex, we basically felt that we couldn't say no - that it was the worst thing we could ever do to our husbands. (It also makes a man think that he must only get sex to find love, but I strongly believe men are much more well-rounded than that.)

I was told at a lady's group once that I'd better give my husband sex whenever he wanted it, else he would eventually have affairs and leave me for someone else.

So, you'd better give your husband sex. All the time. Whenever he wants. If you don't, it's your fault if he cheats on you. (I was even asked by some Christian ladies after my divorce if I'd made my husband happy in bed. They basically implied that it was my fault he cheated on me.)

This idea needs some serious deconstruction.

For one, no one else is responsible for our sexual fulfilment. We are the ones who are responsible for our own bodies and pleasure. It is just wrong to place this burden on another human being. If your partner is not meeting your sexual needs, yes, it would be wise to communicate this problem in a loving way, but if they can't oblige for some reason, a compromise needs to be reached. If your partner has a lower sex drive than you, then you should find your own way of meeting those needs without comprising the integrity of the relationship. Cue in the self-pleasure thing. (Yes, you won't die without sex. Many single people survive, or actually thrive for years without sex.)

Sex is supposed to be a gift. It's something we offer our partners because we love them. It's not something that they should demand or that we owe them. And women thrive on the pleasure just as much as men.

For two, not being able to say no puts a damper on the sex drive. It makes sex an obligation and a means to keep someone happy. That's not a great way to fuel passionate love. Sure, if the couple agree mutually to work on that side of their relationship, to improve frequency - wonderful. But as soon as it becomes one partner's duty to keep the relationship going by being some type of sex-slave, something is seriously out of balance.

Thirdly, this whole mindset is fear-based. It creates a dynamic of insecurity and possessiveness in the relationship which doesn't enhance love.

Importantly, it teaches us to put our partners needs above our own, constantly. This is very unhealthy for a person's well-being and a relationship. It will eventually lead to resentment or dis-empowerment.

I remember how I always felt like I couldn't go to sleep without my partner in case he wanted sex that night. When he used to stay up really late at one stage, it was exhausting. I could never just relax in bed at night. It was always my wifely duty to wait up for him, just in case. Eventually, it became too exhausting to live like this.

And lastly, it made us think that we had to go with whatever our partner wanted in bed. This is a scary thing and can lead to abusive situations where a woman accepts things that she doesn't enjoy. That doesn't enhance the relationship and leads to resentment. It also weakens the woman and makes her unable to express her needs and say no. It enables men to always dominate and encourages narcissism and abuse.

Patriarchy is often a subtle thing. Be careful if your religion teaches things that dis-empower women, wrapping it up in flowery spiritual language and self-sacrificial urgings which can appeal to people who have a yearning to be good and faithful to their faith. When women are dis-empowered, men suffer too. Relationships suffer and so do families and communities. Women and men are equal. Yes, we are different and we should embrace those differences, but in a relationship, we should be equal partners who love and respect each other - individuals who are entitled to say no and entitled to time out and space and being selfish sometimes.

Friday, April 6, 2018

One of the Main Reasons I Don't Write Erotic Romance Anymore & Was Never Really Good at It

18+ only. Please don't proceed further if you're under 18.

I want to share something that I deem very important for the well-being of the females on this planet. What I write below may not resonate with you, and that's fine. I write this to help people and in no way to judge anyone else and the path that works for them. Everyone is an individual and has their own story, and that's what's so beautiful about being on this big blue and green orb - we get to learn from each other and learn to be tolerant with each other.

Something happened after the sexual revolution of the 60s - women were liberated. And men. Women were suddenly allowed to enjoy sex. And explore their sexuality. What a wonderful thing!

Then pornography happened (or maybe it had always been there). I don't know exactly when pornography started up, but I suppose it grew more with the advent of the internet. Before it was just those magazines teen boys used to slot under their mattresses. Now it's full-on videos of the act. People got access to finding out about sex without having to read dry literature or ask their elders (blush, blush). Soon after e-books came out. Erotic romance was written and published, and read, long before Fifty Shades of Grey caught the world alight.

I'm not a fan of pornography and will give my reasons below. But with regards to erotic romance, there is much good in it. I find romance is pure feminism. It shows us ladies that we are meant to be loved, pampered, and pleasured. We are important and we don't just exist for the purpose of our husbands' sexual pleasure. We are to be honoured and pleasured too. Nor are we here just to propagate the human race. Erotic romance can put a woman in the mood and can show her what a good lover is all about. But...

I used to hate reading it sometimes because it made me feel like such a failure as a woman. I always struggled with multiple orgasms, and didn't really like a lot of the things that instantly worked for other women. It was made out to me by the books and my partner that there was something inherently wrong with me. When I took up writing erotic romance books (under a pseudonym), more to please him than myself, although I was curious about the genre, I tried to bring some realism into them. That backfired. My books didn't sell well at all. I struggled so much to write the genre. It was like wading through thick vegetable soup. I wasn't idealistic enough. And seeing it was a reflection of my real life, I wasn't sexy enough. I was just poop as a woman. Because our womanhood is totally based on how sexually acquiescent we are. (Sarcasm siren going off, big time.)

But when my relationship fell apart, a seed got planted in my psyche that maybe I wasn't the problem after all. That maybe it had to do with unrealistic expectations.

And since then I've read and heard of several things about the dangers of pornography. It's not like I've actively gone looking for this info, although at times I've tried. It's just popped up, as though my eyes have been opened and as though The Universe wants to assure me that I am wonderfully created and good enough just as I am.

Pornography is not based on real relationships and real sexuality; it's done according to a standard system, and the women are chosen according to a certain look (not just in their shape but also in their more intimate visuals). A lot of the time, these women hate their jobs and do it for the money and not for pleasure. It often objectifies women, revealing them as merely objects of pleasure and not human beings with moods and different tastes. (I'm sure it does the same for men but that's not what this article is about.) It shows seamless orgasms, without any issues, and need for patience and communication, and taking time to discover your partner. And MOST OF ALL, it doesn't represent the sexual tastes of the whole population.

And I'm afraid to admit that erotic romance sometimes does this too. Yes, it shows things from a woman's POV, how she gets pleasured. It helps us ladies know that we do deserve pleasure and a good man to give that to us. But it also often shows women who always have multiple orgasms, always orgasm (and in a violent, life-changing way every time), and always have every single need and desire met perfectly with every sexual encounter they have with their partners.

This sets up the stage for very unrealistic expectations.

But it's fantasy, you say.

Sure, it's fantasy, and if you can just see it that way and not let it influence your own relationship with your partner or with yourself as a human being, great, and good for you. But if it in any way makes you feel unworthy and inadequate as a woman, there is something intrinsically harmful about it for you. And if it makes your partner unhappy with you and messes up your relationship, because they have unrealistic expectations of you, then it's not healing womankind at all.

Today, I heard a podcast of an interview with feminist and sexuality educationalist, Melissa Fabello

The biggest thing I got out of the podcast was that not all women like multiple orgasms ( and not all of them have bigger-than-life experiences when they orgasm - for some it's just a simple feeling of satisfaction. Also, every one likes different things and it doesn't make you a bad or un-sexy person because you don't like certain things. It's not like your body is deliberately choosing to spite your partner. Sometimes, in erotic romance, the women seem to like everything. Every single thing. And the partners seem to instinctively know what they like without asking. I'm not criticizing the authors as you can't write a sex scene with stumbling and with a woman saying, "No, please don't do that. It's not nice." Because that wouldn't be very swoon-worthy to read. But hey, it would be really nice if someone could write a book like that one day - how a relationship actually wasn't perfect in the beginning, but the couple learned to communicate and work with mutual pleasure in a loving, patient, and understanding way. To me that would be the most romantic erotic romance ever!

That said, there are many amazing, beautiful, touching erotic romances that I read in my day job which I wouldn't want to change at all. I just want women to learn more about themselves and educate themselves so they are more able to love themselves and have healthy relationships with their partners. Melissa recommends this book, which I'm quite keen on reading. I can't vouch for it.

I'd love to hear your comments.