New Release: After Life Lessons – Book Two

What does it mean to live, to hope, to love in a dying world?

That’s what the characters in our latest release – After Life Lessons: Book Two – are trying to find out once more. After Life Lessons takes you on the road with straggling survivors of a zombie apocalypse, as they try to heal first each other and then what is left of their society.

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The Complete After Life Lessons Collection

 

After Life Lessons is a Survival/Post-Apocalypse series with a Women’s Fiction bent. 

In the wake of a devastating epidemic, Emily finds herself alone, grieving and struggling to survive with her young son, Song. They encounter Aaron, an Army medic on a mission of his own.
After Life Lessons: Book One follows their journey from mere struggle to survive, into a life they slowly begin to recognize as worth living again. Once settled and fortified, they take to the road once more in Book Two in order to find Aaron’s family. Instead they find new enemies and new allies and a dangerous mission for the future of the region.

The Complete After Life Lessons Collection  $5.99

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

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After Life Lessons: Book Two

After Life Lessons: Book Two

Years after the end of the world, the scattered survivors have begun to reconcile with their fate and are starting to build communities from the rubble. Life has been kind to Aaron and Emily, and maybe it is that infusion of hope that leads them on a winter trip to search for Aaron’s family. But the world outside their little haven has grown harsher, the conditions rough and dangerous.

Not everybody they meet on their journey allowed the grim realities to harden their hearts, however. Malachi and Kenzie – a easy-going drifter with a bum leg and amnesia, and a teenage girl who has lost everyone and everything – are on an ill-conceived mission to Mexico, while Iago and his band of nomads work to forge trading connections between the small settlements of the south. All of them will discover new nightmares on the road, far surpassing the threat of the last rotting zombies still roaming the countryside. And now they must come together to fight for peace and justice in the world they trying to rebuild.

 

After Life Lessons: Book Two — $3.99

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks | AllRomance

So, what the hell happened?

I have this vision of myself, sashaying back into this space as if no time had passed and nothing ever happened. As if I hadn’t ignored this blog, my writer friends, my readers and my craft. But I don’t think it would feel right to come back without at least an explanation. It won’t just be a pity party, I promise.

 

The truth is, though, that my most productive writing time was the absolute lowest point of my life. I loved writing, but it was almost literally the only thing I had left that gave any confidence, any feelings of accomplishment or joy at all. And when I go back and read some of my earlier work, that still resonates off every page for me. I was isolated, suffering from deep depression, social anxiety that made it hard for me to leave my house. I was afraid of my therapist, afraid of opening the mail. I was scared of people and being seen and most of all, I was afraid that I simply wasn’t built to function in a normal life.

 

Throughout 2015, I was working hard to change all that. I got a part-time job – translating and writing for a media analysis company – and although I sat in a corner hardly speaking a word to anyone the first few weeks, it really turned out to be much less scary than I thought it would be. I was – and am – good at my job and was quickly promoted to a full-time position. I’m deputy head of the editorial department now and while I still recognize and remember the person I was a few years ago, it’s also hard to imagine letting it get this bad. Letting me be so unhappy for so long.

 

I didn’t mean to stop writing. But there came a point, where other things became more important to fight for. And writing is a struggle – a wonderful one, but it takes commitment and showing up every day even when it hurts. Even when you hate every word you’re putting on the page, even when someone writes a terrible (or even just a “meh!”) review and makes you feel like you’ve been so right about hating yourself all along!

 

So when I started working full time, but hadn’t worked on any of my other problems, I usually came home exhausted. I sat in front of my screen and the word processor would blur in front of my eyes and I’d go have a nap instead. Or I’d go eat something. Which is the next problem I had to tackle.

I went to see my doctor in 2016, and he basically referred me to a specialist for gastric bypass surgery. Now, I shouldn’t have needed that wake-up call. But apparently, I did. Like I said, I was busy getting my life together and actively ignoring all the other construction sites… like my weight, which had skyrocketed all through my depression.

 

So that became my next project. I did not get surgery – because I was terrified and also, I didn’t feel like I had actually tried all that hard. And at least I wanted to do that. I wanted to try and fix this without carving up my body.

And so I did.

I went from this… (and you can only imagine how much I cringe showing you this. Myself, at my heaviest)

New haircut, sleepy at the office.

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Laila Balke (@lailajblake) am

To this…

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I spent the last 18 months losing about 140 lbs. And although I made a few attempts in that time to get back into writing, I quickly realized that I couldn’t do both yet. I couldn’t stay as focused on my weight loss journey as I needed to be when I split my focus. I’m still on that journey and far from skinny. But I’m not in any immediate health danger, I feel great. I have a lot energy and I realized if it was between being actually skinny or being a writer… I want to be a writer.

I’m still working to lose weight and build and strengthen those healthier habits.  But I’m also writing again and have been for a while. Even if I had (and still have) a lot of anxiety about sharing that with you in case I’d just go and disappoint again.

 

For those who are still interested – and believe me, I’d understand if there aren’t many people left – I’m currently working on finally finishing the third and last installment in the Lakeside Series. And the end feels almost tangible. Maybe three more chapters to go (and then a lot of editing). It feels good – in many ways because this series has been weighing on me for a long time. I don’t like unfinished things and I am super excited about sharing with you where my mind has been at throughout this time, and what Moira and Owain’s happy ending will look like.

 

And before I finally wrap this up (because it’s getting wooordy), thank you so much for sticking around and reading this. For your empathy and patience for something that really scared me to put into words.

Another hard blow for culture: Books are written to be read

Amazon is changing its royalty policy for borrowed books from a per-book system to a per-page-read system. It’s a move that is widely supported by KPD Select authors (you know, the people it affects), but – like any decision Amazon has ever made – criticism hails from a variety of camps. One of them is the grand league of cultural patronage, who apparently believe that literature is far too high-minded a thing to be judged (or paid) according to how much of it readers can get through, before they throw their Kindle against the wall.

What is the world coming to, after all, if books are written to be read, instead of as pieces of art, cultural observation and a testament to humanity?

 

I’m going to admit something here: I love literature. If pressed, I’d even admit that I love lit fic above all genre fiction, and that’s what I write! In the debates on the value of lit fic versus genre, I regularly come down on the side of literature and I do genuinely believe in its value for humanity as a whole. A value that does go beyond that of most genre fiction.

But literature is written for readers! In a big, big way! The moment it stops being written for human consumption, or only to be read by literature professors to torture their students with, then what’s the point?

As numerous studies show, reading high quality literature increases empathy, intelligence, the ability to communicate and understand the world. Yes. It does all that. But the emphasis is on READING literature. The mere fact that it exists as some kind of abstract piece of art means nothing to anybody, except possibly the self-involved, post-modern writer who truly believes his genius shines too bright for any reader to understand.

All the greats wrote stories for readers. The fact that a book is enjoyable is really not in any way a contraction to quality. Shakespeare himself wrote for the lowest, least educated group of his time, after all, commoners, looking for a good time drinking ale in a packed theater. Jane Austen, although maybe a little challenging to today’s reader, was well-loved by her readers and a great commercial success. And yes, the lit-scene is full of snobby idiots. Case in point: Fantasy and sci-fi can be just as literary as the great realists are — read some Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick or Ursula K. LeGuin for great examples.

But literature is a great thing. It’s a great thing because we read it, and we fall in love and throughout its pages, it changes us, it helps us to understand, finds words for all those feelings and ideas that have been clanking around unnamed in our subconscious. And I’m not saying it doesn’t take work sometimes. You sort of have to train yourself to become good at reading lit fic — but that’s really not a problem, cause you also have to work on playing video games before you’re any good, or on sports or painting or any fulfilling hobby people might have. And still they are all there to enrich human life, to exist in a vacuum for the ultra-educated.

So listen culture snobs, the best literature has always been the books readers also connect with. Bringing the focus of writing – yes, even writing literature – back to the people is the best thing that could ever happen to it. People are smarter, more emotionally intelligent and better equipped to understand the big questions than you will ever know. And don’t you effing throw Twilight and 50 Shades back at me. People are also horny, so what? Nobody is just one thing.

New Release: A Taste of Winter (Lakeside #2)

Hello my lovely readers and generally all-time-favorite people. It’s that time again: I’ve got a new release for you! And this one is a personal favorite of mine.

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By the Light of the Moon (Lakeside #1) was my first published book, and as you may or may not know, I couldn’t keep the promise I made, and the sequel didn’t come out later the same year as I said it would. I had problems with my publisher, then had to wait for my rights to be returned. And I didn’t want to rush it back out into publication. I wanted to make it better, edit it properly the way my publisher never did, give it a better cover than it had before.
And now finally, almost a year behind schedule, I can also release the sequel that’s been stuck on my computer for way too long.
It’s called A Taste of Winter, and it continues Moira and Owain’s story out in the wild after they ran away from Rochmond Castle. It also introduces some new characters, and of course Brock, the fae spy, is far from done spinning his plans and plots.
A Taste of Winter (Lakeside #2) Laila Blake

A Taste of Winter is out today! How exciting! And it comes with bonus excitement. To celebrate the release, By the Light of the Moon (Lakeside #1) is discounted to 99c for a few days (that’s a whopping 60% off!)

Release Date: October 28th, 2014

Genre: Romantic Fantasy / Paranormal
Length: 80k words
Tags: medieval fantasy, forbidden love, shape-shifter, were-wolves, fae, fairies, mental health, prejudice, privilege

Buy on Amazon!

Amazon US Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU Amazon DE

Goodreads | Lilt Literary

Pinterest Board
Follow Laila’s board Writing: Lakeside on Pinterest.


Blurb

Picking up where BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON left off, A TASTE OF WINTER is the second book in a romantic paranormal fantasy trilogy, set in alternate history medieval times. It follows the life of young Moira, a half fae noblewoman who fell in love with her shape-shifter guard and ran away from her ancestral home. 

Traveling the country, searching for a safe place to stay, the two of them soon realize that life is not as kind to them as they might have hoped. They feel the sting of prejudice and bigotry in each town they visit, and the reality of poverty and winter begin to erode Moira and Owain’s blossoming love. 

In the castle they left behind, darker plans are afoot. The fae spy Brody is slowly taking over, and he has no love for humans. He needs to be stopped before he can seize power and trigger another war between the races. But Moira and Owain are long gone, and Brody always seems two steps ahead.

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Excerpt

It was almost nightfall when they dared to approach the small village at the edge of the forest. It seemed mostly rural much like many in the Rochmond fief but it benefited from the proximity to the excellent hunting grounds the forest offered in the region. Owain had bidden Moira to wrap a scarf around her prominent hair and was gently leading her through the darkening streets towards the small Inn.

He had hoped they would find it all but empty, ready to accept two strangers in the night if they had the coin. When he opened the door however, a flood of chatter came wafting out of the place like a bad smell. Moira stiffened in his arm. There were so many things they had never bothered to think about before they’d run away that night. For a moment, he squeezed her tightly and then led her inside. It wasn’t as dingy as he might have expected and a good number of men were sitting by the bar over a drink sharing exaggerated hunting stories.

“A room for the night?” He asked the bar-maid, who eyed them suspiciously. It was hard not to recognize Owain for what he was. With his stature, he towered over most men and there was a certain slant to Blaidyn features, a sharpness in the cheeks; the nose was large and elegant and they simply moved differently than humans. In completely rural areas he sometimes went unrecognized because the uneducated peasants still believed Blaidyn had claws and muzzles like their dogs, but it took only one glance at the woman behind the counter to know that she knew better. Carefully, she set down the mug she had been polishing with an old rag and her eyes fell on Moira. Anger boiled in Owain’s gut when he saw the hint of disgust she couldn’t hide.

“A room?” she asked, raising her brow, “for the both’o ye?”

Owain exhaled, his arm fell from around her shoulders and he took a step forward, allowing her to fade a little into the broad shadow he cast.

“I am tasked to accompany this young woman to her relatives in the capital,” he explained quickly, in that way Moira had come to recognize as an attempt to sound more human. It cut most of the growling grumble from the tone and he even managed to hide most of the Blaidyn accent she found so attractive in him.

The innkeeper took one look at their muddy clothes and the huge pack on his shoulders and then raised a brow.

“Yer far off the path, wolf, quickest way to Lauryl is down the river. Everybody knows that.”

A growl rose in his chest but he managed to control it.

“Our travels must remain hidden from certain people,” he finally said quite smoothly, “hence the expense of my protection.”

Again her eyes swept over both of them but when he pulled out their purse, she shrugged. She had a living to make like everybody else. He pulled out two coins and pushed them over the counter, in return she gave him a key. Owain exhaled a well-concealed sigh of relief. Even Moira managed a small smile.

“Oy, wolf-whore,” a voice suddenly sounded from off to the side. It was a drunk voice, slurred and wet. Moira spun around and Owain winced. It would have been better for their cover if she hadn’t reacted but his own anger was quick to rise as well.

“I for one…” the drunk continued loudly and a moment later all eyes were on them. The chatter had died down and Owain exhaled a silent prayer to the moon.

“I for one,” the drunk repeated, “think it’s a bloody disgrace… yer a perfectly adequate maid. I bet lots of real men would have ye.”

“You think if we bring ‘er down to the stables, she’d fuck them horses, too?” another voice could be heard and one of the tables erupted in harsh, loud cackles. Almost too late, Owain took a threatening step between Moira and the men. He could feel her shivering behind him, gasping for air every now and again. Strangers, always strangers. It was hard to believe sometimes that she was genuinely happy to be alone with him in the woods for days and days but in that moment it was easier to fathom.

He pinned them down with his gaze for a few long heartbeats, and then he let his eyes flicker into the wolfish silver. Once they flinched, he turned back to Moira and led her towards the stairs. They didn’t linger to find out whether the innkeeper had changed her mind.

New Release: Polar Shift (a lesbian novellette)

Polarshift

After a series of collaborative anthologies (like Anything She Wants, Sweat, A Christmas to Remember, Cougars, Bossy, Forbidden Fruit and Opposites Attract), my latest work for the wonderful ladies at Ladylit Publishing is all my own. A 15.000 word/ 50 page novellette about a woman who discovers her attraction to a very unlikely partner.

Polar Shift is about overcoming prejudice and finding unexpected treasures, it’s about tenderness and gender identity, orientation and all that goodness. And yes, it’s a little bit about bdsm, too.

Blurb:

Kaylah Shaw is everything Megan never wanted: impatient and abrasive, too tall and groomed to an unnatural perfection. One encounter is enough to last the failed photographer a lifetime. When she moves into Megan’s apartment building, however, Kaylah shows up at her door, with her smooth, long legs and a compelling smile, and surprises her with the request for a photoshoot. Finding some undeniable quality at the bottom of her dark eyes, Megan agrees, never expecting that Kaylah would take control of the shoot, with gentle but unerring dominance, and open her up to a world never explored before.

 

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Price: $2.99

Available from
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
Amazon AUS

[More to come]

Add it to your Goodreads shelf >>

Gift Inspiration Driftwood Deeds

If you’re anything like me, two weeks before Christmas you’re probably not exactly done with your Christmas gifts. For me, that is because my family is made up of die-hard pragmatists when it comes to material things, who almost impossible to find presents for. So I researched gifts for people who appreciate such things in a series of book inspired gift ideas.

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My Breaking in Waves series is set by the seaside, full of ocean treasures, long lost stories and love.

Etsy: Sea Glass Necklace, by lacylauragray — $7.50

In the first book, Paul takes Iris on a walk by the sea-side, to an abandoned beach where he finds all the raw materials for his work-work: driftwood and rope, sea-glass and rusty fishing gear. They walk around the place in wellington boots, searching for treasure and forging a very first connection.  They find little glittering fishing lures, and pieces of sea-glass glittering in the sand.

 

“So you think I like broken things?” I asked after a long time, voice warm and tinged in this quiet, restful moment. Paul Archer looked at me over the rim of his cup, which he held in both hands to drink as though it was an Asian bowl.

Etsy: Asian Bowl with Chopsticks Holder by SwampFires, $25.00

“I think you understand them, notice them,” he corrected, then tilted his head, put the cup down and pulled his glasses from his face. He wiped the hot water condensation from the lenses before resetting the glasses on his nose in that charming gesture. “And maybe, you feel drawn to them, too.” (Driftwood Deeds, Chapter 3)

Although primarily a screen-writer, Paul likes to work with his hands. He makes beautiful things out of driftwood: furniture and decorative objects. Later in Trading Tides, she makes a bed-side table for Iris because she needs somewhere to rest her books when she’s asleep. He likes the stories he imagines in old wood, long cut from its tree.

Driftwood Dock for iPad and iPhone, by Docksmith — $120.00

It has history embedded in its markings, a history of growth, and then another long story of getting lost and found by the beach. Driftwood inspires him to write, and — in a way — driftwood inspires him to be the person he wants to be, the person he grows into throughout the series.

Paul is like a knotted, washed out piece of wood, Iris finds on her day at the beach. A piece of driftwood that compels, inspires her with its beauty and its history, with the soft sheen of its form. And she takes it with her, slowly working new life into a man who long thought the most exciting parts of his life were in the past.

Handmade Leather Paddle, by ThePaddleman — $40.28

Instead, they start their tumultuous love story – and of course it’s not simple. Great passion never comes easy. But then Iris doesn’t like easy. She likes pain and the test of endurance. She likes the way Paul reaches for a leather strap to spank her rear.

“You didn’t want to wear any of them,” he says after a while. I pause, try to gather my thoughts. Then I shake my head.

“But you want to be mine?”

HIS & HER’S Leather Infinity Cuff Bracelets, by MemorylaneJewelry — $80.00

“Yes!” There’s a sharp, hot knot in my stomach and I reach for his hand on the wall, cover it with mine. “Of course I do. I am. And I want… I want to wear something of yours. I want to be reminded all the time. Just…”

“Just what, baby girl?”

“I think maybe I want something of yours. Something that’s you. Or me. Something that’s about us. (Trading Tides, Epilogue)

Leather Journal, by CLWorkshop — $40.00

And, of course, in the very last book – Saltwater Skin, which will be released in January – Paul has given Iris more than a leather cuff, and a collar. He also gave her a diary, he bound from the same piece of leather. A diary for her to him, to write in her thoughts and her feelings, to express everything she finds hard to say out loud — like all of us should.

 

 

Lastly, there are still the books – ebooks for now, although there will be a print edition of the full collection in the new year! But then, who doesn’t love a book appearing on their eReader, a new one a friend enjoyed before us?

Driftwood Deeds, Breaking in Waves #1, Laila Blake goodreads-badge

Trading Tides, Breaking in Waves #2, Laila Blake goodreads-badge

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Pre-order on Amazon

Release date: Jan 6th 2014

 

 

The End of a Series: Saltwater Skin

Bringing a novel onto paper and into distribution is a thing of satisfying (and terrifying!) beauty. But doing the same to a whole series, of concluding something that has been with you for so long, beats it by a mile as I am currently finding out!

The Breaking in Waves trilogy was not originally conceived as a series at all. My short stories simply had been accepted into several erotica anthologies, and it felt like a shame not to follow that up with an erotic publication of my very own.

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At the time, I just wanted to write a piece that was all about my own impressions of bdsm and the people who practice it, as it appeared to me, and as – in my limited reading erotica reading experience anyway – was rarely depicted in erotic romance. I wanted to write about consent and laughter, about kindness and the normality of it all. I wanted regular-looking people with a regular to modest income, who just acted like regular people who want to get to know each other and enjoy each other’s predilections (okay: more or less. The time contraction for the sake of the novella format did impose certain limitations to reality lol).Breaking in Waves Series

The point is: I was writing it very much as a statement piece. It wasn’t really about the characters or their story, but I fell in love with them anyway. And by the end of Driftwood Deeds, I knew I wanted to give them more: backstory, real character and a satisfying conclusion. And so Trading Tides and Saltwater Skin were conceived.

Trading Tides is the dark moment in the trilogy, it puts their young relationship to the test. I knew very early on that I wanted to write about distance relationships, about sustaining love through phone wires and internet sessions. Especially before 50 Shades, bdsm still felt so taboo, it was and still is hard to find local people, the pool is just a lot smaller and the chance to fall in love in that pool becomes somewhat tiny (not least of all because there are a lot of nutters around lol). So I feel like distance is an issue faced by a lot of D/s couples, and I wanted to pay tribute to that and explore it.

In the end, it was probably the hardest to write emotionally, because it revived so many old memories of my own, of fighting against a current that feels overwhelming at times, of longing and need and feeling alone in a world full of people because the one person you want to be with is miles away. But of course that also made it incredibly gratifying to bring to a happy conclusion. 

Saltwater SkinAnd then came Saltwater Skin, where Paul takes over as narrator, which posed challenges of its very own as well. He always had a very distinct voice in my head, a strong character who deserved to express all of his own thoughts and impressions and to not just be seen through Iris’ eyes.

He is definitely a character I fell for hard, and who still makes me swoon: troubled, thoughtful hero who works hard to overcome is issues to finally be the man he wants to be. Saltwater Skin will be released next week alongside a Complete Trilogy Collection (although because of issues they are actually already available on AllRomance and Smashwords), and there is something wonderful about starting into the New Year with a finished long-term project. As much as I love Breaking in Waves, its completion opens up so much space in my head, so many possibilities and new story ideas. And I can’t wait to see if readers like spending time in Paul’s head as much as I did!

I’m still giving away free review copies, by the way. So anyone who would like to review Saltwater Skin (or other books in the series as well) in January or February, please contact me at laila@lailablake.com!

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Driftwood Deeds, Breaking in Waves #1, Laila Blake goodreads-badge

Trading Tides, Breaking in Waves #2, Laila Blake goodreads-badge

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New Release: In Your Atmosphere – 6 #erotic stories

Just in time for valentine’s day, we’re bringing you a new collection of stories of L.C. Spoering and myself. Now, for my part, I don’t have a date tonight and where I live, more people indulge in Cologne’s Stree Carneval this weekend than make mention of Valentine’s day, but so we have the have the finer things – the books, and films, the music and the secret thoughts :).

In Your Atmosphere, Laila Blake, L.C. Spoering

We put together this anthology of couple’s stories, stories of lasting love because I think we all need such tales and remember.

Everybody knows the lure of what’s new and exciting, but sometimes it’s really the passion that lasts and builds in intimacy that captures the imagination. In Your Atmosphere celebrates the sexy side of romance and commitment in six sizzling stories about love, kink and the happily ever after.

Goodreads In your Atmosphere

 

 

Purchase here:

 

New Release: Girls in Love

There is something liberating in writing erotica about only women. I always hesitate to call it lesbian fiction because more often than not at least one of my protagonists is bi, questioning or curious, and I like to feature that for what it is. But no worries, I won’t go all “bi-visibility” on you, no matter how to true it is that most of the time we are in a committed relationship with a person of any gender, we end up being labeled accordingly :).

I like how liberating it is, though. When I write m/f erotica, in the back of my mind there is always a GirlsInLove_mediumwhole catalogue of gender roles and expectations, which I don’t want to succumb to completely but still have to pay attention to because it’s hard to make a complete role reversal sexy to the mainstream erotic reader. Then there’s my penchant for power exchange stories and with a male dominant, I always take extra, special care not to give him the slightest whiff of an abuser. And I’m not saying that there’s no abuse between women, there is. But it’s less of a genre cliche and the freedom to explore the person behind the expectations exists in a way that hard to access in straight erotica.

With girls, with women, I get to choose and play with the expectations. It’s not so different in the nitty gritty, but it feels like there are more options, more ways to go. More creative options, a lot of fun to write.

Harper Bliss of Ladylit Publishing has been giving me the opportunity for that a lot lately, not just in a series of small anthologies (Sweat, A Christmas to Remember, Bossy and Cougars) but also my publishing my Breaking in Waves series. And of course when she offered to put some of my stories together in a small anthology of my own, I jumped at the chance!

Here is the blurb for Girls in Love
Childhood friends turn lovers in a snowy cabin, a student seduces her teacher in her own class room, and together two women overcome the prejudice of her family once and for all. These five lesbian erotica stories by Laila Blake are about laughter, kink and above all: about Girls in Love.

Table of contents
Bird of the Summer
House-Broken
Midnight Clear
Doll-faced Demons
The Corner Chair

And it’s available from these retailers
Direct from Ladylit
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
Amazon AUS
All Romance
Smashwords
Kobo
iTunes US
iTunes UK

You can add Girls in Love to your Goodreads shelf here >>

Thoughts too long for Twitter: Street Harassment

Because apparently, I can’t sit down an concentrate on anything before getting this off my chest, here’s what happened on the bus today. It’s not unusual, it’s not new, it happens all the time to me and all the other women around. And I’m still gonna write about it.

I get into the bus, and a guy gestures me to go first on the ticket machine. Afterwards, he goes:

Man: *mumbles so that I have to lean in*
Me: (in German) Excuse me?
Man: *still mumbling* Do you speak English?
Me: Yeah. Yes, I do. Do you need help with anything?

He points to the ticket machine and we have a conversation about the different rates and distances and where he has to go, until I tell him which ticket to get. After this, I walk away to find a less busy place to stand. So far so good.
He follows me and starts asking me questions.

– What’s your name?
– Do you live around here?
– Where are you going?
– Do you take this bus a lot?
– Do you have children?
– Do you have a boyfriend?

At this point, I lie and say I do, already figuring he isn’t the type to just respect my lack of desire to date him. My answers grow more and more taciturn and at the next station a few people get off the bus so I walk away again to find a place to sit.
He follows me again, standing way too close so that my face is at the height of his stomach/crotch.

Man: Hey, give me your number.
Me: No, thank you.
Man: Come on, give me your number. Your boyfriend doesn’t have to know. It’s just as friends. Just as friends, come on. It’s just a phone number. It’s totally normal.
Me: *shaking my head throughout his speech.* No thank you. Very flattering, but no.
Man: It’s just a phone number. Come on, just as friends. Everybody can use friends, right? It’s no big deal, just give me your number, come on.
Me: *Shakes head and turns away*
Man: Come on, you’re not scared of me, are you?
Me: No, I’m not scared of you. *turns away again*
Man: Here, why don’t you come sit with me. There’s plenty of room here.
Me: *ignores him*
Man: Hey, you don’t have to be scared of me. Just sit with me.
Me: I’m good here, thanks.
Man: Yeah I knew it. You’re scared of me, this is so typical…

Now, at this point I was pretty mad. Not just because I actually do have an anxiety disorder and when it gets bad it is exactly situations like that which make it really scary for me to use the bus or even leave my house. But also because he was African, and I suddenly felt like he was calling me racist for that old cliche of having to be afraid of black men. And again, I wasn’t afraid of him at all, I was just pissed off.

Me: Okay, seriously? I helped you, I was nice. I don’t want to go out with you or give you my number. Leave me alone.
Man: *stares* It’s just a damn number…

At this point I just resolutely stared out of the window until my stop came. Of course at this point, he still had the gall to ask me where his stop was and how many more stops to go. And I got off feeling like crap.

Why do these people do this? Like… I just don’t get it.