Review: New novel tackles sexual assault on campus amid the #MeToo debate

Yes Means Yes cover image

Yes Means Yes is a new novel exploring the meaning of mutual consent in sexual relationships.

One of the most compelling scenes in the downfall of producer Harvey Weinstein was a secretly recorded dialog between him and a young model, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. In the audio, Weinstein pressures the young woman to follow him into his room. In a grotesque framing of the “Will she or won’t she?” trope, the dialog encapsulates the struggle of women against the power of men.

It’s a pattern as old as human history, and it repeated this week with the resignation of Sen. Al Franken.

Except this time, it’s different. After the New Yorker expose of Weinstein’s abuses, women by the millions—counting those who’ve used the #MeToo hashtag on social media—have lifted the veil of secrecy over their fear and shame. Americans are adjusting the power balance between men and women, though the road to a new landscape is far from straight and narrow. For one thing, the nation refuses to address Weinstein-like behavior by Donald Trump before he was elected President of the United States.

The novel is at once a seminar on the law concerning sexual assault on campus and the story of a young woman discovering its complexities at a personal level.

Since the early days of the feminist revolution, the cultural and legal issues around sexual harassment and sexual assault have clouded the never-crystal-clear relations between men and women. College campuses are often the crucible for change, as young men and women navigate a dynamic society’s mating rituals. The latest iteration stems from the meaning of mutual consent, that is, how do you know when it’s okay to move from mere attraction to a passionate kiss to a romp between the sheets?

Author Steven M. Wells explores the issues in a fictional narrative that is at once a seminar on the law concerning sexual assault on campus and the story of a young woman discovering its complexities at a personal level. The novel, Yes Means Yes, takes its title from a 2014 California law that defines sexual consent. The statute goes beyond the traditional “no means no” standard, which places the boundary of consent at the point when one of the partners says, in effect, “No further.” The California law says the partner must now explicitly says “yes” if the other partner wants sex, or else the initiating partner risks a charge of sexual assault.

In Yes Means Yes, new graduate student Katie Russell arrives on the campus of Colorado University ready to study philosophy. Facing a mountain of debt, she takes a job that makes her a kind of bounty hunter for sexual assault. The prize? $50,000. When her neighbor is raped, all evidence points to the all-star captain of the football team, who happens to be the worst kind of lout. In the meantime, Katie falls for a assistant professor who is the essence of the Western gentleman: thoughtful, handsome, ethical to a fault, and a rancher. Trouble, is, their relationship probably breaks the university’s code of conduct, threatening his career.

What follows are multiple Kafka-esque journeys that leave the reader wondering if fear of lawsuits will overwhelm the desire to mate. How could a man ever be sure that his lover really wanted him, if she happened to forget to say “Yes” during that romantic weekend alone? How could a woman be sure that her memory recalled “No” when a selfie turns up showing her and her partner apparently enjoying themselves? Suddenly, the rule is, there are no rules, as if there were ever rules in the first place.

Wells tells his story with the appropriate complexity, though it sometimes reads like a legal brief than the mystery it tries to be. That said, it’s a timely novel that gets underneath society’s confusion over the evolving roles of men and women in private and in public. A nation of laws expresses its values through its statutes and court decisions, and the country appears to be on its way toward another reset of the power balance between the sexes. Yes Means Yes is an excellent and well-written addition to the debate.

The author provided a copy to me in exchange for an honest review.

Carbon Run small image

My new dystopian thriller, Carbon Run, is on sale now!

What do you think of the cover for City of Ice and Dreams?

I’m so excited to show you the brand new cover for City of Ice and Dreams, the second full-length novel in my dystopian thriller series, Tales From A Warming Planet. I’d also like to offer you an Advance Reading Copy of the novel, available free and securely through Instafreebie and Bookfunnel. Download now!

book cover

Here’s the new cover for my next novel, City of Ice and Dreams.

Instafreebie logo

Download from Instafreebie

Bookfunnel logo

Download from Bookfunnel

City of Ice and Dreams is scheduled for release February 1, 2018. Here’s the blurb for the novel:

What if the key to your past lay at the South Pole? In 2261, Sento, a beautiful, intelligent, tormented young woman, is obsessed by Isorropia, a city in Antarctica that is half-myth, half-legend. Surviving a shipwreck, Sento resolves to trek south with immigrants on a suicidal one-way journey across the melting ice. She leads the pilgrims across a raging river, weeps beneath a massive natural sculpture draped with blue ice, and defends an endangered fur seal. Meanwhile, in the secretive city, First Citizen Elita Soares watches the growing threat of the pilgrim train. She wants no more climate refugees within the city walls. When Elita learns her half-sister may be among the immigrants, she vows to stop the newcomers at all costs. Will the pilgrims reach the fabled city before Antarctica’s harsh climate kills them? And why is Elita afraid of her half-sister?

I’d like to thank my designer Christian Bentulan for his wonderful work. He also designed the covers for the first and second books in the series, The Mother Earth Insurgency, and Carbon Run. Check out the great reviews for both books on Goodreads and Amazon.

Thank you so much for all your support of my series. Look for more announcements soon on City of Ice and Dreams, as well as deals and giveaways for my other work. And there’s still another novel to come in the spring of 2018. Whew!

Comment on my book covers below.

Know your rights! Sign up now to check your eligibility for health insurance help

Not sure if should buy health insurance, or go bankrupt if I get sick.

You have until Dec. 15 to check your eligibility for health insurance subsidies.

Every fall, the federal government opens the enrollment period for individuals to buy health insurance. By going online to your state insurance site, such as my state’s HealthPlanFinder, or to HealthCare.gov, you can learn whether you are eligible for a subsidy to purchase health insurance for yourself or your family.

President Trump did not repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Despite what you may have heard, President Trump did not repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Only Congress can repeal a law, and it failed to do so last summer. However, Trump has made it difficult for individuals to benefit from the law. For example, he has shortened the enrollment period to just 45 days. The last day for enrollment is December 15.

I am one of millions of individuals who purchase health insurance on the open market. My employer does not offer a health plan for me, and I earn some of my income through free-lance work. I’m also a full-time student. Obamacare is a lifeline to me and many writers, artists, and other low-income individuals, who otherwise couldn’t afford or access quality health insurance.

It’s important that you sharpen your patience skills. The Trump Administration has slashed the support budget for the ACA. It’s possible your state may balance this with more support. However, be ready to spend extra time online or on the phone. It will be worth it, especially if you qualify for a tax subsidy that will reduce your premium cost.

According to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United States has signed, every person has a right to decent health care. In our country, this means you have the opportunity to purchase affordable health insurance, which protects you and your family from economic catastrophe if you get sick, and provides benefits that help you live a longer, more productive life.

Don’t wait. Enroll today!

You’d better start reading Chinese science fiction right now

The Three-Body Problem cover

Chinese science fiction, including the Hugo Award-winning novel, The Three-Body Problem, is breaking through in the West.

China is a rising power. China’s economy is the second largest in the world, after the United States’, as measured by gross domestic product. China is the most populous nation the world. The power of its leader, Xi Jinping, is now compared to Mao Zedong, the emperor-like founder of the modern Chinese state.

If you want to understand the Chinese mind, read its science fiction. It’s probably already in your Kindle, if not on your bookshelf.

Carbon Run cover

For a limited time, Carbon Run is available on Amazon Kindle for 99¢.

In 2015, Chinese writer Liu Cixin won the Hugo Award, the most prestigious award in science fiction literature. I read his novel The Three-Body Problem in translation by Ken Liu, himself a Hugo Award-winning author. The word “ambitious” does not begin to describe the novel, which opens with the Cultural Revolution, a bloody civil conflict of the 1960s defined by deadly purges of intellectuals and teenage Red Guards waving copies of Mao’s sayings. Thirty million people died.

In the midst of the paroxysm, astrophysicist Ye Wenjie loses her father to murderous radicals intent on eliminating Western ideas from China. She finds herself exiled internally after a Kalfka-esque charge, but her unique expertise gets her a job at a top secret communications base run by the People’s Liberation Army. She sends a message to an alien intelligence inviting them to Earth, because she knows they will destroy her species to save themselves. It’s an act of revenge. Continue reading

It’s here! Carbon Run is now available via Amazon for Kindle and in print.

Carbon Run cover

Carbon Run is now available for Kindle and in print via Amazon.

I’m so excited to announce that Carbon Run is now available for purchase as an ebook or a print bookFor a limited time, the ebook version is priced at 99¢. It’s also available free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

buy now button

It’s been a long journey from conception to release, and I’m thrilled with the result. If you have some thoughts to share about the novel, please consider writing a review on the Amazon page, on Goodreads, on your personal Facebook page, or on your blog. Reviews are critical to success of independent writers, such as myself.

Many thanks to everyone who helped me with this project, including my editor, John Paine, my cover artist, Christian Bentulan, my wife Edith, and the many readers who offered their honest and helpful opinions.

What’s next? I’m working on the release of the second full-length novel in the series, titled City of Ice and Dreams. Watch for announcements in the coming weeks!

News Release: Carbon Run set for release October 21, 2017

good news obi-wan

Good news about Joe’s book, Obi-Wan!

I sent out this news release today about the upcoming official release of Carbon Run. The release went mostly to media in the Seattle area. Do you know a reporter, producer, or blogger who might be interested? Send me a note, and I’ll follow up with him/her.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Follansbee, Contact page

SEATTLE AUTHOR TO RELEASE FIRST NOVEL IN DYSTOPIAN THRILLER SERIES

Seattle – Seattle-based author J.G. Follansbee has announced the upcoming release of the first novel in his new dystopian thriller series, Tales From A Warming Planet. The novel, Carbon Run, tells the story of a young woman, Anne Penn, whose father, Bill Penn, is accused of destroying an endangered species of birds. When Janine Kilel, a deputy inspector for the Bureau of Environment Security, comes to arrest Bill, he runs for his life, because in the 22nd century, destroying a species is a capital crime.

Carbon Run is speculative science fiction that imagines life in a world ravaged by climate change. The novel falls into the same category as Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2140, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake series, and Claire Vaye Watkins’ Gold Fame Citrus. Many critics call this style of sci-fi “climate fiction” or “eco-fiction.”

Writing about the first release in the series, The Mother Earth Insurgency: A Novelette, Pushcart nominee Joyce Yarrow said, “Like all gifted sci-fi writers, Follansbee extrapolates from the present to build an imaginative – and in this case action-packed – scenario for the future.”

The official release date of Carbon Run is October 21, 2017. The book will be available as an ebook and a print book on Amazon. An audiobook version is planned for release in 2018.

Two more novels in the series, City of Ice and Dreams, and Restoration, are scheduled for release in 2018. A collection of short stories is in development.

Author bio: J.G. Follansbee is the author of science fiction and speculative fiction novels set on an Earth and in a society transformed by climate change. A writer who publishes independently, Follansbee explores themes of survival, justice, and tolerance with strong female protagonists and antagonists. Mr. Follansbee supports meaningful clean energy and transportation policies that combat the damaging effects of climate change.

###

Things are coming together. I’m really excited!

New giveaway: 38 free sci-fi ebooks, including Carbon Run!

Extravanganza header graphic

The Autumnal Equinox Sci-Fi Extravaganza ebook giveaway ends Oct. 8.

I’ve partnered with more than 30 amazing science fiction and fantasy authors to bring you the Autumnal Equinox Sci-Fi Extravaganza. You’ll find 38 free ebooks, all available for download today via Bookfunnel. Offer ends Oct. 8, 2017.

The giveaway includes the advance reader copy of Carbon Run, the first novel in my series, Tales From A Warming Planet.

This could be your last chance to read Carbon Run for free. The book goes on sale for Kindle on October 21, less than three weeks from now. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement!

Goodreads members! Win a signed print copy of Carbon Run

Goodreads logo

Enter to win a signed print copy of Carbon Run!

I’m excited to announce a Goodreads giveaway of 10 signed print copies of Carbon Run, the first novel in my Tales From A Warming Planet series. To enter, you need to be a Goodreads member. Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Click here or the image below to enter. The book comes out on October. 21. I’m looking forward to seeing your entry!

Carbon Run cover

Tales From A Warming Planet: Carbon Run

Remember, the first story in my series, The Mother Earth Insurgency, is available now on Kindle for just 99¢.

The first one thousand words of The Mother Earth Insurgency

I’ve been thrilled with the response to my novelette, The Mother Earth Insurgency. It’s already got a 4.6 rating on Amazon! If you’re curious about the story, here’s the first one thousand words. If you like it, please consider purchasing the ebook for your Kindle. Thank you!

The rubber slug glanced off Nick Sorrows’ cheekbone, gashing the skin deep enough to make a scar certain. It stung, but he welcomed the laceration. The blood infiltrating the stubble on his jaw hid his intent and reduced the chance he might hesitate.

He stumbled forward, eyes on his quarry, a single individual ahead of him in the angry crowd. A surge carried him toward the police cordon, each officers’ truncheon at the ready. He pressed his right hand to his bleeding check and his left hand on the backs and shoulders of other demonstrators to maintain his balance.

He was part of the seething mass, but not with it. He chanted the protest slogans, but he didn’t sing them as a true believer.

Buy now on Amazon!

He was part of the seething mass, but not with it. He chanted the protest slogans, but he didn’t sing them as a true believer. Nick was like the nano-bots that stalked free-floating cancer cells in the bloodstream. His target was Jon Janicks. Could he stop Janicks before his insurgents assassinated another green energy investor? Maybe Janicks was after a Great Basin solar farm, or one of the Santa Barbara tidal energy converters. Nick had to know. Continue reading

At last! The Mother Earth Insurgency is on sale now at Amazon.

Mother Earth Insurgency cover

The Mother Earth Insurgency, the first release in my Tales From A Warming Planet series, is available now on Amazon for only $0.99.

I’m happy to announce that The Mother Earth Insurgency, the first story in my series Tales From A Warming Planet, is now on sale exclusively at Amazon for 99¢. After nearly ten years of work on this series, it’s thrilling to see it out in the wild. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it for you.

Amazon logo

If you were one of the lucky readers to download a free copy of The Mother Earth Insurgency over the past month or so, please consider writing a review of the book on Amazon or Goodreads. You’re under no obligation to do so, but reviews are very important to the success of independent writers, such as myself.

Also, I’m still on track to release Carbon Run, the first novel in the series, on October 21. Watch this space for information about an upcoming Goodreads Giveaway of the print book.

Thank you so much for your support!