Posts Tagged 'Bold Strokes Books'


by Connie Ward


What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I don’t know that it was a choice. I’ve always wanted to write a novel. Then one day a friend from work told me about her writers’ group and the novels she’d written. That moment was a catalyst for me. I suddenly felt very silly about not writing, like I couldn’t think of a single good reason why I hadn’t already done it. And then I started writing.


What type of stories do you write?  And why?

That seems like it should be such a simple question to answer…

I write lesbian romance. Sometimes suspense. Sometimes erotica. Always lesbian.

Why? Because lesbians kick ass. Clearly.

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

Most of them haven’t read any of my books. Or if they have, I don’t know about it. That’s my doing, not theirs, by the way. I just can’t imagine being able to have a normal conversation with my mother-in-law after she’s read a sex scene that I’ve written.

That said, they all think it’s cool. For sure. How many are lucky enough to write books AND have them published? That’s totally badass. My family and friends are suitably impressed. :)


Where do you get your ideas?

I have no idea. Everywhere? Life? I think about characters I would like to know, and then it all just sort of goes from there.


How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

I have a vague idea how it’s supposed to go. I know the beginning and the ending. The stuff in the middle unfolds as I go.


What makes Uncommon Romance special to you?

That question makes me laugh. For those who haven’t read Uncommon Romance, BSB-UncommonRomanceor know what it’s about, let me offer a little background. Uncommon Romance is a collection of three erotic novellas. It’s by far the smuttiest thing I’ve written, and it was a blast.

But it still makes me giggle to think of it in the context of why it’s special to me. I’m enough of a prude (my mother’s influence) to turn into a fourteen-year-old, incapable of doing anything but blush when thinking about how incredibly dirty it is.

Is it special to me? Sure. It was empowering to write these incredibly graphic scenes about women claiming their sexual power.

Also, Uncommon Romance was a total experiment for me. It’s my first release that’s straight-up lesbian erotica, not romance with erotic elements. Also, it’s a collection of three novellas, rather than one longer story. If I do another erotica release, I think it’ll follow this format again. I like the tight density of a novella. It packs a really solid punch without getting tedious.


How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

I don’t model my characters after people I know, for the most part. I do grab certain characteristics that I like and give them to my characters, but I’m not sure that’s the same thing. I don’t have a single character who, as a whole, could be claimed as a tribute to a living person.

Let me explain. My mom was very conservative, yet one of her staple beliefs was that you treat people with love and respect, no matter what. She believed that people have the right to choose their own path. And it wasn’t her job to act as judge for those decisions. So, even though we were at odds about a lot of things, we were also able to maintain a close and loving relationship.

The moms in “Love and Devotion,” “Split the Aces,” and “Chaps” all share that in common. They treat their children with love and deference and don’t try to live their lives for them. But none of those moms would ever be mistaken for my mom. Ever. They share that one characteristic, but everything else is different.


Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite book of this author(s)?

Wow. So many. Cate Culpepper, Gill McKnight, Yvonne Heidt, Andi Marquette, Lynette Mae, Ashley Bartlett… The list goes on.

The important thing I want to illustrate here is that every one of those women writes in a way that touches me. But more than that, they also have done so much to support me as a writer and to support lesbian fiction as a community.


Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Find a good writing group. Participate. LISTEN.


When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

A perfect day involves time on my bike. I’m not in great shape, but riding my bicycle makes me feel like I can do anything.


Which is the favorite of the books/stories you’ve written and why?

Wow. That is such a tough question because everything I’ve written was incredibly important and filled a specific need when I wrote it. Objectively, though, Love and Devotion is my favorite right now. I expect that will change in the next ten minutes.


I wrote that book after taking a two-year hiatus from writing. I lost my mom, and it took me that long to get to a place where I could even think beyond the grief of that loss. Writing that book meant that I was healing. And I’m really proud of the results. 

Kings of Ruin

by Harmoni

Kings of Ruin

This is the book of my DREAMS because I love cars and awesome supernatural/scifi novels. When you put them together it is an unbelievable story. When I first brought this book home, my father told me he thought the book would be more for boys and not for girls because it has to do with cars and alien-like elements. But I told him it doesn’t matter what gender you are, you can still read the book. And now I want there to be a sequel so that I can continue reading Danny’s adventure.

I can connect to Danny because of his love of cars and going fast, but I will never get my license taken away. I also won’t be reckless. Danny is reckless when he’s about fourteen years old, which is my age right now. He steals a car and drives away from the cops but crashes. As a result, he cannot get his license until he is twenty-one.

When people think of a book with cars, they think male teens should read the book and not female teens. But this is stereotyping because I read the book and loved the book. I love cars because I grew up around cars. It’s not just a “boy” thing. And it’s not just a gay or straight thing. I know how to fix cars, add things to them, and like Danny, I know how to drive even though I’m not sixteen yet. When I’m working on cars, I feel free. Cars are not like people, and they’re not like animals. You have to work on them, and it’s work you can enjoy even though it can take a long time. But in the end it’s a relief because now the car works, and you’re the one that fixed it.

Danny has a sister, and so do I, which is another connection we shared. Rachel reminds me of my sister because she’s really uptight. When she’s talking to Danny, she has that “I’m better than you” status, which is probably normal because she is a step-sister, and her father is Danny’s step-father. I also have a stepfather. This book is filled with connections for me! That could be another reason I connected so strongly to Danny. Danny’s stepfather cares about him and is worried about him, just like my stepfather worries for me. I’m glad the stepfather was portrayed a sympathetic character because it makes it less “Cinderella” like with the “evil” stepmother/father/sibling aspect.

The book is written from Danny and Kevin’s perspective. Kevin is another teen who works to try to find the Kings, which are alien-like substances that take over vehicles to make people crash. The changes in viewpoints give readers a new view on what the characters see and how they feel for events that are happening to them. I connected to Danny more because when he’s doing something, he does it for some specific reason, whether for someone he loves, or because he likes it. Kevin is more “I’m doing this, and I’m doing it without you” because he leaves Danny behind. But Danny keeps pushing and that leads me to think there might be a sequel.

I recommend this novel to teens that like aliens, cars, and romance. There is romance in this book between Danny and Kevin, and Danny is afraid to come out until he’s out of high school. Danny goes to a boarding school and pretends he has a girlfriend, even though he’s gay. I didn’t mind this because it’s what he likes, and it made him more real. And Kevin’s more out in the open about being gay, and he’s more sure that he liked Danny, but he did try to hide it a little.

There NEEDS to be a sequel to this book!


by Connie Ward


What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I don’t really remember a time when I did not want to be a writer. My parents were both avid readers, and I was brought up in a house with literally thousands of books. I really cannot imagine life without books, and my favorites have always been fiction, though I read lots of genres.  I have been through several careers, ranging from theater design to engineering, but I always come back to writing as my true love.


What type of stories do you write?  And why?


My stories definitely fall into the dark speculative-fiction category. My fascination with the supernatural and the darker sides of the human psyche shaped what I write about. If I watch television, I almost always head straight for the shows about true crimes and psychos on the loose. It probably says something about me.

What do your family/friends think about your writing?


My sister and some of my friends have been very supportive, even if they may think I am out of my mind, but many of my friends and family are either not aware that I write or have expressed limited interest.  The most common reaction to my news that Kryos had been picked up by BSB was “You write?” That was usually followed quickly by a look of terror when they realized I might want them to read it. That is the danger of associating with engineers, I suppose: say fiction novel and they turn off.  My online friends, on the other hand, have been great, very supportive and very helpful, even when I am being even more neurotic than usual. I am lucky to have friends all over that help me get a different perspective on things.

Where do you get your ideas?


My ideas come from everywhere. My mind wanders all the time. People think I am just flaky or scatterbrained, but really I am probably torturing some characters in my head instead of paying attention.  I always have a story or character floating around that I like to take out and see if I can break them.  Even if I am not actively working on a project with the characters, I still have a whole cast to play with when I’m supposed to be doing something else.  The upside of that is that I rarely get bored. Silly things, like the unusual way a person moves, or the combination of the song on the radio and the way the sun just came through the clouds might make my muse wake up and start digging around in the virtual trunk to see where it might fit.

How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?


Both. I start with a plan but let it go where it needs to.  This works really well when working with Idun; we try to plot out the major points and then adjust those as we go, though no matter how much planning and plotting we do, the characters sometimes refuse to behave and take things in a different direction. I feel that planning is good, but you have to be open to whatever happens or you’re going to end up with a finished product that doesn’t feel right.

What makes Kyros special to you?


KryosBSB-Kryos is very special to me because it is almost like a child.  It was very organic in its development, and the story we ended up with is not the story we originally plotted. We worked and reworked the plot, the main arcs, the characters, everything until they all decided to play nice with each other.  When I work with Idun, we each take a character (or two, or three) and focus on developing them so as we write we can play off each other so the novel can grow more naturally.  There is always an element of surprise when working with another author. You think a scene or story may be going one way, but because it is not just you playing in the sandbox, sometimes something so much better comes out.

How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?


Surprisingly little, actually. I have a project now that is based on a dream a friend told me he had, so the main character does have a bit of him in it, but for the most part, no.  I try not to put too much of myself or the people I know into the characters; they are their own creatures. Also, I am very dull and would make a terrible character.

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite

of this author(s)?


My fascination with gay fiction started a long time ago, before I even knew it was something anyone was writing; it was pre-Internet in those days. Then I discovered slash fan-fiction, which led to Yaoi, which led to authors like Sarah Monette, Alyx J. Shaw, Storm Constantine, and Lynn Flewelling.

If I had to pick a favorite from these authors I would have a really hard time because they all fill a different spot in my life. Sarah Monette and her Doctrine of Labyrinths series is an all-time favorite of mine; Felix is delightfully deranged and twisted.  Alyx J. Shaw’s Strange Place in Time series is so fun that I could not put the books down.  Lynn Flewelling’s books are also some of those I go back to like comfort food if I find myself between books and not sure what to pick up next. However, for the author that inspired me the most I will have to go with Storm Constantine and the Wraeththu books. Reading those I realized that I wanted to write something others would want to read. The imperfect characters and their gritty, dark world appealed to me on a level that made it possible for me to quit being afraid that what was in my head was not good enough, or shiny enough, and actually sit down and put it on paper.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?


I still consider myself a new/learning writer, especially going through the publishing process for the first time, so I’m not sure. This process has shown me how much I still have to learn, and it is humbling. I would think the best I could say is to remember to be flexible and patient. I guess I am lucky that my “day job” is in a field that brings a constant stream of criticism and comments on my work. I never thought I would say that, but it has taught me how to not get upset at comments and be able to look at them for what they are—an attempt to make my work better.

When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?


I read.  If I’m not reading or writing, I’m baking.  I can’t say no to a challenge, and my friends and family like to find the most bizarre and unusual desserts to see if I can make them. The pie baked inside a cake has become a hit that they request frequently now.

I’ve Got a Secret

By Yolanda Wallace

I have a confession to make. For the past year, I have been living a double life. But I think it’s time for me to come clean.

Deep breath in. Let it out slowly. Okay, here goes.

I am Mason Dixon.

If you’re saying, “Who?”, you must not have read “Mason’s” book Date with Destiny,Date with Destiny 300 DPI which was recently nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in the Lesbian Romance category.

If you’re saying, “Really?”, I have two responses for you: 1) Thank you and 2) surprise!!!!

I didn’t set out to become Mason. I set out to write a book about an African-American woman who works at a bank in Savannah. Since I am an African-American woman who works at a bank in Savannah, I didn’t want anyone who might read the book to think it was autobiographical. (With the bank robbery element thrown in, I definitely didn’t want my employers to think that way, either). Thus the idea for Mason was born.

A funny thing happened along the way, though. Writing as Mason instead of Yolanda felt liberating. It gave me permission to explore different characters and themes and play with language in a way I had never done before.

Now—in my mind, at least—Mason has become her own brand. A writer who tells stories featuring a predominantly African-American cast of characters, which you don’t often see in lesfic.

I chose Mason Dixon as a pen name because if Date with Destiny didn’t turn out to be a one-book lark, I intended to set all of Mason’s subsequent novels in the South. But you know me. The motto for my writing is “Go between the covers and take a trip around the world.” I like to move around the globe too much to stick to one region of the country. Accordingly, Mason’s next book won’t be set in the South but in Baltimore.

Charm City, Charm City 300 DPIwhich will be released in August, features Raquel Overstreet and Bathsheba Morris—a bare-knuckles boxer who works for a drug dealer and an undercover cop determined to bring Raquel’s employer and everyone for works for him to justice. Doesn’t sound anything like Month of Sundays, does it? I liked the characters so much when I completed the first draft of Charm City, I’m actually contemplating a first for me, a (gasp!) sequel.

I shouldn’t say that too loud, though. I haven’t received the notes from my editor on Charm City yet. Depending on what she says, I might have to adjust my rosy outlook. Right now, though, I’m flying high.

The Lammy nomination for Date with Destiny came as a complete surprise. I’m in with some really heavy hitters—Lynn Ames, Gerri Hill, D. Jordan Redhawk, Ann McMan and Salem West, Tracey Richardson, Karin Kallmaker, and Bold Strokes’ own Andrea Bramhall, D. Jackson Leigh, and Nell Stark—so I sincerely doubt I’ll win, but it feels wonderful to have something that began as a fun experiment receive the honor of being judged one of the ten best lesbian romances that was published last year. I’ve been gobsmacked and incredibly humbled by that notion ever since I received the e-mail containing the list of finalists. Never in a million years did I expect Mason’s name to be included. Then again, I didn’t expect my name to be included last year for Month of Sundays, either. Talk about your pleasant surprises.

The only bad part of this whole thing? Deciding which of my personas should tackle a story idea once it comes to me. Should I write this one as Mason or myself? It’s a good problem to have, I suppose, though my poor partner may be a trifle confused by all the costume changes. But it keeps things interesting, which I hope can be said for any book I write, no matter which name appears on the cover.


by Connie Ward


What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I have been writing since forever. My grandmother actually has little notebooks I filled up with strange tales of killer ants and Vikings. Later I got into fan-fiction and sorta worked from there, got braver, better, and bolder until I felt I was able to write a story in, for me, a foreign language, that had substance and that I believed in.


What type of stories do you write? And why?

Originally I wrote mostly depressing stories and horror. I guess I still write depressing stories to some extent, and I also don’t think I will ever rid myself completely of the horror or suspense parts, nor would I really want to. But overall, I write gay romance and simply do not have an answer as to why. I wish I did. I guess the muse that whispers in my ear is gay? I might even start out with the character plotted as straight, but somewhere along the road it changes, and my muses always win in the end.

I vary in range. I have written anything from medieval romance, to sci-fi, to supernatural crime stories. So in that aspect I don’t think I am a one-track author, even if I might repeat myself from time to time.


What do your family/friends think about your writing?

They support me, but they don’t really understand my writing. For starters I am not gay, or a man, so for me to write gay fiction seems strange to them. And then there is the part about me writing in English, so most of them can’t read it even if they wanted to, which probably alienates them quite a lot. My partner has been a trooper throughout me writing my first book, supporting me when I got frustrated and listening to me try to explain the plot. He helps out where he can, and so do my close friends, both in real life and on the Internet. All in all I think everyone has been super supportive, even if they think it’s a bit silly that I would even attempt to get something published.


Where do you get your ideas?

Oh man, I get ideas everywhere. I have a scenario bank in my head, where I store stuff that might make sense in another context. It goes from the way the air smells, to how a jogger runs, or the pattern that rain makes on a window. Characters in movies could spark the muse because of a specific line, or maybe how they look, or maybe the theme of the movie. Also I watch a lot of documentaries, which I use for inspiration about things I’d never know any other way. Then when I go to bed I sort of draw all the pearls onto a string, and it creates a whole. I also find that something I can’t use and it goes back in for later use. The next morning I usually write my thoughts down in a simplified manner so I won’t forget.

In short I get inspired by everything and nothing. It’s like putting on a special tinted pair of glasses so I perceive everything in a specific way for a while. Once I start a story or a character I will not put it down completely until I finish.


How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

I usually make a plan, and usually Heather is the practical one who keeps track of the brainstorming. I think we are good at keeping to highlights and then making everything else up as we go along. Usually that works best and keeps the muses whispering.



What makes KryosBSB-Kryos special to you?

Apart from it being my first major accomplishment as an author? Then the fact that it originally took us so long to write it and that I grew quite fond of the characters. And I really hope we get around to revisiting them and write a sequel, because I miss the universe and the characters.


How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

In some, quite a lot, and then at the same time, nothing. I guess different characters have parts of different character traits of mine, both the good and the bad. Writing is great therapy, that’s for sure.


Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?

I would say that Billy Martin (formerly known as Poppy Brite) has been a major inspiration from some of the early works.

I am not sure if Clive Barker counts, because he doesn’t exactly write gay-themed stories, but he remains one of my all-time inspirations both as an author and a person.


Of the authors mentioned, I would say that Exquisite Corpse is my favorite, and a major inspiration for me. It blends erotica and horror in equal measurement, just like I always wished someone would. Also it showed me that it can be done and gave me a whole new sandbox to play in.


Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Write what inspires you, write what your muse tells you to. It doesn’t matter if you think there might not be a market for it. Write it with intensity and care, because forcing your inspiration never leads to good things. Love what you write, for no other reason than you cannot resist telling the story.

You are never too silly, never too corny or too much. You should tell your story like the story wants to be told.


When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

I play computer games, and lots of them. I rarely watch telly; usually I write, read, or play when I have time to myself.  Some might say that I have become a social recluse over the years, but once the partying dries up, you have to entertain yourself with something else.

Graduation Scenes



Earlier today I had a thought. Katya and Starbride have been with me for five years. That’s time enough to know someone inside and out. I always thought that saying was kind of gross, but when it comes to fictional characters, I understand. I know these people, not only what they look like but how they feel, how they’d respond to every situation. And now my time with them is drawing to a close.

*Cue “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” by Boyz II Men, the song of many a senior class in the 90′s*

I hear you saying, “I thought you hated these characters! You whined about that enough on Facebook.” I know I did, but now that I’m at the end of my time with them, I’m a little sentimental.

And now you’re thinking, “We’re here to talk about A Kingdom Lost, A Kingdom Lost 300 DPIthe third Katya and Starbride book. Won’t there be a fourth in January 2015?” People, please hold all questions until the end.

There will be a fourth book, The Fiend Queen, and after it, I’ll be done with Katya’s and Starbride’s current story. The end is on my mind because I’m now wrapping up the draft that will go to Bold Strokes for editing. By January, I’ll have forgotten what it feels like to finish writing a series. Seeing my entire series in print will be a far different feeling, one that will probably make want to celebrate and throw up at the same time, maybe from nerves and maybe from tequila. Maybe both.

Long ago, I’d thought to write a three book series, but as I started A Kingdom Lost, I knew I wouldn’t have room to include everything I wanted or have my characters grow and change the way I’d planned. I’d have to rush my ending, hurry through confrontations, and sweep conflict under the rug. And what about the love? Rush that, too, the very thing that’s propelled this story from the beginning? Don’t rush the love, baby.

They say the journey is more important than the destination (except in the case of long car trips). For Katya and Star, being apart after just falling in love, fearing for each other’s lives and making decisions based on that fear, that’s what’s important. I wanted to show each step of their journey, so the reader could be with them.

After you’ve read A Kingdom Lost, you can be sure I’ve got you in book four, that your questions will be answered, and we can graduate tearfully but happily and probably hate our class song for the rest of our lives.

But here’s something you won’t hate. I’m doing a giveaway. Leave a comment here, and you’ll automatically be entered twice! Get all the details on my blog.

Bold Strokes Books Author Interview with Rosalie Tarr

by Connie Ward


What made you decide to become a fiction writer?


Writing fiction was never something that I one day woke up and decided to do. Some of my earliest memories are of telling stories to my family. I’d make up plays that my younger sister and I acted out in front of my two other siblings and mother, and I was always creating the premise for our imaginary play, describing everyone’s characters and purpose. I suppose being a storyteller came naturally to me.

As soon as I learned to write, I was putting my stories onto paper and creating my first chapter books, which were only fifteen pages long but felt like an enormous accomplishment at the time. When I was a preteen, I recognized writing as a serious hobby and began to invest a lot of time in my projects, always dreaming about one day becoming a published author.


What type of stories do you write?  And why?


I’ve only ever written fictional stories in the paranormal and sci-fi genres: vampires, werewolves, dragons, aliens, scientifically modified humans, and so on. From a young child up, I was captivated by such tales and grew passionate about creating my own stories with such intriguing and exciting characters. Anything else was boring. A great story had to have an element of magic in it—an escape from reality, where anything is possible.


What do your family/friends think about your writing?


Because of the conservative religious household I grew up in, I kept my writing a very private hobby. My family knew I loved to write, but they were never allowed to read my work. I was paranoid my mother would lecture me about the “demonic” influence behind the topics I chose to write about—and rightly so, because that happened more than once.

So, unfortunately, I had little to no support for my writing, meaning I had no one to tell me to keep going when I felt like quitting. I don’t even know how many unfinished novels I have floating around in my history. Some were over half done. Quite a few are lost to me now after years of relocation and computer upgrades. I wasn’t aware of the purpose of floppy discs, and later flash drives, until it was already too late.

Now that I’m married with a family of my own, I still find it hard to open up about the subject matter of my books. The need for secrecy feels so deeply ingrained in me that I haven’t allowed my own husband to proofread my work. I’m happy to report that my outlook is slowly changing as I’ve learned to accept that what I’m writing about isn’t in any way wrong.

Where do you get your ideas?


I’m inspired by the countless movies and books I immerse myself in—almost all of which are, of course, in the only two genres I care about, sci-fi and paranormal. After I read a book or watch a movie, I imagine how I would have written it differently, and I apply certain elements of that story to my own writing.


How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

I’ve always had a bad habit of forming the gist of an idea, getting excited about it, and then sitting down and writing whatever comes to me. However, this style usually results in work that’s riddled with repetitive phrases, continuity errors, and overall poor flow. I then have to invest twice as many hours in the editing phase.

I’ve learned my lesson over the years, and I’ve become better about sitting down after I get excited about an idea and writing a simple outline that covers the opening, middle, and end of the plot. The in-between writing is still better left to “just writing,” as I tend to change my mind about what feels right when I get to that point in the story.


What makes Bonded special to you?


Bonded BSB-Bondedis my first gay novel, and it started as an idea when I was eighteen years old. I knew from the time I was in elementary school that I was bisexual, but it was a secret I kept so deeply buried that I’d never dream about exploring LGBTQ media. I was so sheltered from homosexuality that I didn’t even know any existed! I remember being flabbergasted when I heard about Brokeback Mountain. So, Bonded remained only an idea for years. I would write a few paragraphs here and there for my own entertainment, but I never assumed I could do anything with it.

It wasn’t until I discovered online writing communities like Wattpad that I decided to put my idea out there and see how it was accepted. That was when I realized my idea wasn’t unique—thousands of gay romances existed out there! Quite a number of them had similar plots to my own, and seeing that I wasn’t alone inspired me to finish my novel. So, Bonded is a first for me in a lot of ways, and that’s what makes it special to me.


How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?


There is always a good bit of myself in my characters; I use my writing to explore different facets of my personality. Of course, I don’t use myself alone. I’m inspired by my relationships and encounters with all sorts of people to build my characters—from an eccentric family member to the wise homeless man on the bus.

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite

of this author(s)?


I’ve said this already, but I had zero exposure to gay and lesbian literature before the last year and a half—at least, I wasn’t aware of it as a genre in and of itself. So, unfortunately, I don’t have any favorite gay/lesbian authors. As a young adult, I was inspired by Holly Black’s gay couple in her novel Ironside. I recall feeling elated that gay feelings were so openly explored, and I wanted to accomplish something similar.





Do you have any suggestions for new writers?


If you don’t have a lot of support at home by either family or friends, I highly recommend joining online communities for writers. Share your work, help others to succeed, and FINISH what you started. Even if you get bored with the idea of something, you’ll be glad when it’s done. You can always go back through to edit the parts you don’t like.


When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

I’m a stay-at-home mother of two rambunctious preschool boys and am currently seven months pregnant with a little girl. I hardly have a moment alone for writing, let alone anything else!

In the wintertime, my idea of fun is getting everybody out of the house, even if it’s to the grocery store. And when we come back in the evening and the kids are in bed, I enjoy letting my mind wander in front of the TV or while browsing the ’net.

Summer is a lot more enjoyable for me. I love taking the kids to the park or the pool, going on long walks, and attending summer events downtown.

Really, I suppose anything where my whole family is together and I’m not cooking or cleaning in the process is a fun time!

The Amazon Trail

By Lee Lynch

Tax Equality

Tax season is such a delight. Just as the daffodils bloom where we live, so do the tax forms. Truly, I doubt there are as many daffodils on earth as there are tax forms. A big pile of them reside in our home.


With marriage equality comes more responsibility. Well, not for me; my sweetheart has the fortitude and know-how to tackle whatever the I.R.S. demands of us. I cower in my writing chair, grateful to her for yet another reason.

Things are no so equal in our household in this one way, but oh so much more equal than in brackets far above ours. I keep reading about mega billionaires and corporations that don’t pay any taxes. About places to hide money offshore. And I think about gay people more than willing to pay not just taxes, but the “marriage tax,” in exchange for acceptance in the United States.

I’ve always been willing to pay my taxes without complaint. It’s clear to me that’s how you run a country. I was tempted to withhold them in protest against the Viet Nam war. Fortunately, I didn’t have to because my earnings have never been high enough to warrant making out a check to the I.R.S. Perhaps I’d feel differently if I made the big bucks?

Probably not. The taxes taken out from 50 years of paychecks have paid for horrific things. Collateral damage, napalm, the salaries of politicians who don’t know the difference between government and religion. Enforcement of discriminatory laws, troops and law enforcement savaging protesters, sacrificing our young to unwise military actions.

No way are enough of our taxes used for education, public transportation or help for small farmers competing with mega agribusiness. Our food is in danger for the sake of profit making and for lack of funds to inspect it. The Affordable Care Act should be swollen with cash, not a bulls-eye for target practice. Head Start, daycare workers, caregivers – if only the federal and state governments followed the lead of businesses like Working Assets and let taxpayers check off our spending preferences from a list.

The money leaves our hands and we might as well hold Easter egg hunts among the daffodils and newly green grasses to find it again. We could use some of that cash on the federal highway near our home; it’s crumbling into the Pacific. This area is seeing unprecedented numbers of homeless people asking for handouts on street corners. There is money to roust them from unauthorized homeless camps, but not to pay them to repair the highway. Hey, how about monies to help homeless gay teens? Or using all that moola we spend fighting marijuana to sniff out meth labs in every state.

Whatever happened to investing in our country? There isn’t even money to go after the big tax scofflaws. Tax rebels abound. I’d think it would be simple: you live here, you pay for the privilege. It’s for our own good. What makes sense about tax protesters who call themselves patriots?

Working for the I.R.S. has become dangerous. There’s a law enforcement term, Potentially Dangerous Taxpayer (PDT), for people who threaten or intimidate I.R.S. employees, contractors and/or their families. A recent interview of such an employee revealed that she and co-workers at a large I.R.S. processing center hide their occupations from neighbors and strangers because they are fearful of reprisals for doing their jobs.

By the time the daylilies come up in our little yard, the taxes will be done. DSC01048This is a complex year for us tax-wise, because of our 2013 move, my sweetheart’s job changes and my retirement from wage-paying work. Next year our pile of forms won’t rival the height of lamp posts.

The best news is that spring has sprung. The first fluffed out robin sat on a bush outside our kitchen window for quite a while yesterday, as if wondering why he came back only to find rain and 60 mile per hour winds. Other good news is the modest tax refund we’ll get for the three years since our legal marriage. Not exactly reparations for the way gays have been treated while responsibly paying our share. It’s a very welcome refund, though. Maybe we’ll tithe part to one of the great organizations that helped make our marriage legal and our tax statement a joint one.P1290384


Copyright Lee Lynch 2014

Because of Her

Guest Blog by Claire C 

When I was coming out to myself, I devoured every young adult book I could locate in the public library with a queer teen in it. Once I finished those, I read any I could find online. They helped me through a really confusing time in my life and even though I’m past that (or at least I try to be), I still read them like crazy. It wasn’t until this past fall that I realized the importance of the books I’ve been reading.

Every time I question myself, I can draw confidence from these stories. It doesn’t matter that they’re fictional, they are just as meaningful to me as most non-fiction. I find bits and pieces of myself and my identity in every book. They are so valuable because when queer teens can’t find acceptance in the people around them, we can find it on the pages of books like Because of HerBecause of Her 300 DPI by K.E. Payne.

What makes this book especially significant to me is the ease with which I can relate to it. I haven’t experienced all the things these characters have, but I too have come out to parents and friends, struggled with the way peers see me, and not been able to take my eyes off “The Girl”. It provides an escape from the real world in some ways, but it also connects me to the situations I, and those around me, may be experiencing. By connecting me to these, I can look at them differently and understand them in new ways. Perhaps most importantly, I can work to move past these struggles because this book reminded me that it is possible.

While Because of Her connects me to the challenges of being a queer teen, it does something much more important than that. It connects me to all the things that are wonderful about it. How good it feels to be honest about who you are, the thrill of telling others and knowing that you are confident in your identity even if they aren’t. It reminds me that I’m never alone and that dealing with the challenges of high school doesn’t have to make them the worst four years of my life, they can be amazing because there are a lot of things to enjoy. I felt the happiness of Tabby and let it carry over into my own life. I don’t have to live vicariously through her, I can take her experiences and let them remind of the joy to be found outside of reading.

Because of Her is the kind of YA book that makes a difference without being forced. It doesn’t tell you how all people my age are supposed to feel, but it reminds us there are others who have gone through the same things as us. Everyone has been this age, but some people seem to have lost the ability to understand how it feels to be a high schooler. Thank goodness K.E. Payne hasn’t because people my age, myself included, need writers like her telling stories for and about us. Thank you to K.E. Payne and all the other authors of Bold Strokes Books Soliloquy titles for writing books with queer teens that comfort and connect us with stories like ours. Your books are so valuable and have helped me through more than you can know in more ways than you can imagine.

There Will Be Blood


Before you read the next sentence, first close your eyes and think of something romantic. (While much of this blog is female focused, it ultimately applies to everyone.)

What popped into your head? Sunset picnic? Moonlit walk on the beach? Shared bubble bath? Candle-lit dinner involving champagne and dark chocolate?

Romantic Bed & Breakfast

How about: blood?

No? Didn’t top the list?

Oh, come on, ladies. What gets you in the mood better than a diaper-size maxi pad between your legs, making you feel endlessly sexy?

Okay, that might be a stretch.

But I do want to talk about blood. Yours and mine.


Although I’m not a doctor or nurse, in my own tiny way I’ve tried to help people in the health care arena. How? By giving blood. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do so recently. Last year I was turned down every time I tried to donate, due to low iron levels. Supplements didn’t help.

During that time, my already heavy periods became worse. I never realized just how bad they were because I never really talked about it with anyone until recently. When you have heavy periods from the get-go, you live with it. You’re only thinking how you’re single-handedly keeping Spray ‘N Wash in business, or how the “over a 4 month supply” promise on those jumbo Tampax boxes is false advertising.

Things progressed to a point where my entrepreneurial side kicked in. I mean, if I could improve the extraction, storage and sanitization methods, maybe I could:

-    Sell it for chum;

-    Sell it as an exotic drink (you’ve heard of the Sour Toe Cocktail, right? HERE);

-    Swim alongside Diana Nyad to divert sharks to me instead of her.

I started talking about it with some friends. One had such heavy periods that the blood clots she expelled were the size of small animals—her own red, drowned menagerie! Another opened her browser and showed me a host of products designed to deal with the issue. We laughed about some of our most embarrassing moments resulting from “that time of the month.” I never realized how raunchy and fun women could be when discussing menstruation.

Turns out that producing so much blood isn’t normal. I had an asteroid-size fibroid lodged in exactly the right place to give me the fire hose cycle. Because it could grow and increase the chances of iron-deficiency anemia that could have deleterious effects on my heart, I elected to have it removed.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to donate blood again, but I have high hopes I’ll be able to do so again later this year. In the meantime, I ask you to do what I cannot.

This brings me back to romance, one of my favorite subjects. Romance by one definition involves heroic or marvelous deeds.

And it’s where you come in.

Due to extreme winter weather that’s hit the East Coast, there’s a severe blood shortage across the U.S. Even without that added concern, both here and abroad, the need is ongoing and global.
Giving blood is one of those little yet extraordinary things we can do regularly that can really help someone in need. All it costs is about an hour of our time roughly every other month. Unless you’re a competitive athlete, you’ll be back up to full speed in 24 to 48 hours.
Some of us can’t give blood for various reasons and that’s okay. But if you can donate, please do. Consider:

-    Someone needs blood every two seconds.

-    About 1 in 7 people entering a hospital need blood.

-    One pint of blood can save up to three lives.

Romance novelists sometimes write about second chances. But we write fiction.

My debut romance novel, Like Jazz,Like Jazz 300 DPI is a story about second chances. But it’s fiction.

If you think about the second chance you might be giving to someone because you donated blood, you might just become the hero in someone else’s story. That’s real life, folks.

And you thought blood wasn’t romantic.

Find a blood drive near you: 

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