Archive for December, 2010

The Accidental Mommy

by Justine Saracen

I didn’t wanna do it.

It is a truism that most lesbians have pets. I myself have helped make up this population for thirty years as an owner/servant of cats, and then for another five or six as a co-habitant of budgies and lovebirds.

However…full disclosure here…I was a pet snob. I didn’t do dogs.

Dogs, I felt, were for a more rough and tumble, less refined lesbian than I. Dogs could be loveable, I freely acknowledged, but they were over the top, had body odor, and stinky breath, and they tended to lick you under the chin and leave pungent saliva on your hands. And then there was the twice-daily ‘walkies’ and the warm steaming plastic bag you occasionally had to carry away. Not for me, thank you very much.

Then, out of nowhere, my friend Françoise called to say her friend Adele had suffered a sudden stroke. Adele’s aged cat was already put to sleep, and since Françoise’s house was already full of animals, Adele’s family was frantic to find someone to take the dog so that they wouldn’t have to kill her as well. To be specific, they desperately needed someone who 1) loved animals, 2) was thoroughly responsible, and 3) worked at home, like a – ahem— writer.

The description sounded eerily familiar.

What kind of dog, I asked hesitantly, sensing the unmistakable presence of a hook about to lock into my jaw. I live in a tiny house, so if it was the big romping-on-the-beach kind, I’d be off the hook, so to speak.

No, it was a lapdog, Françoise replied. A mix of two adorable small breeds, who could melt glaciers with her big brown eyes.

Welllll, I said. I’ll take a look at her. But I had asthma, and too much dog hair in the house could kill me. And I didn’t even have a good vacuum cleaner.

No problem, Françoise said. And I’ll help you pick out a nice dust-free, anti-allergic vacuum cleaner. It could raise your whole standard of living.

Oooookay, I mumbled and about four seconds after I hung up, Françoise was at the door, doggie in arms.

Well, it took one look for my maternal hormones to kick in. The sad little creature was so adorable, I nearly lactated. But she was also bereaved, having been kept for a week by a guardian while her owner lay in a coma before succumbing. The dog whimpered and ran to the door at every sound, expecting it to be Mommy come at last to take her home. But of course it never was, never would be.  It was heart breaking.

Even if time does not erase sorrow, it dulls it, and so in a few days we got to know each other and negotiated a modus vivendi. ‘Negotiate’ may not be the right word. I had, for example, made an ironclad resolve NOT to let her sleep with me – a resolve that evaporated the first night. Then I explained to her that she had to stay far away from my face, upon which she made herself comfortable on my chest.

She got a new name, Cherubino, which my friends immediately changed to the French Cherubin (Sher oo ban).

The dog was free, though I knew the whole project would involve some cost. Most important was asthma prevention. Françoise accompanied me to the appliance store and took command of my credit card. I heard only the rapid and largely unintelligible discussion in French about ‘l’aspirateur le plus anti-allergique” and the obedient clicking of my fingers typing out my pin code into the little machine at the sales desk. Then, the deal was done. I had bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner, for 400 Euros. I swallowed hard, but moved onto the pet store where I purchased a handsome carrying sack (40 Euros) a doggie winter coat (60 Euros), a stretchy leash, 2 squeaky toys, puppy shampoo and three kilos of special chow (45 Euros).

When I got home, with Cherubin alternating between my lap and my chest, I calculated: I had spent five hundred forty five Euros ($726).  For a used dog.

It was worth every penny.

What an experience to have something that loves you grovelingly, submissively, and unconditionally. Who whimpers with ecstasy when you scratch her chest, goes hysterical with joy when you come back from the grocery store, lets you put on her clunky but stylish winter coat and parade her through the streets of Brussels. Who doesn’t mind being shampooed after she gets into the garbage. Who looks up at you with big sad eyes when she pees in the park to make sure you know she has held it until the right moment.

So THIS is why lesbians have dogs. Who knew?

The Amazon Trail

 

Believing in Santa

          I came across this retweet on Twitter:  “1 kid still believes in Santa, 1 doesn’t. Thank God there isn’t a WikiLeaks for preschoolers” (From Hide and Seek Media, @ruminations.)  

          Wouldn’t it be cool if there really was a Santa Claus? I don’t remember learning that he was a figment of the adult imagination, but I must have, and must have been disappointed. I think the revelation came in stages. In the next to final stage my mother would have admitted something like, “Daddy and I help Santa.” Perfectly believable. Pulling the wool over kids’ eyes only takes a little imagination.

          I’d prefer a WikiLeaks for adults that would reveal something like: Santa is a lesbian; and for snopes.com to confirm it. The lesbian or gay male Santa/s would always distribute homeless kittens, puppies and other pets to deserving caretakers, especially those who are the only gay people in nursing homes. S/he would carry sacks and sacks of high spirits as well as mentors for gay kids. For grownup gays, instead of games that use Get-Out-of-Jail-Free cards, Santa would produce Get-Out-of-the-Closet-Free passes.

          With a finger classically at the side of the famous Santa nose, and winking at spiritual gays, our hero would give unenlightened anti-gays huge raggedy old stockings filled with coal and the names of miners killed or injured while digging it out of the earth. The elves would sneak candy canes made of common sense into the offices of politicians and refuse to leave until each elected official choked down every last sweet scrap.

          To the parents of baby dykes and fledgling faeries s/he would bring pretty packages of unconditional love to use unsparingly on their offspring, whatever their true genders or sexualities. Every Bob Cratchit and first-nameless Mrs. Cratchit would win the lottery so they could properly care for and educate Tiny Tim and his siblings, even the gay ones.

          Santa would chuckle magnificently as s/he showered my beloved wife, who does have a first name and it’s Sweetheart, with everything her big heart desired. And any of us gays who wanted a Mac Air or an iPad bad, would get one and we’d write gay and lez lit on them.

          Every soldier, gay or straight, would receive a plowshare, or even a whole plow, under the tree, while elves (aka faeries) would magically disappear every weapon on the globe. Al-Qaeda might get some of those sensible candy canes and some of that coal, if we could find them. Corporate directors would get genuine hearts, and they wouldn’t be made of candy. President Obama would get back his dark hair and a veteran’s expertise from former President Clinton. Oh, wait, that part’s already happening.

          Ellen DeGeneres’s stocking would be filled with a contract for the primest prime time talk show. TV and radio would be gifted with inspiration to replace greed and return to entertainment instead of right-wing proselytizing. Fox, in, specific would get a stocking filled with emails suggesting they present balanced news and information. Hollywood would receive scripts in which the gay characters don’t get killed off at the end and are allowed to live happily ever after. David Sedaris would have a piece in the New Yorker every week. Oh, wait up again, that would be a gift for me, but I’ll bet he wouldn’t mind.

          Newly out gay geeks would receive gaydar apps.  Santa would give the spirit of the holidays to amazon.com, which would, in turn, give lesbian and gay male publishers a bigger percentage. Without war and the divisions that create it, without putting all this money into fighting for our rights, we’d have more resources to feed the hungry and cure the sick – is that too much to ask, MyGaySanta.com? Or maybe someone should buy the domain name, MyGaySanta.com, and seriously figure out how to bring gifts like these to the world. Pulling the wool off grownups’ eyes would take only a little imagination.

          Merry holidays to all and to all a good new year.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2010

(December 2010)

A Christmas Tribute

by VK Powell

For Christmas this year I wanted to pay tribute to some of the unsung heroes of BSB, the people who make writers look good whether we really are or not—our editors. In their honor I’ve created a little ditty, a variation on The Twelve Days of Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 
a bloody red manuscript. 

On the second day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the third day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the fourth day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out
four lame conflicts, 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the fifth day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 
five POV shifts, 
four lame conflicts, 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the sixth day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 
six passive voices, 
five POV shifts, 
four lame conflicts, 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the seventh day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 
seven heads a-hopping, 
six passive voices, 
five POV shifts, 
four lame conflicts, 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the eighth day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 
eight added hyphens, 
seven heads a-hopping, 
six passive voices, 
five POV shifts, 
four lame conflicts, 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the ninth day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 
nine leading gerunds, 
eight added hyphens, 
seven heads a-hopping, 
six passive voices, 
five POV shifts, 
four lame conflicts, 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the tenth day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 

ten missing commas, 
nine leading gerunds, 
eight added hyphens, 
seven heads a-hopping, 
six passive voices, 
five POV shifts, 
four lame conflicts, 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out
eleven Track Changes, 
ten missing commas, 
nine leading gerunds, 
eight added hyphens, 
seven heads a-hopping, 
six passive voices, 
five POV shifts, 
four lame conflicts, 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript. 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, 
my editor pointed out 

twelve disembodiments, 
eleven Track Changes, 
ten missing commas, 
nine leading gerunds, 
eight added hyphens, 
seven heads a-hopping, 
six passive voices, 
five POV shifts, 
four lame conflicts, 
three weak verbs, 
two bad clichés, 
and a bloody red manuscript.

BOOK BUZZ ENTERS THE TERRIBLE TWOS

 

By John Morgan Wilson

About this time two years ago, I contacted Charles Flowers, then the executive director of the Lambda Literary Foundation, and offered to put together a monthly column of LGBTQ writing and publishing news for the foundation’s website.   My idea was to create an online bulletin board for the LGBT writing and publishing community, a place where we could track what others were doing, promote our work, and avail ourselves of the many resources out there that publish, support, and honor LGBT writing.

For those of you who don’t know about the LLF, it’s the largest nonprofit that specifically supports LGBTQ writers and publishers, among many other fine organizations that work in this area.  The LLF is responsible for the annual Lambda Literary Awards, offers retreats and workshops, author readings, reviews LGBTQ books, posts interviews with LGBTQ authors, and is a general resource for LGBTQ writers, editors, publicists, and publishers.  If you haven’t already, you might check out its revamped and widely expanded site at http://www.lambdaliterary.org/.

The column I suggested, Book Buzz, went online two years ago this January 1.  The guidelines were pretty simple: We need brief items of only a few lines of LGBTQ writing and publishing news such as awards, rave reviews, new video trailers, writing or teaching fellowships, film deals, notable reissues, plays to be produced, national writing festivals or conferences, print or online interviews with authors, literary magazine news, and so on.  Book Buzz does not run book release announcements or local author events, such as readings, but almost anything else goes.  Complete information is needed each time an item is submitted: the author’s full name, book title, publisher, when published, the angle of the item in a line or two (such as an award), the LGBT connection (is the author out, is the protagonist gay, etc.), and web links (not embedded) to as many elements in the item as possible (author’s site, publisher, group, publication, review, etc., as appropriate).  Basically, one hundred words or so should do it.

We started with about fifteen items and are now running more than forty each month.  That’s wonderful – but also presents a problem.  Many contributors aren’t adhering to the guidelines and some don’t even bother to read the column before submitting.   I get many items that ramble on, paragraph after paragraph, yet still lack essential information, have embedded links that don’t transfer to my copy, are months old, and so on.  Some authors assume I’ll remember them or their book from previous columns and don’t bother to include their last name or book title.  Shaping up these items has become so time-consuming that in the coming year I’ll have to reject them and hope the contributor will take the time to revise and resubmit according to the guidelines.  I don’t expect items to be perfect – my job is to edit, after all – but they need to be close to the guidelines.

Ultimately, I hope that Book Buzz includes many more of you, giving you a chance to reach more readers and fellow writers. But as more items come in, we’ll need to work together to streamline the process each month.  You can help by studying the column to see what works and follow the guidelines I’ve outlined above.  Here’s the Book Buzz link: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/news/12/02/book-buzz-24/.

Meanwhile, thanks to all the Book Buzzers who have been sending in items and making the column what it is (Bold Strokes Books has been terrific in that regard), and may everyone have health, peace, and good writing and reading in the coming year.

John Morgan Wilson is a veteran journalist and fiction writer, perhaps best known for his Benjamin Justice series, which has won three Lambda Literary Awards for best gay men’s mystery and an Edgar Allan Poe Award (AKA “the Edgar”) from Mystery Writers of America for best first novel.  Bold Stroke Books has reissued John’s early novels, including Simple Justice, his 1997 Edgar winner.  John’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Blithe House Quarterly, and various anthologies.

Nothing but the Truth

One of the coolest things about writing legal dramas is the plethora of legalese I get to choose from to use as titles for books. I particulary love “nothing but the truth” (from the oath taken by witnesses at trial), because it a complete misnomer. At trial, witnesses only get to answer the questions they are asked. The result is often a half-told tale, true in its parts, but the whole doesn’t always add up to a completely truthful version of the events.

In my fourth novel, Nothing but the Truth (January 2011 release, available for preorder now), I explore the themes of truth v. lies, right v. wrong, and women loving women  – it is a romance after all. AND, because no blog from me would be complete with out the V word  – that’s video, folks – here’s a shiny, polished version of my usual vlogging (thanks to the women of Zoom ‘n Dog Video):

12 Days of Holiday Fun Book Giveaway!

Over at Women & Words, we’re doing a 12 days of (insert your holiday of choice here) book give away.  A veritable cornucopia o’ awesomeness and sharin’ the luuuuuv!

We’ve scheduled different authors for different days, and several Bold Strokes authors are featured (see the list below). We’ll be posting a blog EACH DAY for 12 DAYS with that day’s feaured authors/books BEGINNING MONDAY, DECEMBER 13.

If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for that day, your first step is to head over to Women & Words.  There you need to leave a comment on that day’s blog (don’t worry, we’ll include instructions every time). When you fill out the comment form (name, email), make sure you provide an email address. Have no fear. That address is not visible publicly, but we need to have it so the elves can contact you. At the end of each day–10 PM EST–we’ll put the names for that day in a hat/bowl/empty aquarium/old boot/ secret jewelry box or whatever’s handy and we’ll draw our winners.

Yes, you are free to enter other drawings throughout the 12 days if you so desire. Call me crazy, but I’m thinkin’ you’ll be doing that! 🙂 And we apologize, but you can’t sign up for specific books. We decided that would be majorly confusing and we would prefer to have fun and not perplexity. So if we draw your name third, for example, you’re matched with whatever book is numbered three on the blog list. It’s a veritable grab-bag of fun and grooviness, thus. Kind of like door prizes masquerading as books.

You’ll notice, too, that some authors are offering “Winner’s Choice.” That means YOU, the winner, get to choose a title by that author that you’d like. And also, remember, two of these drawings are on a weekend. So check in and get signed up! YEAH! All rightie! BEHOLD! The list of authors who have so graciously and generously donated books to help us celebrate the holiday season here at Women and Words! Is it not what I have been promising? Was I not correct in telling you of the sheer unbelievable giddiness such a thing would evoke right to the soles of your happy feet? I think so!

Featured Bold Strokes Books authors:

  • Clifford Henderson: Spanking New
  • Gill McKnight: Ambereye 
  • CP Rowlands: Lake Effect Snow
  • Jove Belle: Indelible & Edge of Darkness 
  • Colette Moody: The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin 
  • Bobbi Marolt: Between the Lines
  • Ali Vali: Devil Be Damned 
  • Cate Culpepper: River Walker
  • Catherine Friend: A Pirate’s Heart
  • VK Powell: Winner’s Choice
  • Rachel Spangler: Long Way Home
  • Carsen Taite: It Should Be a Crime 
  • JLee Meyer: High Risk
  • Lee Lynch: Winner’s Choice from Beggar of Love, The Swashbuckler, or That Old Studebaker 
  • Kristin Marra: Wind & Bones
  • Anne Laughlin: Veritas
  • JM Redmann: Water Mark
  • Radclyffe: Winner’s Choice – Rad is giving away four books! Winner’s choice, including The Midnight Hunt by her alter-ego L.L. Raand.

Special thanks to all the authors who contibuted and good luck to all those who enter!


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