Archive for June, 2011

The Amazon Trail

Lee Lynch  POB 1675  Valrico
FL 33595  greenhat66@gmail.com

Gay
Gumption

I thought it was all about the wedding, but boy, was I wrong. As they say, a
wedding is tying the knot. You sign papers, make public vows, and accept the
support of friends and family. You also tell your spouse that this is forever.
And ever. And ever.
Once upon a time, there was nothing to signify a gay joining but a bedroom and
an overstuffed VW hauling furniture, the stereo and a cat in a carrier. All too
often, a few months or years went by and the VW would head off in another
direction, plus or minus a cat. But that didn’t always happen. You just didn’t
hear much about the knots that stayed tied.
Recently, my sweetheart and I were invited to help celebrate the 25th
anniversary of a couple who didn’t have the advantage of a formal knot-tying
ceremony. They fell in love in high school and had nothing but their love to
keep them together. It couldn’t have been easy. Certainly my early
relationships succumbed to the wrath of the closet, which could scar one with a
habit of easy dishonesty, especially within oneself.  If you’re not honest
with yourself, how can you be with your partner? You end up stumbling around
inside a house with no foundation, in a maze of lies and denial that make it
impossible to sustain a relationship.
These days, I know of so many couples who stayed together till death did them
part, and I know more who have hit the 25 mark, the 35 mark, 40 years and
beyond. By the time I was 40, I’d learned how to stay, but back in my twenties
and thirties, I only knew how to unravel the rope, never mind tie a lasting
knot. And even at 40, I didn’t know enough to make good choices. That took
another 20 years. How did these long-lasting couples who’ve come out since
Stonewall know who to choose and how to make it work?
Our 25th anniversary friends had no guides. Those of us who came
before sure didn’t set a good example. I think this couple must have had
gumption, hard-headed determination and respect for themselves, for each other
and for their non-anointed marriage.
Not that we didn’t have gumption before 1969. We had it all right, but most of
us used it all up fighting the wrong fights. We fought ourselves because we’d
been told we were demons. We had trouble respecting our unions. How could I
think well of my partner if she chose a demon like me? How could I trust a
relationship between demons? How could I even want it, much less confidently
promise forever? It was always easier to get in the weighted down VW and move
on than to face my own demons.
Then, suddenly, the Stonewall riots, which scared me because I believed that
shining a light on gay people was dangerous. Those rioters flipped on the whole
circuit breaker.  Closets melted in the heat of the lights. A glimmer of
self-respect shone into our souls. At the same time, teenagers in small town
America were falling in love and looking at the marching gay people on T.V. and
understanding they were not the only ones, that they were not demons, that they
were people of great value.
It still wasn’t easy for our friends, because they loved in a world that
continued to demonize people like them. It was dangerous outside each other’s
arms, but they didn’t drown their fears in liquor, or sabotage their tie by
moving away. They never found gay books until 2003, but they played sports and
got good jobs and stayed together and saved money and bought a home with a good foundation.  For their first dozen years they were so closeted they had no gay friends. Finally, a friend at work came out to them and they had another couple who could share the special moments in their lives. They announced at the celebration that they made it this long partly because of that friendship.
My sweetheart and I drove 25 hours round trip to witness their accomplishment.
Relatively new ourselves, it was important. In the large convivial room there
was a glow of accomplishment. The couples’ two families were there as were work
friends and team buddies. I imagined, afterward, the heart-rending moments of
rejection and eventual acceptance that made this day possible.  This
couple, whose gumption surely must have wavered now and then, gifted all of us
by bringing us together to toast their example and their achievement.
See, their smiles seemed to say, there’s no demons in this room. Not in us, not
in you. They can’t untie this knot.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2011

6/11

An Interview with Karen Wolfer of Dog Ear Audio

by Clifford Henderson

Hey gang, June is audio book month! So I thought I’d take
a time out from my usual musing and interview one of my favorite women in the
business. Don’t know if you know this, but Dog Ear Audio, a company devoted to
put lesbian novels in the audio book market, produced the audio book of my
novel, “The Middle of Somewhere.” I narrated myself. It was a fun process and
turned out a great product. They’ve also produced novels by Bold Strokes
authors, K.I. Thompson, Catherine Friend, Kim Baldwin, and, you guessed it,
Radclyffe. What are they up to now? Read on.

Me: Why audio books?

Karen: Well, Cliffi, I’ve been a fan of lesbian fiction
for many, many years.  No need to go into exactly how many, but
with putting a lot of miles on my truck because of where I live and my job as a
solar installer, I was looking for something other than the radio to listen to
while on the road.  I searched on line for lesbian audio books, and could
not find any.

About the same time, my partner was building a soundbooth
for her video production company.

In one of those lightbulb moments, I realized this
professionally engineered soundbooth could be used for more than just
voice-over work.  Maybe we could record some of these books and fill a
niche that was not being given attention to.  Since then, I think my
partner has gotten in to use her own soundbooth twice for video work.  The
book recordings have kind of taken over.

Me: What projects are you working on
now?

Karen: We just released our latest book, “Breaking
the Ice” written and narrated by Kim Baldwin, 
which is set in
Alaska.  When possible, we look, and listen, for authors who may have the
voice acting skills to record their own books.  I believe they know best
how they want a particular character to sound, where to place the inflection on
dialog, and what overall feeling they want a listener to take away with them
from the story.  The written word is fantastic in telling a story,
but hearing a story brings with it an entire new set of emotions and
connectivity between an author and their audience.

Audio books connect on such a personal level.  It is
one human relating to another human through the spoken word; the oldest form of
storytelling there is.  Emotions are shared on so many
levels—excitement, anger, love—are all enhanced hearing a human voice
give life to those feelings.  Even a silent pause, in the right place,
can convey more about what is happening in a scene than many, many words
can.

“The Middle of Somewhere”, written and narrated
by a very talented woman, is a prime example of how hearing an author bring the
accents of a local population to life, greatly enhances the
story.  Whether it is the shady characteristics of one person,
or the adorable crush one character has for another, those human traits
are instantly captured in the tone of a skilled narrator.

Me: What projects do you see happening
in the future?

Karen: We have three more titles waiting impatiently on
our computers for editing.  By this, I mean sound editing, where we clean
up any extraneous noises that may have shown up, splice in re-takes, and then
go through an exhaustive listening process so we can correct anything else we may
have missed on the first go-round. All of our books are unabridged.

We recently signed an agreement with a download
distributor who will be getting us into the larger, mainstream distribution
networks like Audible.com, eMusic, Simply Audiobooks, Spoken Network, and
more.

I’ve always wanted to have our audiobooks
available in libraries across the country, so we will be taking a short
hiatus in recording additional titles, in order to establish those
connections with libraries. Having these wonderful stories available to
everyone is one of our goals.

Some women have sight problems, so we want to spend more
time letting them know we are here and that lesbian literature can be still
enjoyed even if the printed word does not work for them.

Me: Tell us a bit out your solar operation and why this
is important.

Karen: For the past 17 years, I have been a solar
(photovoltaic) installer for remote, off-grid homes. Our own home, including
all our computers, and especially the coffemaker, are powered with energy
captured from the sun.  Because our sound files are so precious, we trust
the reliability of our own power over anything that could come from the
grid.  It is better, cleaner energy.

We live in such an amazingly beautiful state, with
those legendary cobalt blue skies, that we like to keep our carbon-footprint as
small as possible.

This summer I hope to make some renewable energy videos
to help educate folks on what solar energy can do, and then maybe my partner
can finally get to use her own soundbooth.

After that,
we will continue to produce lesbian audio books from www.dogearaudio.com,
for all who want to enjoy a good story while driving, walking, or just doing
the dishes.

Animated Book Trailer for Sword of the Guardian

I just finished an animated book trailer for Sword of the Guardian that I thought I’d share with everyone!

I had a lot of fun making this – looking forward to putting one together for Branded Ann next! For anyone who’s curious, the trailer was made with the free Daz 3D Studio program, Windows Movie Maker, and a bunch of good ol’ Photoshopping.

As always, lots more information about my books at my website, MerryShannon.com.

Better Living through Imaginary Payback

By Colette Moody

Follow me down this winding path for a moment.

It’s been theorized that the main psychological difference between men and women is that men are much more likely to exhibit physically aggressive behavior. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to internalize their aggression and harbor some deep-rooted, twisted, potentially borderline psychotic shit.

Is it because society forces us into gender-based kitty cat-shaped cut-outs from birth? That boys are encouraged to resolve their conflicts with their fists, while girls are taught to “get along,” be demure, and view all peers as their competitors?

That would certainly explain the prevalence of cattiness and nefarious double-dealing that I’ve borne witness to in the workplace over the years. In my experience, men seem more likely to say or do something completely inappropriate, and though they may deny it, they enjoy gossip just as much as their female co-workers do—perhaps more. But when it comes down to real hardcore sabotage, males have been sadly lacking in the premeditated treachery department. Again, this is just my own anecdotal assessment based on the gender of anyone I’ve ever worked with who has:

  • Thrown me under the bus
  • Lied to me
  • Asked me to lie for them
  • Stolen from the company and then tried to frame someone else for it
  • Been sickeningly sweet to my face, only to trash me as soon as I stepped away

Don’t get me wrong. I love women—more than many hate groups say I should, in fact. I just don’t love all women. And as someone who tallies myself in both the feminist and lesbian columns, it’s particularly disappointing and dispiriting each time I watch another female colleague do or say something utterly contemptible. Because I feel like they’re just perpetuating a stereotype that women are mean.

Since our society doesn’t encourage us to be open and physical with our negative feelings (but get out of the way if it ever happens! “Catfight! Meow!”), we learn how to push those hostile feelings down and smile through them—a form of deception in and of itself. And even though I’m conscious of this practice and have pondered it to some extent, I still feel myself doing it. Because really, what’s an acceptable alternative?

“You know Joanne, your smug superior attitude makes me want to beat you repeatedly about the head and shoulders with a rake.”

How do you think that would fly? Don’t you think regardless of what’s said after that candid little gem that it will likely end with me being escorted by building security to my car, whilst toting my personal items in a cardboard box?

Now, those of you who have seen my Facebook posts know that I have, from time to time, had a status that conveys a certain level of frustration with my boss. Sure, there was the time I want to pummel her with my shoe until she wept. And I willingly own that dark thought… because honestly, I feel that way about her at least once a week. But that’s beside the point.

Something I’ve found as I’ve been writing is that it can be truly cathartic for me to channel some of these abyssal and unspeakable emotions into a scene of some kind. Trust me; I’ve done it quite a bit. I wrote a pirate novel where people got daggers to the gullet. Don’t think that wasn’t something right out of my id.

Is someone upsetting you? Create a character that somehow resembles them and have them meet some unspeakable fate. I know what you’re wondering. Just how unspeakable should it be?

Understand that there’s an algorithm of woe that should be used when determining exactly what horror should befall someone. In real life, I wouldn’t want anything to happen to my boss worse than no one holding the elevator for her… or perhaps being fired for incompetence. We’ll use the following karmic equation.

(Level of your frustration x the frequency of their vexation) +8 = your victim’s fictional calamity

Let’s see an example, shall we?

Suppose your neighbor is a cantankerous shrew who regularly spies on you through her blinds with binoculars, and at least once a month, calls the police to complain that your car encroaches on her property—even when it’s parked in your driveway. As a variable, let’s add that her septic tank has backed up and your yard is now filled with her feces.

So the level of your frustration in this case would be significant—maybe a 9 on a scale of 10. And she’s vexing you regularly—we’ll say at least twice a week. Add 8 and you get a character who meets an untimely demise by falling into a large industrial vat of cleaning products, or perhaps gets a flaming pike through her eye socket. And depending on your genre, you can adapt your atrocity accordingly. If it’s speculative fiction, she might have her spine removed by an angry stone golem. Likewise, she could by flayed alive by ghouls, or devoured by wolves, mutant crabs, and/or zombies. Win-win!

That guy who cut you off in traffic this morning? Plug him into our equation and he can become a cheating riverboat gambler who gets a knife through his palm, or an escaped convict who unintentionally leaves his testicles behind on a barbed-wire fence.

Someone in the express lane of the grocery store with too many items? Write about him losing a few toes to gangrene. Life being complicated by your ex? Work her into a story where she’s incinerated by lightning, or possibly turned into a desiccated husk by a giant mutant insect.

So yes, I’m aware that there’s more than likely something irreparably wrong with me. I own that too. But I sleep very well at night. The cleansing power of imaginary payback makes everything right for me.

Cutting to the Bore

by Kristin Marra

I have a masochistic love for Victorian novels. Those wordy, heavy weight tomes where the authors commit all the literary sins that modern writers dare not commit. Those old timey novelists had the chutzpah to preach to the reader. Victorian novelists also reveled in compound complex sentences
that threw more information at the reader than today’s entire paragraphs are
allowed to supply. One has to slow down to read Victorian sentences, chew on
each clause, parse out the double entendres, and then put it all back together
to get one complete thought. Punctuation binges from those verbose writers
would never be allowed by today’s style exacting editors; worse, Victorian
writers generously indulged in (gasp) parentheses.  Check out this example from David Copperfield by my beloved Charles Dickens:

I even walk, on two or
three occasions, in a sickly, spoony manner, round and round the house after
the family are gone to bed, wondering which is the eldest Miss Larkin’s chamber
(and pitching, I dare say now, on Mr. Larkins’s instead); wishing that a fire
would burst out; that the assembled crowd would stand appalled; that I, dashing
through them with a ladder, might rear it against her window, save her in my
arms, go back for something she had left behind, and perish in the flames.

 

One sentence. And it isn’t even the entire paragraph. All
that information crammed into all those clauses which the intrepid reader has
to distill down to the simple idea that the narrator’s crush on Miss Larkin causes
insomnia and instills fantasies of him proving his love through martyrdom. Wow.

Those kinds of sentences were the norm for 19th
Century writers. How did they get away with it? Were they just plain smarter
than we of the 21st Century? And how, oh how, did they do it in long
hand? It’s that long hand question that explains it all. They couldn’t edit.
They didn’t have computers or even typewriters. They couldn’t “cut out the
boring parts.” Cutting out the boring parts is the mantra of the contemporary novelist.
God forbid a writer should have one sentence, even one clause that might make
the reader restless. But who’s to say what’s boring and what’s riveting?

I especially struggled with this concept when writing 78 Keys. Initially, it was written from
two points of view (one was first person, the other was third person), from the
two romantic leads. My partner complained. My editor complained. One of my beta
readers complained. However three other beta readers liked the two perspectives
of one story. I did too. I felt it made for a multi-layered plot. I also knew I
didn’t yet have the writing chops to carry it off successfully. I was boring or
confusing half the initial readers. That was a large enough percentage to
convince me to do what my excellent editor wanted: I eliminated one point of
view and wrote the whole story in first person. It’s now the story of Devorah
Rosten, a neurotic, hypochondriac tarot reader who is charged with saving the
world. And, of course, in the process, she falls in love.

Having honed my reading skills on Victorian novelists, my
writing style in 78 Keys struggled
with sentence length. I can get clausy and wordy. I often wanted to insert
parentheses to give an aside comment, but I avoided it altogether. Most of all,
I had to fight with the urge to preach to my readers. 78 Keys makes some fairly large statements about politics, religion
and the nature of existence. Frankly, it was cheeky of me to write it
considering the human questions the book grapples with. But I couldn’t resist.
I have the soul and nature of an opinionated Victorian writer. I’m old enough
and settled enough with who I am to understand that most people aren’t into the
lessons on human nature offered in such magnificent tomes as Middlemarch. A normal person doesn’t
have the time or inclination to dig for the truth in long pedantic sentences
filled with asides. Why should they when contemporary writers offer the same
insights in shorter, direct sentences with all the boring parts cut away?

My guess is, though, is that today’s novelists would be
writing those pernicious compound complex sentences if long hand were our only
method of writing. It’s easy to eliminate the boring bits when the ability to
cut is instantaneous and at our fingertips. If I had written 78 Keys in long hand, you, dear reader,
would be reading it from two points of view, one first person and the other
third person. And you’d be longing for a day when someone invents a way for
writers to highlight then press delete.

Reluctant Hope

How strong is the human will to survive? Can surrendering gracefully to an
inevitable end, be just as admirable as fighting valiantly to one’s dying
breath?

 

These are themes I explored in my next novel, Reluctant
Hope
.
In this story, I examined the very different ways that people deal
with cancer, either their own or that of a loved one. One of my protagonists,
Addison Hunt, has survived breast cancer and, though still touched by her past,
she has moved on to life after her illness. On the other hand, Brooke Donahue’s
pain is fresh, having just lost her best friend. She’s angry on many levels and
running from her overwhelming grief.

Writing this story was an emotional journey for me. At first, because I strove to put
myself close to these two women—to their moments of grief and pain, as well as
their moments of triumph and acceptance. I wanted to honor the strength and
bravery with which women like Addison and Brooke face their incredible
challenges.

Two months ago, the themes of this book became even more personal for me as my
family struggled with many of the same questions. My aunt had been ill for some
time, but continued fighting to get better. But then, the doctors said they’d
done all they could, and hospice was brought in to help.

Her passing left a hole in our family where once was a strong, funny, compassionate woman. Watching my large family deal with the process of losing her, showed me the varied way that people deal with such difficult circumstances. It also raised a number of questions for me—about my own journey with my amazing partner and about how I want to prepare for the unexpected that may lie ahead.

On a larger scale, I was left examining my own views about the will to fight even
in the face of dire odds, and painful illness. What kind of reserve must
someone dig into to find that kind of strength? Can there be grace in letting
go? And will I have the courage to make that decision should I ever reach a
point in my life where it is necessary?

I did the final read-through of Reluctant Hope in the days following my aunt’s death. This time, Addison and Brooke’s story took on an even deeper, more profound meaning for me. I can’t wait to put this book into the hands of my readers. I hope that it can do as it has for me—provoke thought, heal wounds, and, at the very least, provide a heart-warming romance.

Email:
erin@erindutton.com

www.erindutton.com


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 622 other followers


%d bloggers like this: