Archive for February, 2013

Are books of sex and horror (like mine) at the root of society’s ills?

BY DANIEL W. KELLY

In the 1940s and 1950s, two of my favorite subjects came under attack when comics like Tales from the Crypt were accused of creating evil children (the only kind I like), promoting lustful thoughts (a most welcome headache), and even leading to illiteracy (damn reading material!). In the decades that followed, violence and sex only escalated in popular entertainment. So today, with the death toll rising, finger pointing continues. Too many guns. Violent video games are to blame. The responsibility lies solely on the shoulders of Quentin Tarantino. What shocks me most about all this is that many people hoping to shift the focus off their guns are throwing their favorite video games like Grand Theft Auto and television shows like The Sopranos under the bus!

Then we have panic about the sexual threats of Jersey Shore, Glee, and Lady Gaga turning our youth into horny monsters, causing those who are perfectly straight to bend and go gay. So how do soccer moms explain the copy of 50 Shades of Grey on the nightstand to their children? Justify it as positive reinforcement to ensure the raising of horny heterosexual monsters, perhaps? Hey concerned moms. If you want to get off on the fear of actual horny homo monsters, check out my books. Very satisfying.

The bastardizing of media makes me wonder what effect erotic horror novels such as my book Combustion could have on society. Of course, CombustionCombustion 300 DPI is not being marketed to teenagers. If it were, it would probably sell a lot more copies. Let’s face it. Kids are into that stuff. I was. And look at the horrible effect it had on my young, impressionable mind; it made me…a writer.

What went wrong with me? Why aren’t I a menace to society? I spent my youth reading Stephen King and watching pretty young things get hacked, slashed, and disemboweled. All it managed to do was make me very careful to avoid masked men with machetes (masked men with paddles are a different story). Despite watching Steve Austin get shot in his bionic arm and merely blow a fuse and witnessing Michael Myers take six bullets at close range and walk away unscathed, I feared guns could kill. That worry was cemented in 1984 when my young gay crush, model/actor Jon-Erik Hexum, accidentally killed himself with a gun loaded with blanks.

I didn’t even comprehend the depths of my aversion to guns until a friend brought his BB gun to my house for a Halloween horror movie marathon—because, you know, it was a crucial part of his costume. I was assured that it wasn’t loaded. But during one of my obsessive rounds of cleaning up after everyone, I saw the gun sitting unattended on the armrest of my easy chair, pointing directly at one of my oblivious dogs, who believed he was curled up on his safe spot. I nearly pissed myself. Mom always said, don’t point guns in the house. I demanded the BB gun be removed from the vicinity. I don’t care if people own them, I just don’t want them near my beloved babies Sheffield and Miss Fine!

As for the sexual influences that messed up my young life, truth is, I had cable TV in my bedroom! The sex and nudity in teen comedies and slashers focused on women. Wasn’t feeling it. But I did figure out the exact amount of minutes into The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas when the hunky guys sing naked in the shower. So I would set my clock for that scene every time it played on HBO. And boy, was I feeling it. By the time I was 18, I was working at a video store and had free porn at my disposal, much like lucky little bastards do on the internet today. You don’t know what that filth did to my sexual development. I lost my virginity six yeas later and have been with the same dick ever since.

And of course, I now write books about vicious monsters and sex-hungry men. As I continue developing the stories following Combustion, I’ve noticed that guns are rarely if ever used by the characters. Even main man Deck Waxer, detective turned paranormal investigator, wishes he still had his gun when in danger, but knows it wouldn’t be of much use. If I learned one good lesson from all that horror at a young age, it’s that guns only kill people, not monsters. So some of my men are equipped with psychic powers to take on the evil. Others have dicks so big they don’t need guns to prove prowess. And the men with small dicks and no psychic powers? They just go play with the guys with the big dicks and hide behind the guys with psychic powers. Yeah, that’s what they’re doing back there.

Maybe there’s a fine line between being exposed and being predisposed that determines if we turn out human or inhumane. I’m naturally attracted to men and dislike acts of violence, and learned to get an adrenaline rush from both through fantasy and imagination. I’ve always read horror. I watch hardcore porn. I play violent video games, as long as the only things I’m shooting are zombies and demons that ooze green blood. And I write sex and horror. However, like most people who enjoy the same crazy books, movies, and video games I do, I fear the consequences of extreme fictional situations in reality. Do we as a society really believe that those responsible for the too-frequent tragedies we’re facing didn’t have it in them before playing, say, a game of Silent Hill? If media influence is at fault, why do we read Catcher in the Rye in high school? The guy who shot John Lennon was obsessed with it!

Whatever the solution for minimizing life-stealing violence and risky sexual behavior, I hope we begin to realize that each of us just wants the same protections as everyone else, both physical and emotional. We shouldn’t waste so much energy on attacking civil liberties, emphasis on the civil. A few months ago, many of the very people who are now outraged and ready to revolt because they feel their 2nd Amendment right is being threatened were fighting to rewrite constitutions to define marriage and defending initiatives to block the ability for lifelong American citizens to vote. Call them on it, and they will give you a list of justifications for their beliefs and argue that the issues are not the same. And they’re actually correct. Marriage and voting never killed anyone. But what is the same is that no matter who you are, it’s a terrifying feeling to think that your freedom is going to be taken away from you. I get it. Believe me, I get it. And I can top it. I’ve known what it feels like to not even have the same rights and protections as most. So if you ever try to confiscate my horror novels and porn DVDs, I’ll whip out my semi-automatic neighbor with a registered gun and he’ll shoot your ass.

The Amazon Trail

Poor Me

by Lee Lynch

          My sweetheart and I are on extreme ends of the country right now, for very practical and very temporary reasons. I’m trying to keep the house clean, the animals content without their adored other person, and feed myself.

Last year I had treatments that released me from my allergy to corn products. I can go wild foraging in previously verboten aisles of the food co-op. If I so choose, I can have breakfast, lunch and dinner at McDonalds. I could eat nothing but popcorn and ice cream made of corn syrup. But without my sweetheart, I have no appetite.

She is an outstanding cook. It’s certainly not the only reason I am heartsick without her, but when she takes out her beloved mom’s recipe book and whips up Pork Chops Liegoise with gruyere cheese and Dijon mustard, or her amazing Bread Pudding recipe, redolent of cinnamon and vanilla, which appears in The Butch Cook Book, I am so happy I get all teary-eyed.

On my own it’s ramen noodles with frozen turnip greens and diced turnips (two nights ago) or matzos with butter (last night). For the first week and a half she was gone I ate a bean soup I made with the recipe on the Bob’s Red Mill dried bean package.  One night I took two pieces of two-week old rosemary sourdough we brought home from a restaurant, added cheddar cheese, stuck it in the microwave and immediately forgot it. Later, I gnawed what I could of my rock hard dinner. The next day I made an appointment with the dentist to replace the filling I broke on that bread. It was one expensive doggy bag, but the actual doggy delighted in it. I may apply for a pet food patent: “Doggy Bag Cheese Bread.”

My thrill, on this lone Valentine’s Day, consisted of an iced tea and a soft serve cone at McDonalds. I stopped there on my way home from the dentist’s office after dental emergency number two. I’d eaten muesli at breakfast – something healthy – and a crown came off.

On the other coast, my sweetheart eats prepackaged oatmeal for supper. I found a box of 50 at the restaurant supply store and send a few each week in a care package. Fifty? she’s going to say when she finds out. They come in flavors: maple and brown sugar, apple and cinnamon, cinnamon and spices and just plain oatmeal. Hmm, sounds good. Maybe I’ll have one for dinner tonight.

So food is not filling the void of Without Her, but I’m not going to starve to death. We talk on the phone at least once a day and the emails fly back and forth. Between times, when I’m not working at my job, or writing, or giving meds to the pets or seeing the dentist (three times now and another appointment coming up), she left me something to keep me company: a Kindle.

I should be one of those folks who say, it’s not the same as a book and, passionately, I love the feel of a book in my hands. Although I’m not likely to stop reading and collecting real paper books, these e-readers and tablets are the future. I don’t want to be run over in the digital stampede. There will be books and there will be electronic devices and possibly other mediums for stories. There were, after all, once no books at all, only oral tales.

My sweetheart could not have timed this gift better. After work, I settle at the kitchen table with some food-like concoction or other, and I drown out the pangs of missing her with stories from my Kindle. I avoid breaking the household bank by borrowing e-books from the library. (Confession: I did give her a great big cream-colored faux-fur throw to keep her company.)

Holding a book is comforting and satisfying until the day when you’re reading and your hands get shooting pains and your finger joints ache. For a person with arthritis, a lesbian who wants to keep her hands nimble and functional, this basic Kindle is a little miracle. Hardcover books get heavier as I grow older. Holding a paperback open with one hand makes me wonder if the arthritis comes from doing just that since childhood. Holding a lightweight e-reader is sheer pleasure.

And so, while she bravely eats her oatmeal across the continent, I fill my sweetheart-less days with work, find excitement in a Subway sandwich on Saturday nights Without Her, and plunge into the worlds where my little toy reader, light as popcorn, takes me.

 

Copyright Lee Lynch 2013

February 2013

 

 

It’s okay to fall in love with your best friend…

BY ERIN DUTTON

Or at least that’s what Evelyn Fisher tells herself in my new book, More Than Friends.More Than Friends 300 DPI Sure, things get complicated when said friend also happens to be fresh out of a relationship with her other closest friend.

 

I myself have fallen for, and subsequently ended up dating a good friend. But I’ll save that story for another time. Since the mid-February release date makes this practically a Valentine’s Day book, I’ll tell you an even more personal tale about how I met the love of my life…the love that makes all others pale in comparison…the woman who inspires the romance in me…she completes me. Did I go too far?

 

Our love story begins four years ago. At the time, my best guy friend had a habit of trying to fix me up with every available lesbian he met, with no regard for personality or actual compatibility with me. So, when he came to me and said he had someone in mind for me, I listened half-heartedly as he told me about the party he’d met her at, and how outgoing and boisterous she was. Which of course, matched up perfectly with my introverted, home-body personality. (insert sarcasm here) I was even more intrigued when he told me about how she’d ended a fifteen year relationship only a month before. Obviously, she was ready for the type of serious, long term relationship I hoped to eventually find.

 

But he badgered. I was about to go out of town for two weeks, so I agreed to meet her, in a group setting, when I returned. Who knows how things might have gone had that plan actually happened. He pestered further. He texted me one Sunday night and gave me her phone number. He suggested I call or text her so that we might begin talking while I was out of town and get to know each other a little. Now, cold calls are not remotely my thing. But for some reason, that night I sent an exploratory text—an eloquently worded introduction that she mocks to this day.

 

For the next two weeks, we communicated via text, then on the phone. This arrangement saved me some of the nervousness of early face-to-face meetings, and gave me the chance to woo her with my carefully selected words. I found her funny, easy to talk to, and a little flirty. And as she’ll readily tell you, by the time I got back in town I was half in love with her before we’d even met.

 

Our first dinner together—well, I’ll just say it—I was charming and effervescent and not at all my usual shy self. Okay, her version might be slightly different and involve what she would describe as an awkward hug at the end. But something made this amazing woman give me another chance. Which allowed me to discover that we were compatible after all. While she can often be the life of the party, she’s just as happy spending a quiet evening in. She challenges me and comforts me. She makes me laugh. Her smile still makes me warm all over and every kiss still makes me tingle. I guess that friend knew what he was doing after all…because as it turns out, I found not only a great love, but a new best friend.

Pale Wings Protecting and Other News…

by Lesley Davis

While writing “Dark Wings Descending” Dark Wings Descending 300 DPIits spin off was already making itself known to me and asking to be written at exactly the same time. Being the kind of writer that has enough trouble keeping my concentration on one story as it is, (thanks to my M.E. and the endless distraction afforded me by my love of gaming), I had to put aside the follow up and keep my attention firmly fixed on the demon infested world that Private Investigator Ashley Scott and Detective Rafe Douglas inhabited. But Special Agent Blythe Kent made her appearance in that story as a teaser and to make sure I didn’t forget that her story would be next.

“Pale Wings Protecting” Pale Wings Protection 300 DPIwill continue in the same kind of supernatural theme but I wanted the setting to be a little lighter. So, what could be more fun than two law enforcement types going undercover together, having to pretend to be lovers, all while they try to solve a case involving the kidnapping of children? Okay, so the fun isn’t in the actual kidnapping bit, but I loved the idea of two women working together to portray lovers and not being able to reveal their real identities. Blythe gets to work with Detective Daryl Chandler, the kind of cop who looks and acts like a cop no matter what she does. Can they convince their new neighbours that they are in fact a totally devoted couple, one that wants a baby desperately, while they investigate the suburbs they find themselves suddenly living in? And then there’s the supernatural element, but I’ll leave that for you all to discover for yourselves! And don’t think Rafe and Ashley didn’t think it was only fair they got to cross over into Blythe’s story too. The gang’s all here to investigate the goings on in the disgustingly rich neighbourhood of Cranston Heights.

When I received the cover for this story I was thrilled to pieces to see how striking it was. It’s the perfect accompaniment to “Dark Wings Descending”. I hope all who see this cover will want to read the story inside and will enjoy it once they do. It’s scheduled for release 2014 from Bold Strokes Books so keep an eye on their web site and mine for further details. The time will fly past, honest!!

I am currently working on a new story. Sometimes certain characters are VERY insistent that they have more of their story to tell and, as a writer, you just have to listen to them! (Otherwise you’ll get nothing else written!) So for those who enjoyed “Playing Passion’s Game” BSB_Playing_Passions_Game_3dsyou can expect to see Trent and Juliet and their merry clan of gamers return. The main story, however, will centre around two new characters, one of which will be Mrs. Tweedy’s granddaughter. This is a work in progress though and any delays due to my playing on my games consoles will be classed as ‘research’. That is to purely make sure the gaming side is authentic, of course! Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! I’m enjoying being back with Trent, she’s been a character I got a large amount of feedback on, all wanting to see what happens next now that a certain room in her home has been designated  for something other than a spare room!

Just before this blog went to print I received the new date of release for “Pale Wings Protecting”. It’s scheduled for publication 14th October 2013 so there’s only eight months to go!

Be sure to come and check out my website at http://www.lesleydavisauthor.co.uk

Marriage: 4th Time the Charm

By

Eric Andrews-Katz

 

December 06th, 2012 was a monumental day in history for Washington State. It was the first day that GLBT couples could legally apply (and obtain) a marriage license. The lines at Seattle’s courthouse formed early and by Noon had reached several hours’ wait. But no one minded. Not the media recording the event, nor the well-wishers that came to witness their friends’ nuptials. A river of beaming faces waited in line for their licenses to commit within the next 60 days, holy (or unholy) matrimony. Or so that’s how the pictures looked. I wasn’t there. While we were thrilled about the law changing (by an incredibly close margin!) my partner of almost 13 years and I decided to sleep in.

The bombardment came the next day. “When are you guys getting married?” This question came as quite a surprise to us. We’ve been married. We’ve been married three times over. Among our circle of friends it would be hard pressed to find another couple that is as married as we are, for as long as we’ve been together. Our relationship has outlasted all heterosexual marriages of our generation in either family; in most cases, several of them combined. Our surnames have been legally changed. We have a mortgage together. Our living testaments are secured, and we’ve adopted two cats that we’ve made previsions for in case of our untimely deaths. We have our conjoined bank accounts, and a set TV schedule for the DVR. Really, what else is left to do? I guess now we have the obligation to make them legally legitimate cats instead of being furry bastards of shame.

Our first wedding was called a “Commitment Ceremony” because of the tightly held heterosexual possession of the word marriage. After three years of being together Alan got down on one knee and proposed, making us officially ‘enGAYed’. Since gay weddings were a relatively new concept in 2003 (to most of our friends and definitely to our families) we were spared the stereotypical deluge of advice on how to do everything, and we were able to have our day the way we wanted. It was catered, a DJ was present, and in front of over 95 of our closest family and friends, we said our vows pledging love and devotion. It’s the day we consider to be our official anniversary and thus far, is the best day of my life. While we were semi-traditional in almost every part of the ceremony, privately my partner Alan and I agreed on the rules: I don’t believe in divorce – I believe in widowhood. After all, traditional marriage values should always be upheld even in an illegal commitment ceremony.

Our next wedding was exciting for us. It was a real marriage in the sense that it was legally recognized; at least by the Canadian government and any other country recognizing Canadian laws; except of course for our own. On the 4th anniversary of our meeting, which happens to be six months to the day after our Commitment Ceremony, we got in the car with our two ‘best men’ and drove to Vancouver, BC. We stood before a Marriage Broker, said the updated vows we wrote, and were pronounced Husband and Husband by the great country of Canada.

They say that a piece of paper doesn’t make a difference in relationships. They are wrong. There is something about it that creates a new feeling, a new way of looking at your relationship, and a new definition of commitment. Seeing that tiny set of red numbers listing my marriage certificate among the millions of others; the bold letter-heading that undeniably states Certificate of Marriage, and the signature of the Chief Executive Officer of the Vital Statistic Agency, somehow gives me a completely different sense of pride every time I see it framed on our wall. It’s the kind of pride that only 67,348,152 previous heterosexual/homosexual couples in Vancouver can say they’ve experienced. And if you’re not among the list, then you just don’t get it.

They say the third time is the charm, but for me it was the least significant. In 2007 Washington State passed the “Everything But Marriage” law that gave GLBT couples the title (without using the word marriage) and with (most of) the same rights as our heterosexual counterparts. I couldn’t help but think of Ben Franklin’s saying: Giving the title without all the rights is “like calling an ox a bull. He’s thankful for the honor, but he’d much rather have restored what’s rightfully his”. I had visions of segregated bathroom signs with “Married” written on one, and “Everything But” written on the other. I don’t relish being counted among a group titled, “Everything But”. It just doesn’t sound right for a gay male relationship.

I came home from work that night expecting to have dinner with my partner (now of seven years) and two of our friends. When I walked through the door they turned as one – like children of the corn – with wide eyes and grinning smiles. “Hey Honey,” Alan enthusiastically said. “Let’s go get Domestic Partnered! Right now! They’ll do the paperwork, register it with the county, and waive all fees if we do it before the week-end.” And within minutes we were driving down to City Hall. We sat before an official. He checked our identification and presented the paper for us to sign. That was it. No bells. No whistles. No stepping on a wine glass. I’ve now married Alan three times. Three times to the same person! That should attest to something! Remember, Liz only married Dick twice (insert obvious joke here).

“You’ll get your official Domestic Partner registration cards in the mail within a month.”

An official registration card? This must be one of the non-equal rights covered under “Everything But”. I’ve never heard of a Heterosexual marriage registration card. Would they have to show it to gain access to their partner’s hospital room, as I am allegedly required to do? And of course those rights can be denied depending on in which state any given situation may happen. Does the bar code tattoo on my neck come next, or a simple chip inserted so that a governmental GPS can keep track of my relationship? Oh my God! This means I’m an official card-carrying homosexual! But at least now I’m one in a semi-legally recognized, committed relationship – but only in a few other states outside Washington. I look forward to using all of the membership privileges the cards entitle me, but only in the assigned states that uphold its validity. With all the limits and restrictions, it’s beginning to remind me of the Discover card; it’s nice to have but in all honesty, what good is it?

One thing did change after this wedding. It was a subtle change and I can’t say that I was really aware of it happening for several weeks. The word “husband” was creeping into my vocabulary more frequently as a title for Alan. I found myself saying it more frequently with ease than to just make a political point of reference. It’s comforting. While I alternate between ‘husband’ and ‘partner’, they have become interchangeable for me to say. More surprising is the reaction I get when I say it; most don’t blink an eye, not even the straight people.

Then came the results of election night 2012. Obama was reelected President, and both gay marriage and marijuana became legal in Washington state. Maybe they’re not related. I’m just saying maybe it’s not a coincidence either. My cousin called to say, “Congratulations! Now you gay guys can suffer through marriage with the rest of us! Heh Heh!” My reply was simple: “Doesn’t that say a lot about you and your wife!” Not so surprising they’re now divorced.

All registered Domestic Partnerships will convert to marriage in 2014 unless another marriage is performed by the state. After viewing the weeklong lines at the courthouse, my heart was full of joy and I finally succumbed. This time it was different; I proposed to Alan. I sent him an electronic proposal on Facebook. He ‘liked’ it, so I guess it was a yes.

Neither of us could say when the third marriage, our Domestic Partnership happened without checking our cards, or putting the barcode reader to our necks. We decided that we didn’t need a fourth date to remember; and so planned to consolidate as many events on one date. We will be celebrating 13 years of being together, 9.5 years of our American Ceremony, 9 Years of our Canadian Marriage, and the beginning of our Washington State recognized Marriage – all on the same day. Priceless.

Since the demand for marriage licenses increased so much, the Seattle courthouse moved the registration to a lower office. One has to move through a maze of descending hallways in order to get there. After the third one, I turned to Alan and whispered, “If I see shower heads at the end of this, I’m outta here!” My fears were ill founded and we entered the office. Once proven that we hadn’t married before (the previous ceremonies didn’t count? Does that mean I can get my money back?), we paid the registration fee and were told we had 60 days until the certificate expired. “Good luck,” and we were on our way.

Instead of sending our announcements, we put up a notice on Facebook. “To our friends/family. We are getting married again. It’s going to be on Monday afternoon at 5 PM, at the Shoreline courthouse. All wanting to attend are welcome. We’re going out for Thai food after.”

The comments began to appear almost immediately. The first one said: “That’s funny. I already think of you guys as being married.” The next was, “Does this mean we have to get you another gift?” The third said, “Congratulations…Again!” And so they alternated until one comment appeared further down the feed: “Thank God! Now we can stop referring to you as the Slutty Man Whores around the dinner table to the kids!” I sent a note saying that although not expected, nightshirts that actually say “Slutty Man Whore” would make for another reason to smile when climbing into bed at night.

How do you write vows for a relationship that you’ve been involved in for over 13 years? Do we really need to vocalize yet again our love and devotion for one another? Hasn’t three separate ceremonies shown that already? Not that I want to tempt fate, but I can’t foresee either of us packing up and leaving for any reasons. Our vows should reflect on the importance of our relationship now, the true and realistic devotional pledges.

“I promise to let you watch The Walking Dead in quiet.”

“I promise to pretend I’m listening with a smile when you repeat the same story for the 30th time.”

“I promise not to mock you when you play Angry Birds on your iPhone while we’re talking.”

“I promise to pretend to believe you when you blame the cat for that mysterious smell.”

Those are the realities of life. Those are the promises worth keeping, and they are all bound to bite me in the ass sometime in the future. But if anyone can overlook them for such an extended period of time, that’s the definition of a soul mate. And if it finally takes a piece of paper signed by the glorious state of Washington to provide an undisclosed sense of security or legitimacy, then so be it. The paper carries power. It does make the difference. It was worth the wait and all three previous ceremonies to finally get my state’s legal recognition.

I look forward to renewing my vows and committing for at least another 13 years, hopefully many more. Maybe then it’ll be recognized on a federal level and we’ll have to plan wedding number five.

I wonder if I’ll cry.

I’m Out and I’m Proud: Sweet wines and passion

By D. Jackson Leigh

I refuse to stay in the closet. Not the gay one. I came out of that closet years ago.

I’m talking about the lesbian fiction closet. I’m talking about romance. I’m talking about books that some people curl their lip and call “pulp fiction” like it’s a dirty word because they are afraid of passion. They are afraid to admit their baser need for pure pleasure.

I openly confess that I love sweet wines. It isn’t because they’re cheap. It’s because I don’t like the taste of expensive, dry, bitter wines.

Go ahead. I can see you connoisseurs shaking your heads.

Likewise, I love lesbian romance stories. It can be fantasy, scifi, adventure, intrigue, cops and robbers, mystery, or a simple girl-meets-girl. I want a story that makes me feel something. I want to laugh, and maybe cry and, in the end, heave a satisfied sigh. If there’s a romance and a happy ending in it, I’ll read it. That’s why I also write it.

I find that confessing gets easier as I grow older, because I care less and less how other people judge my palate for wines or reading.

I was reflecting on this after a recent Sunday in which I attended two local lesbian book clubs in the same day. I had tried a one of the clubs more than a year ago and thought the experience had cured me.

I went, expecting to meet enthusiastic readers like the ones who come to P-Town for Women’s Week or attend events like Bold Strokes Books’ Lesfic Festival in Palm Springs, the Golden Crown Literary Society Annual Conference and the LoneStar Lesfic Festival in Austin—just to name a few.

I love those events because writers and readers can talk excitedly for hours about lesbian fiction. It’s like living in the closet and then going to P-Town or Key West and finally being able to hold hands in public.

But back to the book club. There was a bare handful of women, half of whom hadn’t read their selection of the month because they really weren’t interested rehashing the subject of religion and the gay community. We struggled for discussion for about thirty minutes before we began to make polite excuses to escape.

So who selected that book? Nobody would admit to it. I offered to suggest a list of titles people may actually enjoy reading and discussing. The one person who had read the book all the way through, gave me a challenging stare and informed me that I could email the moderator of the group who hadn’t bothered to attend herself for the past several months. I did email her. She never replied. I didn’t go back.

That was until recently, when I decided to give it one more try at a different book club.

The subject was again nonfiction, a book that the group decided was likely an academic paper on the history of heterosexuality (not sure why that subject was relevant to a lesbian book club) which the author had attempted to rewrite for general consumption. It was a struggle to get through the first chapters and subsequent chapters were tediously repetitive, several women said.

I wasn’t the only one who either didn’t read it or didn’t finish it, but because the moderator was well prepared, we did manage an interesting discussion on trends in human sexuality. I found that useful because my next project will be set in the future, and I realized that when I begin building my setting, I’ll need to consider how sexuality may have evolved. I was slightly encouraged by this one positive thing I gained, so when the moderator said she was planning to attend the other book club—the one from my bad experience—later that same day, I decided to give them a second chance.

The afternoon club was reading Jane Lynch’s “Happy Accidents.” Since I had to drive back to Raleigh (where I live and the second club met) and put in some time at the gym, I downloaded the audio version into my phone and listened for the next two hours.

The group had a new moderator, who came prepared with questions to stimulate discussion, and at least a dozen women showed up. Still, like the first group, the large majority admitted they didn’t like the book well enough to recommend it to friends and despite the moderator’s valiant efforts, none of the questions sparked lively discussion.

In fact, a spark was exactly what was missing. We were readers. We took time from our day to come to this meeting and talk with others about books. But there was little real enthusiasm. Where was the passion?

When the moderator asked for suggestions of what to read for the next month, the group was silent. I can be silent. But those times are when I have nothing to say. I always have something to say about books. So, after a long pregnant pause, I offered a suggestion. It was met with more silence. I said, okay, tell me what you like to read and I can make a suggestion in that genre. They stared at each other, at their hands, and the table we sat around.

“I read scifi,” one brave soul finally blurted out.

“Can you be more specific?” I asked. “Some purists mean only outer space stories, but others include fantasy when they say scifi.”

Her eyes lit up. Finally, the spark I’d been looking for.

“Paranormal, I’ll read anything about vampires and werewolves that has a romance in it,” she said with enthusiasm.

The admission was a magnificent step out of the literary closet. She wasn’t the only one. Three others stayed after the meeting so they could quiz me on lesbian fiction. And, I’ve been fuming since that they had been cowed into silence by the people who tell us that only books published by mainstream or academic presses are worthy.

Reading—like music and film and theater—should be a passion. It should bring you pleasure.

So for all of you who feel pushed into the closet by haughty book clubs and best seller lists, do what I do when asked that key question: “What do you write?”

I straighten my shoulders and lift my chin to give them a stare that dares them to smirk and I say, “I’m D. Jackson Leigh, and I write lesbian romances in equestrian settings.

Often enough, I get the snobby reply: “I don’t read romances.”

If they only knew. They could be a character in one of my books—the one who needs to let go and find passion.

—-

D. Jackson Leigh is the author of five romances published by Bold Strokes Books. Her newest title, “Every Second Counts,”Every Second Counts 300 DPI is now available in ebook and print at www.boldstrokesbooks.com.

Every Second Counts

Success for Marc Ryder means riding out eight seconds on the back of an angry rodeo bull. She’s exactly the type of wild and reckless person artist Bridgette LeRoy has avoided since the senseless death of her brother. But circumstances throw them together, and Bridgette is drawn into a tumultuous ride of attraction, passion, and denial. When she realizes it’s the only way to protect her battered heart, Bridgette’s desperate mission to stop Marc’s suicidal return to the rodeo becomes a race in which every second counts.


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