Archive for March, 2014

Bold Strokes Books Author Interview with Rosalie Tarr

by Connie Ward

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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.

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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

BY HEATHER BLACKMORE

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.
blood
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: http://www.redcross.org/blood

http://www.heatherblackmore.com 

Bold Strokes Books Author Interview with Neal Wooten

by Connie Ward

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What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I think authors write what they read. As a kid I read Louis L’Amour. But it was when my mom bought me a collection of H.G. Wells books that I fell in love with science fiction. The Time Machine and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury are still my favorites.

 

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

I started out writing short stories and still do that today. I sold eight short stories in 2013. I love to write stories set in the future because my imagination is the limit. I think the trick is to not only create a fascinating tale but one that’s entirely believable.

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

They are my best fan base. I have the most awesome friends, and their support of my writing is unparalleled.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

All of my books stem from societal issue we deal with today, from religion, sexuality, and even the law, just told from a futuristic standpoint.

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

I have to plan. I have the entire structure in my head before I type “Chapter One.” The dialogue, character development, and idiosyncrasies of the plot develop as I write.

What makes The Balance special to you?

I am totally in love with this book. The BalanceThe Balance 300 DPI took me six years to write, and I threw a lot of work away and restarted many times as the story evolved. As I stated before, believability is key, and I think this story truly reflects the evolution of not only the physical characteristics of the human race, but the evolution of society, religion, and sexuality. And there are dozens of subtle Biblical references that might take several readings to catch. I hope readers will come away thinking, “This isn’t just a fantastic story about people tens of thousands of years in the future; it’s about us…now.”

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

A lot. I think most writers do that. In my last novel, the main character was totally fictionalized, but I was clearly the fat, funny friend. And the college professor was patterned completely from my high-school science teacher.

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

I don’t know the sexuality of the authors I’ve read, but to be honest, I had never read a gay-themed book until recently. I have had a chance lately to read Radclyffe and Malinda Lo, both very talented writers.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Write! There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s like saying you forgot how to swim, but if you get into the pool, you’ll realize you haven’t forgotten. If you think you’re stuck, simply sit down and start typing. You’ll be surprised where it takes you.

 

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

I love taking my three dogs to the dog park. I still hit the gym five days a week to lift. I love standup comedy and still perform at least one major show a year. I love to draw and paint, and I’ve recently created a new comic strip titled Brad’s Pit, about a guy named Brad who adopts an adult pit bull.

Dead Characters Matter Too

A Guest Blog by David-Matthew Barnes

One of the biggest challenges I faced while writing my recent novel Stronger Than This BSB-StrongerThanThis was creating two characters, Martin and Samantha, who die within the first few pages. Yet, because their deaths have an impact on the lives of both of my protagonists for the remainder of the story, I quickly came to realize the importance of dead characters.

In planning the novel, I knew Martin and Samantha were just as vital to the story as their loved ones, Daniel and Charlene, who were alive and coping with their unexpected deaths. Their presence had to be felt in order for the void they leave behind to be consequential. Because my readers spend so little time on the page with Martin – and no time at all with Samantha – my task was to create a sense of their personalities, voices, and existences, and reveal these through memories. In writing the novel, I found this was no easy feat. Yet, it provided me with the most challenging writing experience in my career.

As the novel is an epistolary one and the story is told through letters, text messages, interviews, memos, and online chats, I could not rely on traditional flashbacks to establish the characters of Martin and Samantha. Instead, readers had to experience them through Daniel and Charlene.

The deaths of Martin and Samantha had to create a powerful impact that would ripple throughout the rest of the novel. Therefore, when I sat down at my computer and started to type, I recognized that readers needed to find both characters likeable in order to feel the same sorrow that Daniel and Charlene endure. They had to be emotionally invested. However, because of the timeline of the story, readers wouldn’t form sympathy for them until long after their deaths. Like my main characters, readers wouldn’t realize what they lost in Martin and Samantha until they were gone – similar to the emotional epiphanies of Daniel and Charlene.

The most difficult aspect of this writing process was selecting the right moments to reveal more information. It was a constant tightrope, balancing between needing to develop their characters without appearing heavy-handed in doing so. Never did I want the reader to feel as if the memories of Martin and Samantha (essentially their backstories) were forced.

Overall, the writing process during this particular novel was educational and enlightening. I’m grateful for the experience because it’s made me more aware. Never before had I recognized the significant value of all the characters that populate the universe of a story – even the dead ones.


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