Archive for February, 2016

The Best Pap Smear Ever

 

By Clifford Henderson

Newly in love, my girlfriend and I decided to get Pap smears at our local Women’s Health Center. I know. It doesn’t sound very romantic. But, in a way, it was. The year was 1991, and we were on the threshold of starting our lives together. And we were so in love: crazy, giggly, can’t keep-your-hands-off-each-other in love; we didn’t want to leave each other’s side for one second. So if Pap smears were to be had, why not schedule them together? As far as I was concerned, it was almost as big a commitment as getting married—because I’m sure the pap smears were my idea. Dixie, who I’m still with twenty-five, love-filled-years later, grew up on a cattle ranch in the dusty panhandle of Texas where “doctorin’ what ailed” consisted of shaving off a piece of a cow penicillin pill and downing it with a swig of Mama’s sweet tea. Me? I was a doctor’s daughter and big on those annual check-ups.

 

Cut to the Pap smears: Dixie in one brightly-lit examination room plastered with empowering, multi-colored, multi-ethnic posters of earthy womyn doing things like birthing the earth from their loins, their arms sprouting trees; me in a similarly decorated room next door; our feet simultaneously propped up in pot-holder-covered stirrups; our inner most cavities being simultaneously probed by thoughtfully warmed up speculums. Make no mistake, it was love, and we were in it.

 

scan0004As fate would have it, our appointments ended at the exact same time—a miracle since I always saddle my health care professionals with tons of questions—and so we met up in the lobby, each of us feeling that I-am-Woman-hear-me-roar feeling. Or, I was anyway. Dixie, no doubt, was thinking: Sheesh! Glad we got that over with. Now can we get back to sex? But there was a hubbub going on in the lobby. The staff seemed all worked up—as well they should’ve been because who was visiting the Health Center that day, but Gloria Steinem! I’m not kidding! She was standing there all tall and gorgeous and in those big glasses of hers. Turns out, she had a speaking engagement in Santa Cruz that day, and was just checking the place out.

 

It gets better.

 

One of Gloria’s entourage rushed up and said, “Gloria would like to have her picture taken with you. Would that be okay?” Of course, we said, “Yes!” Or, I did. I’m pretty sure Dixie just wanted to get the hell out of there. You can see it on her face. She’ll tell you it looks like she thinks Gloria just farted.

 

Weeks later, the Gloria sighting a mere speck compared to the wonder of falling in love, the photographer unexpectedly dropped the photo off where I worked, and, damn it, I never got her name—or, if I did, I was too love-stricken to remember it—but her photo sits proudly on a bookshelf of our office. I have had many pap smears since, (Dixie not so many) but never one graced by a celebrity.

 

Rest Home Runaways 300 DPISo, I hope you enjoyed my tale of The Best Pap Smear Ever enough to check out one of my novels. I’m slowly working on a fifth. Send me good vibes to keep going. And get your annual check-up! You never know what might happen.

 

Send me a comment about one of your Pap smears or Gloria sightings by Feb. 28th     and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of one of my novels—your choice.bsb_spanking_new_3ds__53490BSB_Mayes_Request_small

The Amazon Trail

Airing the Lesbian Laundry

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

 

My sweetheart and I don’t pay much attention to roles in our marriage. For one thing, she’s the more able-bodied spouse and taller. It’s not likely to be me at the top of our six foot ladder, heaving storage boxes onto the garage rafters. And when U.P.S. brings the “some assembly required” contraptions to our door? I usually hand my sweetheart the box cutter and the screwdriver and, when she finishes, the oohs and ahs.

Laundry is a whole other matter. She says it’s always been her thing. The only comment she ever made about my laundry skills was a question, “Why don’t you buy some new underwear/towels/socks? We’ll toss these.” I was horrified. Early on, she announced that she would be doing the laundry in the future.

Hey, I wasn’t about to argue. I made myself useful in other ways and listened carefully during training sessions. I hadn’t even known that, with the right care, white didn’t fade to gray. I thought two weeks was a perfectly respectable length of time to wear one pair of jeans. Why waste water? Think of the environment!

We have three upright laundry baskets. At first, darks were on the left. On the right were whites and the middle basket was unsorted until otherwise determined by no one other than my Sweetheart. After several years, the determination was that I still couldn’t determine what went where.

We now have a hers basket each and a whites basket, but by careful observation, I have noticed some items that are not all white go in with the whites anyway. I occasionally, boldly, test this theory by hanging a wet whitish thing on the side of the whites basket. My sweetheart is saintly about not criticizing me. Or maybe I should be grateful for all that management training she’s undergone.

In the name of progress, and possibly to reward my sincere attempts to understand this laundry thing, I gradually began taking on folding duties. I am also allowed to place the wet clothes in the dryer and even turn the dryer on when and if instructed to do so. However, I am never, never allowed to fire up the dryer unless my sweetheart is here so that she can immediately fold. She folds the shirts, jeans—all the important stuff. When I said I was promoted to folding, I meant folding underwear, washcloths, socks—the less pressing articles, so to speak.

We both clean out the dryer filter, she, before she turns on the dryer, me, after the clothes are dry. Laundry methodology; it really works out the same in the end.

Prior to becoming a couple, I found the concept of folding unique. My sweetheart folds beautifully. That task was something I carefully unlearned a very long time ago in one of those revelatory moments when I stood at my dresser with an armload of underwear and went ah-ha! prior to stuffing every last piece into the drawer. In all practicality, why does underwear need to be neat? In this a femme thing?

Airing the Lesbian Laundry

Airing the Lesbian Laundry

Tip: Never set a full basket of clean laundry down in the same room as the kitty litter box and forget it. Needless to say, we bade farewell to those no longer resplendent articles.

My sweetheart points out that I have standards too. For example, no cleaning rag is tossed out except by me. I have hidden stashes so I always have supplies for kitty or doggy accidents, to slop up my cooking messes, for spilled potting soil, fertilizers, and after oiling my tryke in the garage. The microfiber cloths repose in their own special plastic basin under the sink and nowhere else, thank you very much.

All detergents must be fragrance free.

Shirts get squished into my closet. Except flannel shirts and sweatshirts. They are folded to go in a drawer. And t-shirts go on a shelf. And longsleeve t-shirts go on another shelf. Then there are good jeans that are hung up and scrungy jeans (not as scrungy as they once were) that are folded on a shelf. Recently, my grandmother’s red rocking chair has become the default repository for my clean and neat wardrobe. When the stack reaches a precarious height, I disperse it.

We spar over shelf space. I insist on shunting my clothes into far corners to make room for my wife’s. She leaves whole shelves open for me to store my things neatly and hopes I will fill them. Neatly. Recently and without my knowledge, a case of paper towels found its way to an empty shelf. You could call it a compromise.

Alas, I’m a rebel at heart: In the hidden recess of my top drawer are my boxer shorts. They roll just as good as they fold and there are no telltale wrinkles.

Copyright 2015 Lee Lynch

 

Martha [Lesbian] Living

What is Love?

“The Price of Salt” was one of the first lesbian novels that I read. When “Carol,” which is the retitled film version of “The Price of Salt,” came out to such positive reviews, I started watching the local movie ads. At last it came to Springfield. Ann and I decided to see it on a Tuesday in the late afternoon. The weather was supposed to get pretty bad later in the evening, so instead of our usual post-movie eating out, we planned on eating at home all snug inside watching the snow fall.

The movie stars Rooney Mara, of the “Dragon Tattoo” fame and Cate Blanchett who won Oscars for “Blue Jasmine” (best actress) and “The Aviator” (best supporting actress). They both are beautiful women. The film takes us back to the 1950’s and includes period dress, cars and attitudes. Blanchett’s character, Carol, has a complicated life: she’s in the middle of a divorce, has a little girl to whom she is devoted and a penchant for affairs with women. Mara’s Therese is a young woman who meets Carol and feels an attraction at once. She’s never been involved with a woman, and she has a boyfriend who wants to marry her. Young and innocent, Mara’s large eyes remind me of Audrey Hepburn in her role as “Sabrina.” So we are set up for the more sophisticated Carol to corrupt the young and inexperienced Therese.

There’s energy between these characters that seems genuine. From the first kiss, it’s as if the earth suddenly slopes away from us and we are propelled toward the hotel room, which—several smoky scenes later—is where Carol opens Therese’s blouse and there’s no bra. The younger woman’s breasts are smooth and sinuous —okay, this is a close up—there are two freckles on her ribs that would drive any card-carrying lesbian insane. Then they start kissing and touching and you know. So I leaned toward and Ann resting my chin on her shoulder, I nuzzled a bit and whispered in her ear, “Do we have any potatoes?”

Without missing a beat, she whispered, “One but it’s a big one. We can split it.”

So I’m wondering if this is what love turns into when you’re both in your sixties? Because I do love that woman. And in all fairness, there was a coming snow storm and we were eating at home. Yet I am puzzled. When I was a child, my grandparents were playfully affectionate. Was that about something as chaste potatoes? Is love cooking a meal for her? Is it quietly reading together for hours? Is it fussing at her to call a doctor when she’s sick? I don’t examine love and its meaning often these days. But I feel as a writer, I should be able to put it into words. All of my failed attempts over the years taught me (I am a slow learner) that love may be something that comes natural for all of us, but its quality takes practice and skill.

Anyway, here’s what I do know. I can’t forget those goddamn freckles. Outstanding movie.

Widow 300 DPISee Martha Miller’s latest book “Widow” was a finalist for Colden Crown Mystery Award 2015. See her web site www.marthamiller.net for “The Best of Lesbian Living” and other titles.

“All the Rage”

By Karis Walsh

I’ve never been a trendsetter. No one looks to me for the next fashion statement or hairstyle. (Although, with all the flannel I wear, I seem to have anticipated the “Lumber Sexual” movement. Minus the beard and ax.) I’ve also never considered myself to be a trend follower. I’d definitely come in last place in any “Name the Kardashian” game, and I don’t buy clothes based on appearance, but rather on three strict criteria: they must be cheap, comfortable, and not need ironing. But there’s one thing I started doing way before it became popular.

 

I’ve got goats.

Emma and Shasta

Emma and Shasta

 

You see goats everywhere now. Jumping around Facebook wearing pajamas, cavorting on television ads, and yelling on YouTube. Twelve years ago, when I first got a sweet little goat named Domino to keep my horse company, I didn’t realize I would eventually be part of a worldwide craze comparable to the invention of parachute pants or the Jennifer Aniston haircut. Yes, it finally happened—I’m part of a trend. And although I spend more time cleaning the shed and buying hay than you usually see in goat videos, I also get to experience the joy and laughter these wonderful creatures bring to life as they butt heads and jump on spools.

Shasta and I share a hotel bed

Shasta and I share a hotel bed

 

I’ve also shared a hotel room with two of them as we traveled from Washington to Texas, but that’s another story… (you can read it at http://kariswalsh.com/2014/01/27/traveling-cross-country-with-goats )

 

In my newest novel, Love on Tap 300 DPILove on Tap, Tace Lomond is as non-trendy as I am. She lives a quiet life in her own small corner of the world, limited both by life’s circumstances and by her own doubts and fears. Her new tenant, archaeologist Berit Katsaros, is the opposite—she’s all the rage in the small college town of Walla Walla, Washington. On the surface, one woman is world-traveled and hip, while the other feels that she’s provincial and boring. As the story progresses though, they manage to see beyond trends or lack thereof. They see beyond the details to the substance and value underneath.

 

I’m not sure what to do with my newfound sense of trendiness, my close brush with a pop culture fad. I’ll have to decide later. Right now, I need to fill my pockets with dried figs and pretzels and go visit the goats. Trends come and go, but goats are always hungry.

Kismet

Kismet

Night Sweats Trailer

Night Sweats

 

 

 

Check out Tom Cardamone’s trailer for his new book, Night Sweats, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDIpWLM709o

BOLD STROKES BOOKS AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH STEVE PICKENS

by Connie Ward
steve-pickens-200

What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I started writing short stories when I was in the third and fourth grades. I can even pinpoint the book that put me on the path—John Bellairs’s The House with the Clock in its Walls. I identified with the main character, Lewis Barnavelt, and the story so pulled me into it that the entire outside world completely vanished. It was such a magical experience I wanted to be part of that world and realized that the way to get there was to start writing.

 What type of stories do you write?  And why?

I’ve always been a fan of mysteries, but I really just stumbled into it. I spent most of my teenage years writing horror stories or just flat-out weird stories—writing that goes under the heading of speculative fiction these days. I still write a lot in those areas, much of which is tied to folklore and legends of the Pacific Northwest.

Everything I write tends to be very character driven—far more than plot driven. I hope to create characters that are engaging and would be the type of people that readers would like to spend time with them—having a meal, going to the movies, or whatever. I think once you’ve got really good characters, you can have them do anything and the reader will follow along. That said, I do try to make sure I keep the mystery in the story tight. I have to follow an outline a little more closely with a mystery so I don’t get completely distracted on finding the way to whodunit. For Final Departure I had the idea, and it just lent itself to good mystery, and off I went. I loved my characters so much, it just spun out, and the first one was followed in short order by six more. 

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

My family and friends have been tremendously supportive of my writing. Point of fact, they were the ones really pushing me to get off my duff and send something in to be published. They’ve been following my main characters around in draft after draft for the last…wow, ten years and told me to get on with it. It’s a gift having that kind of encouragement and support.

 Where do you get your ideas?

Final DepartureWell, for Final Departure I’m sorry to say it was loosely based on a real case that happened where I grew up when I was a teenager. Right up to the part about suicide not being ruled out for the victim, but I took it a little bit beyond that for the book .For my mysteries, a lot does come from real life, and for my other work I draw a lot of inspiration from the landscape around here.

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

For the Finnigan mysteries, I have to outline. It’s too easy to step on my tail if I don’t. I keep the outline spare, so that I can move in any direction I want, but certain points I have to keep track of. That isn’t to say things can’t change—in one of the books the murderer changed from who I thought did it in the beginning. Turned out it still worked beautifully for the plot I’d outlined. Better, in fact. It sounds bizarre to people sometimes when I tell them that or that “My character did this today and I didn’t see it coming,” but that’s how it happens sometimes.

For the actual nuts and bolts, I have a pretty strict routine—up early, coffee, breakfast, exercise, and then writing. Usually ten pages or 3000 words or so, sometimes more, sometimes a little less. Sometimes if I’m on a roll that takes two hours; sometimes it takes ten. Just depends on how things are going, but always those ten pages.

What makes Final Departure special to you?

It’s the fruition of a life-long dream, getting a novel published. I’m still in a state of disbelief.

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

When I started writing Final Departure I had a heck of a time because the main character was far too much like me. I finally decided that in order to get into the story and make it work, I had to make him as opposite of me as I could, both physically and in personality. Jake’s nine inches shorter, an extrovert, and thrives on working out all the time. We share the same impatience, but that’s about it. I’m more like Sam in appearance, but Sam is like the eye of a hurricane in his serenity with the world, and that is so not me.

Several friends are characters in the books. They know who they are, too.

And well…all the murder victims are inspired by a long list of very real politicians and bigots and religious zealots. There’s something very cathartic about bumping people off who have nothing but hatred and contempt for their fellow man—in the fictional world, of course.

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

of this author(s)?

I have to give credit to Armistead Maupin and the Tales of the City books. I think he was the first gay author I read, and he created all those characters I just loved and wanted to know what happened to them in book after book. Big inspiration there. So many others in the years since, but I’m a fan of Anthony Bidulka’s mysteries. Some others off the top of my head…Patricia Highsmith, Steve Berman, Augusten Burroughs, Daphne Dumaurier…so many others! Oh, and for humor you can’t beat David Sedaris.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Write. Write and write and write. Even if you can carve out only twenty minutes a day, just keep at it. And read everything you can get your hands on.

 

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

Spring, summer, and fall when the weather is good you can find me working out in the yard and tending the flowers. (In winter I hibernate.) I’m an amateur photographer and historian, with a focus on (surprise) ferries of the West Coast. I’ve always got a couple of books I’m reading, and I’m a huge fan of old movies. And of course lazy afternoons with my husband and cats are always a preferred way to spend a weekend.


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