Archive for August, 2016

Let’s Get Stuck Together

By Barbara Ann Wright

BarbaraAnnWright (459x640)

 

As I get older, I’ve discovered that ruts are more frequent than they used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I loved a good routine when I was a kid. I adored schedules. I like to plan ahead, and I shudder a bit when plans change at the last minute, but as I’ve gotten older and acquired some long-term illnesses, the ruts have a tendency to pile up.

Medication tapering off? Let’s wait a little while to change it, give the old one a chance to work again. (Like that makes sense!) Want to go out for a special dinner? Maybe next week. Tonight I have laundry to do. Routines are comfortable, even if that comfort turns into boring. It’s easy and safe.

Lately, though, I’ve been trying to break out of my ruts, to try new paths. After all, there will always be more work to do. My fresh perspective prompted me to write Coils. Well, that and my love of all things mythology. (My favorite classes in college.) Cressida is a mortal girl who has little in her life but study. Her aunt June is a world traveler, an adventurer, and her disappearance shakes Cressida out of her routine and leads her to the mystical Underworld. In the Underworld, Medusa has also been stuck in a cycle, a millennia long slog of revenge and hatred. Together, they can make each other’s dreams come true, just probably not in the way they think.Coils 300 DPI

I’ve long wanted to tackle the Medusa myth. She and her two sisters, the infamous Gorgons, were demigoddesses long before the story that had Medusa cursed by Athena. They were fearsome, snake-haired, winged women, and their faces still adorn some ruins as protective symbols, a threat for anyone who entered with ill intent. Then, when later religions took over—like those that favored the Olympians—Medusa was demoted to a monster, a prize for the hero Perseus to slay. I wanted to take her back to that earlier form, still slain by Perseus, but a powerful figure in her own right.

Cressida is my everywoman. We’ve all been her, so stuck in our ruts that we don’t see how unhappy they’re making us. And what better way to shake her up than a sexy, snake-haired demigoddess? I think she would give all of us a wake-up call.

Even though my illnesses will be with me the rest of my life, I’m grateful I’ll always have my books to help me out of my ruts. They take me new places, from fantasy cities to the depths of space to the magic and mystery of the Greek Underworld. And I’m always happy to have company. Anytime you need a lift out of your routine, we’ll go together. You never know what monsters and magic await you. There could be a goddess in your future. Or something you least expect.

 

Th Pyramid Waltz 300 DPI 1Barbara Ann Wright writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories when not ranting on her blog. The Pyramid Waltz was one of Tor.com’s Reviewer’s Choice books of 2012, was a Foreword Review BOTYA Finalist, a Goldie finalist, and won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy. It also made Book Riot’s 100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels By Female Authors. A Kingdom Lost was a Goldie finalist and won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy Romance.A Kingdom Lost 300 DPI

 

The Amazon Trail

Game of Throne

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

Game of Throne is what my sweetheart calls the nightly battle between our cat and me over Big Blue.
Bolo is our gray, fourteen year old, lesbian-required cat. Sadly, we’re down to just one kitty and no dogs. We can’t add either to our household because Bolo has diabetes. Her symptoms are triggered by, among other factors, stress. An addition to the family could kill her.
The Throne is Big Blue, a recliner we bought for my rotator cuff and bicep surgery. In recovery, it’s too painful to lie flat and I only had use of one arm for 2 months, so we needed a power recliner. I added the stipulation that it fit both Bolo and me.Bolo and Me On Big Blue
Once my shoulder healed enough, I was able to return to my sweetheart’s side and the cat, a heavy sleeper and loud snorer, to her place on us, between us, or as a lump on our feet.
When my sweetheart first mentioned Game of Thrones, I thought she was talking about the current presidential race. Neither of us follow the HBO series. Without that frame of reference, it made sense to me that she would be talking about Clinton vs. Trump, a nightmare that should not be happening. No one in the U.S. has ever worked harder to prepare for the presidency than Hillary Clinton. Never mind what a complete (insert bad word here) Trump is, Clinton has been in government for so long, the (new bad word) opposition uses her suitability against her.
I pictured he-who-would-be-king attempting to de-throne she-who-qualifies-for-coronation.
There was our blonde equivalent of Kim Jong Un in all his immaturity, surrounded by the likes of supporters Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Tyson and Sarah Palin, headed for the throne as if entitled. And there was Secretary Clinton, followed by a train of millions of women—suffragist foremothers to expectant little girls to underemployed lesbians—carefully navigating the broken glass of a ceiling never before penetrated.
That this should be a contest at all is beyond my comprehension. People say they don’t trust Clinton. And they trust Trump? People believe the muck that’s flung at Clinton. And they don’t see that their god of business is covered in slime? People say they want the country run like a business? Well, finally, after decades of big business corrupting our government, capitalism may trump democracy.
To call a powerful woman names and to otherwise disparage her—come on, America, we’re better than this old-fashioned misogyny.
Oh, America, where has your soul gone? It used to be said that our streets were lined with gold. Now they are, but not the narrow streets filled with people of color and immigrants, not the dirt roads into rural poverty, not the intersections crowded with protesters, not the crosswalks which the old and/or disabled enter with trepidation as drivers speed through, oblivious.
Hillary Clinton has always shown that she cared for all Americans. From her first universal healthcare attempt to advocating for women employees on Wall Street, she has proven her bonafides, while her challenger has left service workers in the dust, business people unpaid for their labor, and financial failures of colossal size.
But that wasn’t what my sweetheart meant at all. Not the Game, not politics, but our delight in Bolo and Big Blue.
It doesn’t take much to make this marriage gay. We laugh when Bolo’s all snuggled in beside me and I dare to absent myself for some necessity or other. Say, heating up my green tea, refilling my sweetheart’s Diet Coke, giving Bolo her insulin shot, or, goddess forbid, visiting the restroom. When I carefully lower the footrest, our little one glares at me sidelong, perturbed, and moves not a squinch to let me up.
I wriggle out slowly, slowly, making myself as small as humanly possible to avoid further disturbing Her Highness. As soon as my back is turned, my sweetheart tells me with a laugh, Bolo takes over the entire built-for-two seat to soak up whatever warmth I’ve left. We live with an energy-efficient cat.
On my return, the true tussle begins. Logically, I should be able to retake my fraction of the Throne. As any cat person knows, cat bodies are subject to thermal expansion. The body heat I leave causes Bolo’s furry fourteen pound self to gain mass and spill from her original boundaries. There is probably a mathematical formula for this.
In a gentle voice, I suggest that Bolo make room for me. My sweetheart laughs more as this method is guaranteed to fail.
I begin slowly, slowly, to sit, while extending my hand and arm to reverse the kitty’s diffusion. Again I get the annoyed glare, her eyes mere slits. I wriggle all the way onto Big Blue, petting the kitty, scritching her favorite spots. Finally, I raise the footrest.
This is not nearly as hard as walking the tightrope of public opinion in sexist America. Or as dangerous as being point woman in the gender war.
Miffed, Bolo gets up and, to underscore her disgust, licks her fur where I’ve touched it. With deliberate dignity, Bolo daintily steps over me and leaves to flaunt her magnificent silver grayness on my sweetheart’s couch.
I have, to my bitter disappointment, won our Game of Throne. I beg Bolo to return, I offer kibble, I debase myself by crawling after her. To no avail. I know how President Obama must feel facing our obstructive congress. I know the stakes are high for gays in this election.
I re-reheat my tea, re-return to the Throne, try to remember what I was working on, focus, and—Bolo’s back, demanding to be petted in apology. By the time she finishes rearranging herself I remember what I was doing: sending a donation to Hillary Clinton, the next president of the United States of America.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2016

A BOLD STROKES BOOKS AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH VANESSA CLARK

BY Connie Ward

vanessa-clark-480

What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen—short stories, essays, and a play—but strangely, and I don’t know why, I don’t think of myself as a “fiction writer” that much, if at all. As a teenager, I was always a literature nerd and a bookworm, but never did I think I’d be a writer one day. Back in those days, I would write only when I had a creative-writing homework assignment. As much as I’d enjoy those assignments and get really immersed in them, I never wrote outside of school, never did at home. I was a reader to the core, spending hours in a bookstore or library. All I did was read. Teachers often asked me, “Have you ever thought about publishing?” but I didn’t take writing seriously and didn’t take their encouragement to heart. But in 7th grade, I started thinking and wondering if writing was something I could take seriously, so I dared myself to send two of my creative-writing homework assignments to Scholastic Inc. They loved them and gave me a few Gold Key Awards.

During college, I went into writing/publishing erotic shorts only because it was fun, something to do. Maybe that was why I never took being a writer seriously, because I only ever see writing as fun. Writing is what I do; writing is not who I am. It’s still an escape, and it’s still all fun for me.

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

It wasn’t ever part of my master plan or anything to write “gender bending” stories in historical and contemporary settings, but it seems like I can’t help but write them. Having transgender (especially non-binary/gender non-conforming) characters star in my works is second nature for me: they’re what I know, and they’re who I am. I’m intersex. I’m trans. I’m pansexual. Most of all, I’m human. I’m proud of these layers about me. I get a kick out of unraveling those complexities through my LGBTQI characters and with these transformative themes that embody what being LGBTQI is all about. My mission is always to portray my characters, no matter where they identify in the LGBTQI spectrum, as “normal.” Because I’m intersex and trans, I’m awfully bored with people choosing to only see a fantasy and not the reality of what it is like being me. My characters, like me, like us all, are not “otherworldly.” We aren’ aliens, fetishs, or objects. We are human, we are people deserving of love: not only to be loved by others, but most importantly, we deserve self-love, to love ourselves for just the way we are.

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

I might be the odd one out in saying this, but aside from the friends who’re also authors and enjoy my work (and vice versa of course!), I honestly have no idea, like I don’t know what most of my family/friends think of my work, if they love it or hate it, if they care or don’t care. I don’t talk about writing, or my writing, or share any of my writing to them unless I’m asked about it. I don’t have beta-readers. I prefer working alone. It’s all because I like to keep author-related stuff for my followers on my Twitter, blog, and Facebook, while with my friends/family, I prefer to be hush-hush about my writing life. Not out of shame, embarrassment, or hiding; it’s not for any negative reason. It’s my choice. Naturally, and always, I smile when some of my friends/family reach out to me asking about my work, or to say that they have bought/read/reviewed my work, but it’s not something I expect from any of them. It’s a bonus if they do, but it’s nothing personal if they don’t. I wouldn’t want this any other way, this separation of my private life and writing life, and the distance between friends/family and social media followers. It’s truly bliss for me.

Where do you get your ideas?

This is gonna sound daft, but I don’t know! Like, I have more than enough fuel in inspiration from movies, art, music, and drag to keep my creative flow going once I have my idea/concept for a story in my head, but where they come from exactly, it’s not from anyone, anything, or anywhere concrete really. I just write from the heart. I guess that’s where the ideas are, from my personal experiences of this storied life I’m living so far. And instinct. I write with my instinct.

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

I just write. I can’t mold, shape, and develop a story until it’s actually there on paper. When it is, that’s when I go back and start planning how I want my manuscript to be, chapter by chapter and scene by scene. I also hunker down tight and get very meticulous, taking my sweet time and enjoying the new project that has potential for publication and is deserving of my time, effort, and love. And it’s not about rushing. This isn’t a race. It’s about the journey, not the finish line.

What makes The Man on Top of the World special to you?

The Man on Top of the WorldI believe in the glam rocker. I believe in him, in her, in them. I believe in rock and roll. I believe in love. And I believe in me. I believe in everyone. I believe that we can all make dreams and miracles happen. The Man on Top of the World is made up of this. It’s the stuff of my dreams. It’s my fantasy, but it’s a reality in that it’s my first novel. For that, it will always be “the one.”

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

I put all of myself in my characters. I base a lot of who they are on who I am, or who I’d like to be. No matter how similar or completely opposite they are from me, I have to be there in some way, shape, or form so that the authenticity of their perspectives/experiences can be as “real” as possible. It’s also for the betterment of the story and for the benefit of my writing: it has to come from places, feelings, emotions, and situations that I know personally, not from somebody else. I could never borrow from other people’s experiences; that doesn’t feel right to me. No matter how interesting, exciting, and crazy their stories might be, it’s not for me to tell it or rewrite it; hence I haven’t and still can’t see myself putting people I know into my characters.

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

I’m shamelessly old school. Dead writers give me life. Oscar Wilde and James Baldwin. They were everything to me as a teenager, and they are still everything to me now. With Oscar, it’s not The Portrait of Dorian Gray that was a revelation to me, but it was De Profundis that really blew me away, that moved me. In Latin, it translates to “From the depths.” This work goes even deeper than deep, somehow. That’s how deep De Profundis is. With James, it’s not Go Tell It On the Mountain; it’s Just Above My Head. For me, that’s the novel supreme of all that he has written.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Every writer says “read a lot” and “just write.”

Yes, one must read a lot and just write, but the most under-looked advice that should be stressed as much if not more is this: edit. Yes, EDIT. Edit a lot, not necessarily as you write, but after you’ve birthed the work, when it’s on paper. No matter how much that rough draft sucks or how pretty good it is for a rough draft, seriously, I can’t stress this enough: EDIT.

I know, we have professionals who edit for us, which is maybe why most writers don’t stress this part of the process. I’m by no means saying that you have to have the skills of a professional editor, because you won’t. Most writers rarely have that same “editor eye” as a professional editor does, which is pretty razor sharp (hence is why what they say can sting sometimes!), but think like one, pretend that you are a professional editor, the best that you can. Trust me, this mindset does wonders, and it actually works. The joy of crafting a story is in the writing, but the real magic is in the editing.

Think of any writing project as a movie: think of it as if you’re a director that’s going back over and over re-watching your movie that you know is good, but it needs to be better. And it can. Yet it’s up to you to be in control of shaping and molding it from a rock into a diamond. Watching that manuscript develop, grow, evolve, and sparkle—that’s the magic. Is self-editing work? Yes. But does it have to feel like a chore, does it have to be painful? Absolutely not. It’s what you make of it. It’s in the attitude. Be positive, have fun with it. Edit, edit, edit, revise and rewrite that manuscript as much as you instinctually feel is necessary. Do it for not only the benefit of the project, but for your growth and development as a writer. Chuck the ego. You don’t need it. Your manuscript deserves all the TLC in the editing, revising, and rewriting it needs. YOU are worth the long hours, lost sleep, and nagging headaches. Another piece of advice is this: it’s fine to have your beta-readers, critique partners, friends, and family look over your manuscript to give you advice, tips, constructive feedback, and praise to make your project better, but…this is your story. Don’t base your manuscript and your writing confidence on the opinions and approval of others. Your writing confidence should be validated by you, not your friends, family, and peers. Be a little selfish. Write a story that you want everyone to like, and nobody will like it. If you write what you want for yourself, you will more than likely please at least ten people. And chances are, even more people than that. Such as it is with life, with writing too: be yourself.

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

When I’m at home: my fun is connecting with my followers! You will see me every day on my Twitter and Facebook page sharing so much, at least five to ten posts a day, sometimes a few posts more, and connecting with as many people as I can who comment or message me privately. Luckily, I attract some of the most positive, open-minded, intelligent, and caring people that make every day on my social networks new and never, ever boring. They’re why I keep the pages going on a daily basis. I truly have a great time connecting and bonding with everyone.

When I’m not a homebody, New York City is my home away from home! You’d see me at the art museums from the Metropolitan to MoMA, Central Park, at the gay night clubs supporting my drag artist friends, going to a Björk concert, sometimes to a Broadway or off-Broadway show—
anywhere where there’s art, music, theater, and drag, it’s where I’ll be, and front row! I’m everywhere in NYC! It’s where I thrive best. Being social, that’s my great love, my ultimate fun.

A BSB AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH T. L. HAYES

by Connie Ward

TL Hayes

 

What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

 

When I was a kid my mother wrote poems, usually rhyming ones, and often about people she knew, as a tribute to her friends. Everyone loved them, and others would ask her to write one for them. She would happily oblige them. When I was ten I wanted to be like her, so I sat down to try to write poems too, but the words wouldn’t come. Finally, by high school, the words came. I wrote tons of poems. Then, eventually, I branched out into short stories. Given enough time, I moved onto plays, briefly finding a home as a playwright. But I came back to fiction after putting it aside for many years, and at this time in my life, writing fiction is what I need to do.

 

 

 

What type of stories do you write? And why?

 

No matter what genre or form I’m writing in, I definitely have strong female and, of course, lesbian characters. I try to include romance and humor, as well as relatable moments, as I want my readers to not just enjoy the story but connect with it, maybe even see themselves in it. Overall, I like happy endings, and I love a good romance. But that doesn’t mean that a bigger, more serious piece couldn’t be in my future.

 

 

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

 

They are all very supportive. So supportive, they’ve all asked for free copies. Sadly, both of my parents passed on before I got word that I was going to be published. But, I’m sure, had they been here, they would have bragged about my novel to everyone they knew.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

 

Sometimes the ideas spring from a casual encounter with a stranger. I don’t think I’m the only one who does this. You meet someone, say, at the grocery store or on public transportation, you’re attracted to them, and your mind starts working overtime imagining a whole scenario with that person. Sometimes ideas come from those moments. Other times an idea just pops up from nowhere. I think if all writers were honest, we would say we really have no idea where the stories come from; they’re just suddenly there and we have to write them.

 

 

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

 

Sometimes I have an idea for a character and then figure out from there a story I can build around them, but either way, once I know the story and at least two of the characters, I just start writing and let the story take me along for the ride. I hate planning and outlining a story. Even as the writer, I still like to be surprised, so I may not know how the story will end until I end it. Sometimes, unexpected things happen, and I like it that way. I think it makes for a better story.

 

 

What makes A Class Act special to you?

 

A Class ActA Class Act is special to me because it is a story that sat in a box, unfinished, for about ten years. I was unhappy with it, doubting my ability to write fiction, so I put it away and forgot about it. When I finished my second master’s degree, I was unemployed and job hunting and needing to make money. I pulled out the box with all my writing projects in it and went through it to see what might be publishable. I submitted poems, academic papers, and this short story that, at the time, went by another name. When I received the email saying that Bold Strokes was going to publish it, it was quite a shock, but a happy one. After all the rejections, finally someone wanted to publish something I wrote. It was a wonderful feeling.

 

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

 

For this story, none of the characters are exactly based on anyone in particular, though I did steal the names of some of my friends for the characters, as well as the classroom building. That being said, some of Rory’s world views are also mine, but that is all we share. She isn’t meant to be my counterpart. Overall, the characters are all uniquely themselves.

 

 

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

of this author(s)?

 

Some of the gay and lesbians writers I’ve always loved are Rita Mae Brown, Sarah Waters, Elena Dykwomon, Susan Smith, Ivan E. Coyote, S. Bear Bergman, and Armistead Maupin, to name a few. Their works I rather enjoy are Venus Envy, Fingersmith, Beyond the Pale, Of Drag Kings and the Wheel of Fate, Burning Dreams, Butch is a Noun, Gender Failure, and of course, the Tales from the City series.

 

 

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

 

Don’t give up. Learn how to take constructive criticism. Learn new things so you can write about them. It’s great to find a routine that works for you and stick to it, but don’t beat yourself up if life gets in the way and you can’t write that day. Read for fun, in the genre you write in, as well as others. Write the story you want to write.

 

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

 

I read. I have coffee with friends and talk about writing. I get into emoji wars with friends who are far away. I listen to music really loud on my headphones so I don’t have to share my music with anyone. I color dirty words in my adult coloring books because mandalas are boring. 

 

 


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