Posts Tagged 'Heather Blackmore'

Women’s Week in Ptown

By Heather Blackmore

Tell Me Something Good panelists (L-R): Radclyffe, Aurora Rey (moderator), Melissa Brayden, KC Richardson, Tina Michele, Holly Stratimore, Heather Blackmore

Tell Me Something Good panelists (L-R): Radclyffe, Aurora Rey (moderator), Melissa Brayden, KC Richardson, Tina Michele, Holly Stratimore, Heather Blackmore

Under the Gun panelists (L-R): Carsen Taite, Ashley Bartlett, Ali Vali, Samantha Boyette, VK Powell, Sophia Kell Hagin

Under the Gun panelists (L-R): Carsen Taite, Ashley Bartlett, Ali Vali, Samantha Boyette, VK Powell, Sophia Kell Hagin

Women’s Week in Provincetown, MA is a celebration of all things lesbian. It happens annually around Columbus Day, this year October 10-16th. There’s music, comedy, art, films, local tours, LGBTQ information, author readings, theater events, get-togethers over food, sailing, sports, and wine, and more. And while there are plenty of organized offerings, it’s fun just to walk down the street. You bump into people you know. It’s a safe, welcoming, warm environment where LGBTQ people, especially lesbians, can simply be themselves.

It’s Getting Hot in Here (L-R): Melissa Brayden (moderator), Charlotte Greene, Maggie Cummings, Kris Bryant, Sandy Lowe, Fiona Riley, MJ Williams

It’s Getting Hot in Here (L-R): Melissa Brayden (moderator), Charlotte Greene, Maggie Cummings, Kris Bryant, Sandy Lowe, Fiona Riley, MJ Williamz

 

This was my second time at Women’s Week, and for readers, it offers an exciting array of choices. Bold Strokes Books put on a bunch of author events (more on that later). Bywater Books was there, Indie authors were there, Golden Crown Literary Society members were there, as well as others. The town swarmed with some of my favorite writers in the lesfic community, from everyone on the BSB list below, to non BSB authors such as Lynn Ames, Georgia Beers, KB Draper, and Rachel Spangler.

 

Badges, Stripes, and Medals book signing (L-R): Jessica L. Webb, KC Richardson, Jean Copeland, Emily Smith

Badges, Stripes, and Medals book signing (L-R): Jessica L. Webb, KC Richardson, Jean Copeland, Emily Smith

One of the things I love about lesfic is the massive choice we now have in genre selection. From short-stories to non-fiction, romance to erotica, historical fiction to the paranormal, science fiction to mysteries, young adult to romantic intrigue, there’s something for everyone. Author events at Women’s Week give us a chance to sample from these options, learn about new authors, and hear from veterans.

 

 

Another thing I love about Women’s Week is the camaraderie. I met a ton of authors and readers. From formal meet-and-greets to informal get-togethers over meals and drinks, these readers and authors are mostly just down-to-earth, nice, fun people. The established authors are generally gracious and warm, the newer ones are excited and nervous, and those in between are in turns chillax, giddy, anxious, or troublemaking. The whole week feels a bit like lesbian summer camp (except for bouts of chilly weather).

Books!

Books!

 

 

The reason for this blog is to encourage those of you who enjoy lesfic and are wondering what it would be like to attend Women’s Week, to try to make it up to Ptown for a few days next year. There really are dozens of daily events of all kinds, so you don’t have to spend all your days inside listening to readings and Q&A sessions. Ptown is gorgeous and Women’s Week has a lot to offer.

 

Emily Smith and Laydin Michaels

Emily Smith and Laydin Michaels

 

But when you do want to learn about new books or listen to or meet some of your favorite authors, Women’s Week provides plenty of opportunities for you to do so. This year, BSB put on 8 diverse panels and 4 Q&A sessions and brought 30 authors to Ptown. All events are free and there is no hard sell. Obviously BSB would love to sell books, but there’s zero pressure. As with the meet-and-greet I attended 2 years ago, this one also offered anyone with the slightest gumption to walk up to their favorite authors, introduce themselves, and chat. There is nothing intimidating about it, except for the usual hurdle some of us introverts experience in social situations!

Love is in the Air Q&A (L-R): Aurora Rey, CA Popovich, Fiona Riley, KC Richardson, Sandy Lowe (moderator), Kris Bryant

Love is in the Air Q&A (L-R): Aurora Rey, CA Popovich, Fiona Riley, KC Richardson, Sandy Lowe (moderator), Kris Bryant

 

If you haven’t seen the BSB schedule, here were the authors in attendance this year:

Ashley Bartlett, Heather Blackmore, Samantha Boyette, Melissa Brayden, Kris Bryant, Jean Copeland, Maggie Cummings, Jackie D, CF Frizzell, Charlotte Greene, Sophia Kell Hagin, Sandy Lowe, Laydin Michaels, Tina Michele, Jaycie Morrison, C.A. Popovich, VK Powell, Radclyffe, Aurora Rey, KC Richardson, Fiona Riley, Emily Smith, Holly Stratimore, Carsen Taite, TJ Thomas, Julie Tizard, M. Ullrich, Ali Vali, Jessica L. Webb, and MJ Williamz.

Sealed with a Kiss panelists (L-R): TJ Thomas (standing), Jean Copeland, Melissa Brayden, CF Frizzell, Aurora Rey, Maggie Cummings (moderator), CA Popovich

Sealed with a Kiss panelists (L-R): TJ Thomas (standing), Jean Copeland, Melissa Brayden, CF Frizzell, Aurora Rey, Maggie Cummings (moderator), CA Popovich

 

Obviously I can’t guarantee what next year’s lineup will be, but I’d love to plant the seed for you to consider taking a few days off next year to experience a delightful getaway at Women’s Week in Ptown.

 

Who Am I?

By Heather Blackmore

Well I’m not Jean Valjean, 24601. (Sorry, bad Broadway reference.)

But I have heard that some readers like knowing more about authors and what led them to write their books, so I jotted down a few things about me and my latest romance, For Money or Love.

I’m a CPA but have never been good at math.

I did pass all parts of the CPA exam on my first attempt (fewer than 1 in 5 did this back then).

The first time I rode a motorcycle, aside from a test ride through a parking lot, I drove it from Orange County, California to Santa Cruz, about 400 miles. I can be stubborn when I set my mind to something.

That reminds me that I once rode my bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles over 570 miles in the 7-day California AIDS ride, which supports people living with HIV and AIDS. Yes, I used to be in shape. I can just hear Archie and Edith Bunker now…“Those Were the Days.” (80% of you are thinking, “Who?”)

I’m not a fan of mushrooms or olives. But I can be bribed with Thin Mints.

I haven’t watched a single episode of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Empire, House of Cards, or The Big Bang Theory.

I haven’t gotten a moving violation in 20 years, but all priors were for speeding. When I got pulled over for my last ticket, I’d been listening to a relaxation CD. It helped.

When I was 11 or so, I made it all the way to the state championships in the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship for my age group but lost at the state level. It’s been downhill ever since.

I’m not much of a shopper, unless you drop me off at a sporting goods store or REI.

I have an older brother. When we were young, he was my best playmate and biggest bully. We played and fought daily. Over the years, thanks to him, I got a broken finger, 5 stitches in my head, and a knife wound to the knee.

When Mom took me to have that broken finger looked at, the doctor said he needed to reset the bone. I was 13. He said he could put me under, or he could give me a local anesthetic but it would be painful. Mom offered, “She can take the pain.” After he injected my hand with a drug, he placed a Bic ballpoint pen at the base (webbing) between my fingers and wrapped his hand around my two fingers on either side. Then he abruptly squeezed them together. True story.

During my initial weeks as a college freshman, I was in the shower, shampooing my hair, when we had our first fire drill…

I’m a morning person. I can’t snooze.

As an undergraduate, I took a playwriting class from the late, great Philip Slater (The Pursuit of Loneliness), and he selected my play for a staged reading at the local theatre. After two nights of watching the actors and listening to the audience’s laughter or silence in all the right places, I was hooked. I decided then that I’d have to find a way to continue writing.

I love animals. I grew up with a dog and cat and have had cats throughout most of my life. Rather, cats have had me. These days a black rescue named Pepper allows me to do her bidding.

I fell in love for the first time as a senior in college. After dating some pretty great guys until then, the fact that I fell for a vertically-challenged, muscular-yet-feminine, wickedly intelligent Jewish woman wasn’t a huge hit with my conservative Catholic and Protestant parents.

The second time I fell in love, I married the woman. Friends who’ve met my wife know I got the better end of the deal. And I’m more than okay with that.

[One of the earliest photos ever taken of my wife and me, when we were dating. I’m the one in jeans.]2000_shelly-and-heather-taken-by-susan_laughing

I slept with an old teddy bear named Patrick until I got married. He was named after Patrick Swayze. (You can’t make this stuff up, folks.) And I can’t believe I’m publicly admitting this.

I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years, primarily vegan over the past couple years, in protest against factory farms—cruel aspects of modern-day society we needn’t sustain. A pig, for example, has the intelligence of a 3-year old child! We wouldn’t confine our dogs to life—let alone a day—in a tiny crate without sunlight, fresh air, or the ability to turn around. I decided that for me, the few moments I might enjoy that bite of bacon wasn’t worth sentencing a sentient being to a lifetime of torture.

Bernie Madoff, of all people, inspired a part of my latest romance, For Money or Love. I wanted to explore the very real question Mr. Madoff’s actions led me to ask: What if the parent you love and admire has engaged in such deceit that your entire world—your career, your home, your family, your social life, your fledgling relationship—will be destroyed if you turn your parent in? Do you do it? Or do you continue enjoying your life of privilege?

For Money or Love 300 DPIA part of me always wanted a sister, so in For Money or Love, I include a relationship between two sisters. My brother, however, is probably happy he only had to deal with one sister. I’m sure I gave him two sisters’ worth of lip.

Speaking of lip, as a teenager, I once pissed off my father so badly that when I refused to open my locked bedroom door, he busted through and splintered the door frame. Filled with adrenaline, I said something like, “Do you feel like a man now? You’re the one who’s going to have to fix that. Good job!” Teenage girls. Oy.

I dedicated FMOL to my late mother. I’d give anything to discuss that choice with her.

 

 

 

Because Mom

By Heather Blackmore

For Money or Love 300 DPI

If you had to describe what a romance novel is about using only one word, what would you use?

Love.

Easy answer. And in the context of romance, it’s a certain kind of love: intimate, sexual, consensual, chivalrous, grand, consuming.

But who taught you to love so fiercely?

I don’t want to get into anything Freudian, but I’d argue that your mother may have had something to do with it.

Maybe it’s odd that I dedicated my second romance, For Money or Love, to my mom. But when I think of the love I’ve experienced, she stands front and center.

In my early 20s, I fell in love with a woman, which didn’t go over well with Mom. It caused significant strain between us, which I’ve blogged about: http://www.heatherblackmore.com/blog/category/love-conquers-all. And since Mom died unexpectedly, we never got a chance to completely mend together. I believe without question that we would have, especially given the parallels between her and my mother-in-law and the latter’s shift over time to acceptance and inclusion because of her unyielding love for her daughter.

But I’ve never once doubted that my mom loved me. She was the quintessential mama bear, defending my brother and me unreservedly, teaching us right from wrong, being there for us every single day. Her laugh was full and infectious, her temper fiery, her work ethic strong.

Mom with new lamp

[Here’s Mom celebrating a new bedside reading lamp. She was a voracious reader. Mysteries were her favorite.]

An extrovert, Mom always conversed easily with strangers, never embarrassed to ask for a recipe or offer an opinion. She was a loyal friend and had so many that the church liaison had to accommodate the number somehow when scheduling her memorial service, though I don’t remember the details.

The worst day of my life—12 years ago yet I cannot write this without tearing up—was the day we decided to halt Mom’s life support machines.

I’m not a tremendously visual person, but the last image I have of my mom—the one that’s indelibly carved into my memory and I see frequently in my mind’s eye—isn’t a happy one. I see her through a large window to a separate room where, alone, she lies on a gurney on her back under a white sheet, only her head showing. When the crematorium’s representative asked Dad and me who would make this final identification, I volunteered. To this day I’m not sure whether I regret it, but I hadn’t wanted my father to have to see Mom like that again. Part of me also wanted to say a final goodbye.

The thing is, you really can’t say goodbye to your mom. At least not one like mine.

 

Dumb and dumber[Me with my Dumb and Dumber bangs looking at Mom as if she were the most amazing person on the planet. She’s doing a crossword puzzle—something she always loved—and while she was probably wishing I’d let her get back to it, she always made time for me.]

In my new romance, For Money or Love, both main characters have lost their mothers. Jessica Spaulding’s mother died when she was young, and her stepmother leaves much to be desired. TJ Blake’s mother lost her husband and subsequently her will to live, leaving behind two daughters.

And while there is so much more going on in the book than these women dealing with life without mom, it’s a subject I know all too well, one that I’d much rather have written purely from imagination.

In For Money or Love, each woman’s loss is not in the foreground of her life. But every single day, their lives are impacted by their mother’s death. Jessica sacrifices part of who she is in order to placate her stepmom; TJ sacrifices what might otherwise be carefree college years in order to rear her much younger sister, Kara. I go through days without thinking of Mom, but then sometimes I miss her so severely that I nearly break down.

Mom is forever with me. I don’t know what it is about a mother-daughter bond, but it’s strong. For me, unbreakable.

If I have any strength, I got it from my mom. If I have any courage, I got it from my mom. If I have anything to give, I am able to give it because of my mom.

So it stands to reason that if I’m going to write about love, I’m going to do it well. And if I’m going to dedicate a novel to her, it’s going to be a damn good one. Because Mom.

***

For Money or Love is now available at Bold Strokes Books in paperback and eBook formats, as is a free excerpt: https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/books/for-money-or-love-by-heather-blackmore-1870-b

Heather Blackmore works in finance for SF Bay Area technology startups. In a seemingly counterintuitive move, she got her MSA and CPA with the goal of one day being able to work part-time so she could write. The right and left sides of her brain have been at war ever since.

Heather was a debut author finalist for the Goldie and Rainbow awards and contemporary lesbian fiction finalist for the Rainbow awards for Like Jazz.

Leave a comment for Heather or drop her a line at heather@heatherblackmore.com or visit http://www.heatherblackmore.com. She’d love to hear from you.

Accounting for Love

When she’s not writing comtemporary romance, Bold Strokes Books author Heather Blackmore is immersed in the world of finance. For a glimpse of how her worlds collide, check out her acclaimed debut novel, Like Jazz.

Like Jazz 300 DPI

To learn more about Heather, visit her website here and tune in below.

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 

A Warm Embrace

BY HEATHER BLACKMORE

 

Hugs are underrated, beautiful, healing things. They can act like a life preserver when you’re caught adrift in life’s turmoil. They can ground you, reset you, free you just enough from whatever’s bothering you to make you want to lift your head and keep going. They can say, silently, but quite powerfully: You mean something, you’re important.

 

Great hugs are intimate things—and by that I don’t mean romantic things.

 

My novel, Like Jazz,Like Jazz 300 DPI is a romance, so of course there are some hugs between the main characters that portend of something beyond friendship. But the most important ones are those that say: “I care. I’m here. I’ve got you.”

 

One of the most memorable hugs of my life came from someone outside my normal circle of friends, yet with whom I’ve always shared an easy rapport: my sister-in-law. My father, brother and I were in a hospital waiting room, and she was with us. Two doctors had just informed us that my mother’s brain had gone too long without oxygen—the damage she suffered was extensive. Moreover, two of her other major organs (heart and kidneys) were permanently damaged as well. When we asked the doctors for guidance, they said they would not continue to keep her on life support. My dad, brother and I made the heart-wrenching decision to turn off the machines keeping my mom alive.

 

It was the most devastating experience of my life. Losing Mom so quickly, so unexpectedly, easily surpasses all other painful things I’ve known.

 

As soon as the doctors left us alone, I nearly buckled. I sobbed uncontrollably. My brother and father seemed shell-shocked. My analytical dad has never been big on expressing emotion or comfortable consoling others, so I couldn’t turn to him for solace. It was my sister-in-law who gave me exactly what I needed at that moment. She crossed the room, pulled me into a hug, and held on. Held me and let me cry. Held me through my pain. It’s been nearly ten years, yet tears threaten as a write this. As I remember. Mom.

 

Yet memorable hugs aren’t just about helping you get through the tough times. One of my best friends in high school was a very physically affectionate person. I wasn’t. I’ve become more so over the years, but back then I’d shrink from embarrassment when she’d hug me. And she’d do it in front of other people! So mortifying. Of course, my obvious discomfort with it only fueled her desire to keep doing it.

 

The thing was: I needed it. I needed a friend to say all those things that only a really great hug can: “You matter. I care.” I’d been taught not to tell family secrets to anyone, but keeping in family problems—especially when you’re in high school and everything seems like a bigger deal than it does in any other time of your life—took its toll. In a way that no one before her seemed to be able to, this friend would usually end up coaxing out of me whatever was bothering me. She’d give me her shoulder to cry on, and I’d allow myself to be held. It always helped.

 

One of the most pivotal scenes in Like Jazz revolves around a hug. Such a simple thing. Pure. Precious. Receiving an embrace when you need it, even if you don’t think you do, can be a soul-healing experience. For one of my characters, it was transformational to know someone cared. For the other, giving it wasn’t optional. It was such a fundamental aspect of her nature to comfort a friend in pain or distress.

 

But we don’t have to wait until someone’s upset in order to embrace them. We can do it anytime. When I was growing up, I remember a public service ad that asked, “Have you hugged your kid today?” It’s worth remembering and expanding upon. Have you hugged—really hugged—your child, spouse, parent, partner, or friend (including the 4-legged furry variety) lately? Maybe it’s cheesy, but guess what? Hugs are free and unlimited. They’re important and worthwhile.

 

They make a difference.

 

We always think we’ll have many tomorrows in which to tell someone we love them, we care. Losing my mom taught me that sometimes we run out of tomorrows. If you remember one thing from the many hundreds of messages/ad impressions you’ll see this day, I hope you’ll take advantage of today to make a difference to someone you love. Give ‘em a hug.

 

 

Heather’s debut novel, Like Jazz, is now available from Bold Strokes Books.

www.heatherblackmore.com


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