Posts Tagged 'KI Thompson'

Every Vote Matters

BY KI THOMPSON

BSB-KIThompsonRomances

 

About a week ago, Maryland held its gubernatorial primary election. Kathi and I had voted early because we worked as judges for the board of elections that day. We take voting seriously, even though Maryland is a blue state and the county we live in is especially blue. However, prior to our current governor, Maryland had a Republican in office (the first since Spiro Agnew), so it is still possible for Maryland to go in either direction.

It was disheartening then, to say the least, to witness the extremely low voter turnout – 22% of eligible voters showed up to cast their ballots. I was at our voting location from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm and was able to read most of a more than 400 page book on the Civil War. According to the Washington Post, Maryland had a 40% turnout for its primary in 1994 (still incredibly low) but the numbers have been declining since. And it’s not just Maryland. California had less than 24% turnout on June 3rd; in March, Texas had less than 10% Republicans and 4% Democrats show up; and fewer than 1 in 6 registered voters went to the polls in Indiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina (Washington Post, June 25).

Granted, it’s not a Presidential election year, and it’s only a primary, not the general election. But 22% – seriously? No one is certain what the reasons are, but most experts cite voter ennui, a complete lack of engagement. Perhaps they’ve had their fill of national partisan politics. Increasingly we see more finger pointing and less substantial discussion about the issues, and gridlock everywhere. The Republican Party suffers internally from determining whether they’re just plain conservative or extremely conservative. And Democrats have their own issues with those who want to see the party move away from the center and more to the left.

The other night, Kathi and I watched a documentary about the 50th anniversary of the murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Their killers: members of the Ku Klux Klan, the county sheriff’s office, and the local police department. Their crime: attempting to register African Americans to vote.

I don’t want to be melodramatic here, but the documentary reminds us that people have died for our right to vote. For more than 200 years, whether it was our founding fathers who fought for representation, the 15th Amendment to the Constitution that prohibits government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race, the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, or the Voting Rights Act of 1965, people fought, suffered physical and mental distress, and died for something we don’t even care about, but should.

Today, July 4th, %22Oh Say Can You See%22immigrants from all over the world will become citizens of the United States, some taking their oath in historic locations such as Williamsburg, Virginia, Monticello, Mount Vernon, even our National Parks, while others will take it in an innocuous auditorium in Anywhere USA. Most of these immigrants have waited years for this moment. Many come from countries where they have no rights at all and even face death for speaking out. But in America they will have a voice in the government who serves them.

So the next time there’s an election, be sure and vote. Those that have fought and died before you will thank you.

Thanks, Dad

  By KI Thompson

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love history. My passion for the past is a result of my father’s particular love of the Civil War. I recall my first trip to Getttysburg as a child because my dad wanted us to experience what that battle had been about.

A family car trip ensued during the hot month of July. A stop at every cannon and battlefield marker in the intense heat could not dampen his enthusiasm, nor to my surprise my own budding appreciation for what transpired there nearly 100 years before.

Now, 150 years after the battle, I have visited that site many times, but it is not Gettysburg I want to write about, but rather another battle that took place at the same time – the siege of Vicksburg. Under appreciated and less well known, the siege of Vicksburg was a tremendous victory for the North, resulting in the surrender of nearly 30,000 Confederate forces to Ulysses Grant on the 4th of July, the day after Gettysburg  ended. The southern commander, General John Pemberton, knew the terms of surrender could not be more advantageous to him than on the 4th. A Northerner by birth, he knew Grant would be generous on the holiday. The city of Vicksburg, Mississippi would not celebrate it again for 80 years.

The result of Gettysburg was that Lee never again ventured North in a serious attempt to fight the Union on its own soil. The result of the fall of Vicksburg (and the subsequent fall of Port Hudson several days later) was the North’s ability to take complete control of the Mississippi River, cutting off Confederate forces in the west from reinforcing General Lee in the east. The Confederate army under Pemberton surrendered to Grant, while Lee’s army limped away escaping capture from General Meade to fight another day and prolonging the war. It was one of the reasons why Lincoln chose Grant over Meade to command the entire Union army. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant General – the first officer to attain that designation since Washington.

From Gettysburg we traveled to Washington, DC and from there to Williamsburg, Virginia. Both cities were equally hot that 4th of July weekend. It is interesting to note how July 4th was such a crucial date in our country’s founding as well as it’s rebirth. Again my father, a photography buff, insisted that we stop at every monument in DC and gather around every colonial re-enactor in Williamsburg to have our pictures taken. We grumpily acquiesced, wishing only to get out of the heat and into air conditioning.

KI Thompson with her Mom and Dad

KI Thompson with her Mom and Dad

My father passed away June 17th. He didn’t quite make it to the 4th or his 81st birthday a few weeks later, but I still have the slides from our family’s trek – grumpy, hot faces, staring into the camera with a look that demands air conditioning. I plan to view them over and over again as a reminder – not of the heat – but of my love of history, and the father who instilled in me that love.

Thanks, Dad.

The Inauguration of LGBT Rights

  BY KI THOMPSON

I always get goose bumps each time I watch a presidential inauguration, but never have I felt such emotion as I did yesterday with the second inaugural of Barack Obama.

Photo by Kathi Isserman

Photo by Kathi Isserman

Of course Obama’s first inauguration was historic in its own right, and was made more so by being the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln – a milestone acknowledged by the use of the Lincoln bible during the swearing-in. The symbolism and promise in that moment made me so proud to be an American. This second inaugural had its own share of milestones: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the installation of the statue of Freedom atop the Capitol building, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as well as the fact that it was MLK Day.

Photo by Kathi Isserman

Photo by Kathi Isserman

But for me, the emotion came not from these symbols but from the words of the President’s speech when he noted the struggles from Seneca Falls and Selma to Stonewall. I was especially moved by his reference to the Declaration of Independence that if we are all created equal, then surely that must include gays and lesbians. And if we are equal, then our love must also be equal. This as the justices of the Supreme Court, about to hear the important cases on this very issue, sat nearby. Most of us remember a time when being in the closet was de rigueur, and some of us are still there because of our jobs or for other reasons. These words from the President of the United States will be forever enshrined in the pantheon of historic moments in our nation’s ongoing struggle for civil rights.

BSBers at Baltimore Pride

BSBers at Baltimore Pride

I was married three years ago in Washington, DC because it was not legal to do so in my home state. Last year, the legislature in the state of Maryland passed a law making it legal and recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. This incredible achievement was marred by a referendum aimed at overturning the law through the ballot. Fortunately the referendum was defeated by voters in November and effective January 1st same-sex couples are able to marry in the state. In addition to DC, there are now 9 states that perform same-sex marriages. Let’s hope those justices take the President’s words to heart as they take on the Defense of Marriage Act.

As we move forward over the next four years and beyond, I have a renewed sense of hope in the future of our country. I feel the tide of change shifting as more Americans open their hearts and minds to the gay community, welcoming us to the patchwork quilt of diversity that has always been America and makes us stronger. And while I know we still have a long road ahead of us, I recall the words of Dr. King who said, “Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

Photo by Kathi Isserman

Photo by Kathi Isserman

Still Fighting For Freedom

BY KI THOMPSON

I was going to write a patriotic and historical blog about the 4th of July. After all it was entirely appropriate. I had intended to talk about my recent trip to Fort McHenry where I watched an airshow that included the Blue Angels and the raising of the Star Spangled Banner – all in honor of the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

But upon reflection, the idea of a more traditional 4th came to mind, conjuring up thoughts of barbecues, picnics, parades, and fireworks, all in celebration of our freedom as Americans.

However, it was then I came face-to-face with the realization that in fact not all Americans are free. In fact, the vast majority of LGBT Americans residing in most of the states and towns across this country continue to be denied the right to be who they are or marry the person they love – some of the most fundamental of human rights. And although eight states and DC have passed marriage equality laws (though Maryland and Washington face referendums in November), the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor do the other states with no such protections.

So I had the idea of celebrating this 4th of July by saying thank you to your state LGBT equality organization. Thank them for the tireless (and thankless) work they do on our behalf every day to secure our most basic freedoms. Most of these organizations operate on shoestring budgets with less than 3-4 staff to cover the entire state. They receive nasty comments from right-wing fanatics and are more often than not criticized by their own communities for failing to achieve the impossible, usually with little help from these communities.

So today, when you celebrate Independence Day and how our founding fathers and mothers fought for our freedom, send your state LGBT organization an email thanking them for fighting for our freedom. It takes so little of your time and makes such a big difference to them. Better yet, how about making a donation – $4 in honor of the 4th, or $17.76 in honor of the 236th celebration – to help support the work they do? I know they’d appreciate the thanks or the donation.

If you don’t know who your state LGBT organization is, visit www.equalityfederation.org and click on the map of the state you live in.

Let’s never forget those who fought and died for our freedoms in the past, as well as those who continue to fight for us today. I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th.

A Memorable Fourth

by KI Thompson

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”

John Adams in a letter to Abigail, July 3, 1776

Well, Adams got it half right. But you can’t really fault him on his dates. The Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of Independence on July 2, 1776. Adams was understandably thrilled by the decision and wrote Abigail the next day. But Congress subsequently examined the document prepared by a committee of five: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. After much debate and revision they finally approved the Declaration of Independence two days later on July 4, 1776, the date that would become our nation’s birthday.

The significance of that historic moment, the first time mankind determined they could govern themselves independent of a monarchy, continues to leave an indelible impression upon me even now. What a risk Americans took, pledging their land, their homes, even their lives all for the sake of freedom. And against the mightiest power on earth no less. What an amazing feat.

That first July 4th will forever be the most memorable date for Americans, but there are other memorable Independence Day celebrations as well:

1826 – the “Jubilee of Freedom” celebrating 50 years of independence was made bittersweet by the deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on the same day;

1848 – the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington
Monument (Dolly Madison was present);

1863 – Gettysburg and Vicksburg become critical victories for the Union (the town of Vicksburg would not celebrate the 4th again for 82 years);

1930 – George Washington’s face is unveiled at Mount Rushmore;

1960 – the star spangled banner waves with 50 stars as Hawaii achieves statehood;

In 2011, not only do we celebrate the two hundred and thirty-fifth anniversary of this event we also commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War; a cataclysmic time in our country’s history resulting in the preservation of that which our founding fathers and mothers sacrificed so much to achieve. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Little did he know how profound and prescient his words would turn out to be. From the Emancipation Proclamation, to the women’s movement and Stonewall, we continue our struggle for freedom from oppression and equal protections under the law.

Even writing about this now I get chills. History has always been that way for me; not a dusty tome to be brushed off on rare occasions but a living, breathing thing, never static but constantly in motion. That’s why I love to write books that deal with historical events and their impact on my characters. My first book, House of Clouds, provided that outlet, juxtaposing the passion of two women with the upheaval of the Civil War.

As I research and write my latest novel, The Will to Wynne, set during the final
stages of the American Revolution, I am keenly aware of the role history plays
as its own character. I struggle in my efforts not to bore the reader with too much history or allow the history to overpower the story or protagonists. But as I write, I still marvel at the meaning of the 4th of July, Independence Day, or as Adams would have it, “the Day of Deliverance.” Whether it’s 1776, 1863, or today, I love placing characters in times of historic struggle to tell the story from their point of view. I only wish I could experience it as my characters have. Now that would be a 4th worth remembering.

An Interview with Karen Wolfer of Dog Ear Audio

by Clifford Henderson

Hey gang, June is audio book month! So I thought I’d take
a time out from my usual musing and interview one of my favorite women in the
business. Don’t know if you know this, but Dog Ear Audio, a company devoted to
put lesbian novels in the audio book market, produced the audio book of my
novel, “The Middle of Somewhere.” I narrated myself. It was a fun process and
turned out a great product. They’ve also produced novels by Bold Strokes
authors, K.I. Thompson, Catherine Friend, Kim Baldwin, and, you guessed it,
Radclyffe. What are they up to now? Read on.

Me: Why audio books?

Karen: Well, Cliffi, I’ve been a fan of lesbian fiction
for many, many years.  No need to go into exactly how many, but
with putting a lot of miles on my truck because of where I live and my job as a
solar installer, I was looking for something other than the radio to listen to
while on the road.  I searched on line for lesbian audio books, and could
not find any.

About the same time, my partner was building a soundbooth
for her video production company.

In one of those lightbulb moments, I realized this
professionally engineered soundbooth could be used for more than just
voice-over work.  Maybe we could record some of these books and fill a
niche that was not being given attention to.  Since then, I think my
partner has gotten in to use her own soundbooth twice for video work.  The
book recordings have kind of taken over.

Me: What projects are you working on
now?

Karen: We just released our latest book, “Breaking
the Ice” written and narrated by Kim Baldwin, 
which is set in
Alaska.  When possible, we look, and listen, for authors who may have the
voice acting skills to record their own books.  I believe they know best
how they want a particular character to sound, where to place the inflection on
dialog, and what overall feeling they want a listener to take away with them
from the story.  The written word is fantastic in telling a story,
but hearing a story brings with it an entire new set of emotions and
connectivity between an author and their audience.

Audio books connect on such a personal level.  It is
one human relating to another human through the spoken word; the oldest form of
storytelling there is.  Emotions are shared on so many
levels—excitement, anger, love—are all enhanced hearing a human voice
give life to those feelings.  Even a silent pause, in the right place,
can convey more about what is happening in a scene than many, many words
can.

“The Middle of Somewhere”, written and narrated
by a very talented woman, is a prime example of how hearing an author bring the
accents of a local population to life, greatly enhances the
story.  Whether it is the shady characteristics of one person,
or the adorable crush one character has for another, those human traits
are instantly captured in the tone of a skilled narrator.

Me: What projects do you see happening
in the future?

Karen: We have three more titles waiting impatiently on
our computers for editing.  By this, I mean sound editing, where we clean
up any extraneous noises that may have shown up, splice in re-takes, and then
go through an exhaustive listening process so we can correct anything else we may
have missed on the first go-round. All of our books are unabridged.

We recently signed an agreement with a download
distributor who will be getting us into the larger, mainstream distribution
networks like Audible.com, eMusic, Simply Audiobooks, Spoken Network, and
more.

I’ve always wanted to have our audiobooks
available in libraries across the country, so we will be taking a short
hiatus in recording additional titles, in order to establish those
connections with libraries. Having these wonderful stories available to
everyone is one of our goals.

Some women have sight problems, so we want to spend more
time letting them know we are here and that lesbian literature can be still
enjoyed even if the printed word does not work for them.

Me: Tell us a bit out your solar operation and why this
is important.

Karen: For the past 17 years, I have been a solar
(photovoltaic) installer for remote, off-grid homes. Our own home, including
all our computers, and especially the coffemaker, are powered with energy
captured from the sun.  Because our sound files are so precious, we trust
the reliability of our own power over anything that could come from the
grid.  It is better, cleaner energy.

We live in such an amazingly beautiful state, with
those legendary cobalt blue skies, that we like to keep our carbon-footprint as
small as possible.

This summer I hope to make some renewable energy videos
to help educate folks on what solar energy can do, and then maybe my partner
can finally get to use her own soundbooth.

After that,
we will continue to produce lesbian audio books from www.dogearaudio.com,
for all who want to enjoy a good story while driving, walking, or just doing
the dishes.


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