Posts Tagged 'lesbian mystery'

SURVIVAL BY CRAZY

 

by Ann Aptaker

ann-photo-300dpi

 

Okay, I have a few options here. I could cheer my good fortune in the year that just passed (Tarnished Gold, book two in the Cantor Gold crime series, won the Lambda and the Goldie awards, and I was hired to write scripts for a season of the children’s science TV show Space Racers.) Or I could hang my head in misery about events in that same year, which ended with the most nauseating election result in American history (talkin’ to you, Trump voters; I’m a dyke, and you clearly don’t give a fig for my rights, or even my safety). Or I could ignore the world’s crap and just hum my way into a numb nirvana, but a few days of that would probably kill me with boredom. Or I could embrace my most reliable survival skill, the one that writes the books, the one which identifies me as being a little nuts.

Though the first option feeds my ego with the irresistible candy of praise and recognition, I rely on the last one. It’s my “go to” when I need aid and comfort and strength. When I’m in my crazy-empowered state, hallucinations become scenes which become storylines which become books. Being a little nuts thus releases my most productive self; after all, I don’t have an elf crew which writes my books for me in the dead of night while I sleep.

Being a little nuts is also very freeing. I can chalk up my wildest, riskiest thoughts to, well, being a little nuts, and then everything just flows from there. No guilt, no shame, just literary flow. And come to think of it, I have to be a little nuts to write crime and mystery fiction in a Lesfic market which gobbles up romance. But oh well, what can I do? To quote one of the masters, Raymond Chandler, “Danger is my business,” to which I might add, “And dangerous women are my literary pleasure.”

Tarnished Gold 300 DPIWhich brings me to the recent focus of my crazy writer’s life, the outlaw Cantor Gold. She’s dangerous, all right: art thief, smuggler, and confident dyke in 1950s New York, as at home among the gangsters and molls of the criminal underworld as she is sharing cocktails with the upper reaches of New York’s high society snoots. Cantor is dangerous because lives life on her own terms, and no one—not the Law that wants to jail her or kill her, not the rich and powerful who want to use her—will ever take that away from her. She’s prepared to die for her freedom, and kill for it, too.

When I started thinking about the series, started formulating Cantor Gold—that is to say, when I finally allowed my crazy to escape into the world and onto the page—LGBTQ life was getting better. True, George W. Bush was president, and his conservative and religious fundamentalist supporters were waving their bibles in our faces. But inch by inch, court case by court case, they were losing the argument and we were winning our rights. We were pushing America toward that light of equality at the end of the tunnel, we were gaining acceptance—in the larger cities at any rate—and it felt good!

Something didn’t feel good, though, something irritated like a pebble in my shoe, and that something was the threat of forgetfulness. I couldn’t help feeling that in our rush into our bright future, a future of normalcy, the rough edges of the culture that thrived in our earlier, shadowed life would be smoothed away to the point of invisibility. Our colorfully defiant and dangerous past, no longer fashionable as we absorbed into the American mainstream, would be pushed into the closet we ourselves were coming out of. Thus, Cantor Gold, dapper butch in a time when being Lesbian, Gay, Trans, or any other non-hetero definition was punishable by arrest, imprisonment, or commitment to the psycho ward, was my way of keeping that defiant past alive.

And now it’s 2017. That nauseating election result I mentioned earlier has the potential to stop our progress in its tracks, make our way of life illegal again, make us fearful for our very safety. Who knew past would become present? Not I in those politically optimistic early days of Cantor Gold’s creation. Who knew that the release of Cantor’s third adventure, Genuine Gold, would coincide with the installation of a presidential administration and a congress which threatens our hard won rights? Threatens us?genuine-gold-bsb-final

What better time, then, for the defiant Cantor Gold to sing her stubborn insistence on living her life as she sees fit, on claiming her rights to her body and her sexual, emotional, and personal freedom? And as it happens, the crime and murder mystery plot of Genuine Gold takes Cantor back to the neighborhood of her childhood, the place where she grew up, the place which formed her, gave her her strength, her audacity, even her strut and style: Coney Island. Back on that honky tonk isle of fantasies and thrills, Cantor must confront everything she was, everything she is, and everything she insists on being. It all happens in vintage Coney Island, a wild place, a colorful place, where a little craziness, a little danger—then and now—are valued.

So being a little nuts is proving to be my most potent survival skill, fueling my literary ambition, my creative strength, and my defiance in the face of threats thrown at us from the incoming government regime. Cantor Gold, my offspring birthed from the womb of crazy, may be a fictional character from the 1950s but it turns out she’s a hero for our own time, too. She’s brave, she’s dangerous, she’s smart and sexy, and she survives in a world that wants to silence her, imprison her, even kill her. Her best weapon? Defiance.

But to keep her alive, I rely on my best weapon: the strength of being a little nuts.

Sleuths and Secrets

Three more vlogs!

Samantha Boyette

18-months

 

Samantha Boyette is my new BFF because we both love Veronica Mars. I heard her read from her upcoming young adult mystery, 18 Months, and I can hardly wait for the December release date. Click here to get the inside scoop.

 

 

 

Jessica L. Webb

Pathogen_300dpi

 

Is everyone ready for the second Dr. Kate Morrison mystery? I know I am! The wait will soon be over as the next book, Pathogen, comes out in December, but in the meantime, tune in here to get a sneak peek at what’s in store for Kate and Andy.

 

 

 

Laydin Michaels

bitter-root

 

Laydin Michaels is fast becoming known for her thrillers. Her latest release, Bitter Root, features a reclusive chef with a secret past and you’re not going to want to miss this exciting read. Click here for the inside story.

 

MY LITTLE FREE LIBRARY

Pop and Punkin

Pop and Punkin

 

By Clara Nipper

So a story about stories should begin with a story. Once upon amurder-on-the-rockstime, there was a small, blonde girl too smart for her own good, who enjoyed sparkly jewelry and high heels as well as sports and tree-climbing equally and who was deeply in love with her father. Books and candy tied for second. Candy she could get, having taught herself to cook, but she didn’t know where to get enough books. She had already devoured everything in the school library and read to tatters all the books at home. Trips by car to the big library downtown were few and far between for this impatient, voracious scholar and championship speller.

One sunny Saturday when this child was seven years old, her precious father took her small hand in his and said, “We’re going for a walk.” They walked and walked, out of the regal old neighborhood, past the grocery market, across the highway, through a field, past the tall office buildings, two miles from home. At last, they arrived at the Central Library, tall and glorious in its marble splendor. Pop knelt before the girl and pointed to the building. “Now you know how to get here on your own and you can come anytime.” Jubilant, she ran inside and immediately discovered the check out limit was fifty books, which was a good start. The girl, finally fed, lived happily ever after.

one of my favorite donated titles

one of my favorite donated titles

The Little Free Library is a grassroots movement to provide books (“leave a book, take a book”) to anyone at any time, particularly children, especially low-income kids in book deserts. Little Free Libraries can be any shape, size, color and type.

Little Free Library #20025 in Spring

Little Free Library #20025 in Spring

Library Stewards can get as creative as they wish with their libraries. I had to brainstorm for weeks about what to use for mine that would withstand extreme heat, cold, tornadoes, and driving rain, but would also visibly showcase the books. Finally, I realized that machines used to dispense daily papers would be perfect. I spent months contacting the company and finally obtained the correct contact and was able to obtain two of the retired machines. I painted them purple and green with lots of polka dots so they would be vibrant and visible and fun. I registered my libraries with the national organization; bought a starter supply of books and christened my Lilliputian libraries the Thomas Nipper Memorial Little Free Library. Then I began soliciting book donations from everyone I knew and the books just poured in. I want to do all I can to provide stories to other children of any age who are like me. Little Free Library # 20025 lived happily ever after.

Clara with her little free libraries

Clara with her little free libraries

 

As featured in Oklahoma Magazine, July, 2015

MomsofTulsa.com, May, 2015

Tulsa People, March, 2016

 

www.littlefreelibrary.org

 

Jonathan Bennett

By Clara Nipper

So I’m an atheist. I don’t know how or why I was born and it doesn’t matter. But when I die, if there’s some sort of science-based chemical reaction where we all queue up again for another turn at life on earth, you can bet I’ll be in the bathroom smoking a fatty. I never, ever, ever want to come back here. Why? Because of love. Because love is a no limit credit card. Its bill almost kills you (death would be kinder) when it comes due. Death is the bill. And death always gets paid. Let me be clear: I don’t see death as an enemy. It is a tender mercy and a necessary release. I just dread the pain that comes with it.

Perhaps for you, this is no problem. Good. But for me, I’m a huge-hearted child who is bursting with too much love to give and no filters or cautions. Some examples: I love wildlife, so I dedicated my entire front and back yards to them; I can’t bear to cut flowers, so they stay put on the plants; I gently carry every spider outside, thanking her for her work and telling her she’s welcome and safe here; I invite wasps to nest anywhere they wish; I encourage bats, raccoons and especially snakes. On a recent walk, I found a snake in the street and I rescued it and carried it home and released it to a hollow under a rock in my wildlife habitat. I apologize to ants if I squish them. I am a beginning beekeeper because I want to help bees and will certainly not harvest their honey. I am vegan because I can’t bear consuming animals or participating in their torture and suffering. I forbade our cleaning service to disturb a spider in the bathroom ceiling corner for weeks until she had hatched her young and died. I cry when a see a tree cut down; a dead squirrel, or a dog on a chain.

“Well, sure, that’s just super,” you say, “you are one terrific lady. But what do you do for humans?”

A few examples: I put money in plastic Easter eggs and label them ‘for whatever child finds this’ and I hide them in playgrounds and parks. I make sure to visit everyone I know who is in the hospital; I attend all funerals and I send sympathy notes and deliver food and staples like toilet paper, plates, cups, and flatware. I give housewarming gifts; I send non-traditional Valentines every year to all those I love because I believe that if we’re going to have a fictional holiday like Valentine’s Day, it should be about all love, not just romantic. I write thank you notes for absolutely everything. Everyone works hard, life is a struggle and we are all doing our best, and a thank you note acknowledges that effort. If someone is home bound, I deliver food, do laundry, and run errands. For my last birthday, I withdrew a lot of cash and Kris and I drove around looking for the saddest cars and we anonymously tucked envelopes of cash under the wipers. When I’m out walking, I leave love notes in public places for anyone to find. I make desserts almost constantly so when someone new moves to the hood or goes through a hard time or has a birthday or provides superlative service, I make sure they are overwhelmed with a supply of truffles, cookies, or lemon pound cake.

I know it’s possible to hold love in your heart and never move. That’s powerful too. But for me, love is service. Love is action. Love is seeing the unspoken needs and filling them eagerly. And it doesn’t matter if I’m a fierce and ferocious medical caregiver for Kris before, during, and after surgeries or if I’m leaving a gratuity for the garbage men. It’s all from the same root and flow.

Life is full of such beauty and happiness; I grieve for all that aren’t experiencing it. I feel they are all me and I don’t want to hurt. I don’t need to go into gruesome, shocking detail, but like you, I have already had two lifetimes of hurt and I’m done. I am the tree, the spider, the bee and I want us all to be happy. I am filled with gratitude and wonder every moment and always seeking new opportunities to love; and without effort, I am surrounded by amazing people who love me. I’m lousy with love.

I regularly remind my spouse, Kris that I married her with our first kiss twenty years ago and that has stayed true every minute of every year since. I love her without limit or reservation and if she dies before me, I will join her one way or another in twenty-four hours.

A few years ago, when roller derby seduced and filled me with insatiable passion, I shocked myself repeatedly by finding no limit on what I would do in service of my derbylove. No limit. Think about that before you read on. My motto was “anything for the team.” Yes, I would’ve done sex work if it had benefitted derby. I only wish I believed in Satan so that I might’ve conjured him and made a helluva derby deal.

When I love, I’m all in. Nothing held back. And when death comes for that kind of love, it’s completely devastating. I don’t know about you, but I despise mental anguish and emotional pain and never ending despair as a result of loss.

I can sound just as sage and wise and peaceful as the bodhisattva next door, believe me. “Grief is a gift; honor your process; love never dies; death is a natural part of life and should be welcomed and embraced and yes, even loved.” But truthfully, I would rather be a robot than endure the nuclear meltdown of grief. Any grief. Yes, I want to cherry pick my experience and take only the joy and bliss of giving and receiving love and none of the heartbreak and hassle.

But then, there were cats.20160324_202920

I was determined to begin skating to work, so when Kris told me to be safe as I put on my helmet and soared away, I saw fear in her eyes. Halfway there, resting at the top of an entire range of Olympian hills, I seriously questioned my sanity. After I completed the journey and called Kris from my desk, I asked, “Am I actually crazy?”

“Yes.”

“No, really, I’m not kidding.”

“I know and yes.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes.”

So multiply that by a squillion to reach the level of devotion I heap on cats. And every time one of the relatively short-lived beloved bastards dies decades too soon (in my opinion), I swear never again.

20160324_203343  As I write this, I’m on our bed, which has been transformed into a sick bed for our gravely ill cat named Jonathan Bennett. He has a potentially fatal virus and my life has been dedicated to acute nursing, home vetting, trips to the doc, and worrying for the past forty-eight hours. He’s on our bed because it has the best view, birdfeeders close by, the finest sunshine and is cloud plush soft.

Sh, he’s finally sleeping. After repeated vomiting, diarrhea, coughing fits, fever, dehydration, refusal to eat, and losing two pounds in two days, we all need the rest. And Bennett isn’t your average cat-he adores people. Our entire neighborhood is upset that he is sick and have been giving continual comfort and support.

20160324_124958   Bennett has been christened, “The Mayor of Brookside” because he’s such an enthusiastic, charming, goofy, dude cat. We adopted him as a kitten from a shelter where the previous owners had abandoned him and committed the unforgivable sin of naming him Garfield (Bennett is as orange as they come). So here I am, caressing Bennett as the sun sets and the birds sing and eat, and I’m caught by the short hairs again by that sneaky temptress love.

I am not sure how to end this, except to say surrender. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway. Love, unlike that rock and roll music and these gadgets called computers, isn’t a passing fad.

Kris sat with me this afternoon as I mixed potions, assembled injections, and loaded a syringe with emergency care cat food and I snapped, “This is your future if you get sick.” She smiled at me and that radiance reminded me that it is worth it. Love wins. Well-played.IMG_20160324_115018

So I don’t know what tomorrow will bring: tears, rage and despair or joy, gratitude and relief. I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s all love.

Time for the rehydrating IV and another syringe feeding.

 

The End

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.

On age and living

 

BY LAYDIN MICHAELS

ForsakenHappy New Year everyone. I hope this finds you raring to go into a new year of reading. For me, it has been a busy holiday season. December kicked off with the release of my first novel, Forsaken. I wrote about it here last month. It was exciting to finally have my own work out there in the vast world of lesbian fiction. Reality hit home when I realized I had not one, but two deadlines fast approaching as we neared the spin cycle of the year’s end. My second novel, Bitter Root, coming your way this summer, was back to me for the first round of edits, and the first draft of Buried Heart was due to my publisher.

Now I’ve been known to function well under pressure, but that was a bit much for anyone. With hang-dog expression and wringing of hands, I went to my publisher and asked for an extension. I was pleasantly surprised to be granted a nice four month extension on the first draft, yay! This meant I didn’t have to spend every minute at the computer, and was able to really enjoy family time during the holidays.

Our family gathering was smaller than usual for Christmas, but was so much fun. We had our traditional night before dinner of shrimp creole, ham and all the fixings. The grands, both niece and nephew were as cute as could be dressed as elves, handing out gifts. Watching with a smile so big it hurt, it dawned on me that I was now part of the senior generation in my uberfam. This is what I mean, I spent my entire life as “one of the little kids”. We self-divided our sibling herd into bigs and littles at some point. Being third from the end meant the label never disappeared. This was a great asset in helping me live young. My place had always been with my brothers’ and sisters’ children, where I got to be one of the oldest.IMG_8760

Now I looked around at the three brothers and two sisters who were at the festivities and realized they weren’t just the big kids, they were the oldsters. They were, for the most part white haired and frail. They had turned into old aunts and uncles. The shock was palpable. The nieces and nephews I used to run around with were the parents of teenagers and the babies I took care of were parents of babies. Ouch. It happened so suddenly, by my reckoning. I’m still a kid, in my mind. Where did my brothers and sisters go, and who are those old people?

IMG_7320Then I looked at my wife, smiling and laughing at the antics of the kids and I realized that it’s not how old the body is, it’s the age of the spirit and the youth of the heart that matter. Staying young isn’t so much about the body as the mind. My dad, who left us in 2011 at age 87, was never old. His heart was young, his spirit, undaunted by time. He left us a great blueprint to a happy life. Just feel. Live a lot, laugh a lot, love a lot. And that’s what I’m doing. Have a great 2016 and keep on reading. It keeps you young.

 


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