29 June 2012

Balancing Act

While I was sitting on my couch, trying to think up a post for today, I found myself literally laughing out loud along with one of my favorite TV decorators, Nate Berkus. I (and probably the majority of women who watch his show) absolutely adore Nate. He’s handsome (albeit a little short, but hey, so am I!), charming, sweet, knows his decorating and is absolutely hilarious. What’s not to love?

It’s incidental to me that Nate is gay. He’s not flamboyant a la RuPaul, but he’s certainly not in the closet. What made me LOL today was some banter between him and a guest chef on his show. When Nate asked the chef why the little cakes were called ladyfingers, he was told it was because they were delicate and feminine. Nate retorted they looked more like his own fingers, and roared with laughter when the chef said, “I rest my case.”

I’m in the process of writing my first M/M romance, and while Nate isn’t the inspiration for either of the characters, I’m trying to capture the same sense of insouciance he projects about his sexuality and display it in both my heroes. They don’t live in our world, so I didn’t have to deal with real life issues such as coming out and the stigma that can still be attached to being gay. One hero is bi, the other has always been gay. Yet, even without the restrictions of potential social stigma this book is possibly the most difficult I’ve ever written.

That’s my own fault. I have a vision of these two men—both strong, both determined—and want to keep them that way while still showing their vulnerabilities. Neither of them is suited to be what I sometimes think of as the “softer” partner I often read in M/M books. Yet I find it helpful to remember how I handled a similar situation when writing What the Mistress Did, which started out as a prospective ménage with a bit of revenge thrown in and turned into a love story between the two women. Neither of them was weak, although the balance of power seemed to favor one over the other at the beginning. It was a matter of discerning where they were strong and where they were weak, and allowing them to act according to those parameters in each situation that arose.

That’s what I’m trying to do with my two guys too, and only my editor will be able to tell me whether I’ve gotten it right or not. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ve grown to love them dearly and I hope others get a chance to meet and love them too!

28 June 2012

What Is Normal?

I confess. I'm a very white girl. I'm what people would tag as "the norm."

And yet I write about characters of various races, sexual preferences who grew up in places that I can only imagine.

Why do my books have these characters?

The basic answer is that my stories would be pretty boring if everyone were like me and had my background.

But the second is the stronger reason.  Just because I'm a straight white girl, it doesn't follow that the rest of the world is like me. I hear people complain about LGBT characters in stories being "shoved in" or "pushed in for diversity" or even "unrealistic."

We live in a diverse world. LGBT are part of society, they always have been.

What could be more unrealistic than excluding people on the basis of sexual preference?

It's time we as a society stopped thinking of straight white male (or female) as the default.

When I create a world, I ask myself about all the kinds of people who will be in it. This was especially true of my alternate history Seneca series, which is set in a world where the Roman Empire survived to colonize New England in circa 900 A.D. and the Roman colonists co-exist uneasily with immigrant Vikings and the Native American tribes of that time period. There are three stories, Freya's Gift, an erotic novella, Dinah of Seneca, and Eagle of Seneca.

Partially, I choose the Romans because they were fun and I was inspired by Arthurian stories to create a world when the old ways (the Romans) are falling apart to yield to new native cultures in Britain, cultures that are also then threatened by invaders from overseas.

But, more, because the Romans in my world became such a diverse set of people that it naturally led to diversity in race and in sexual orientation. And the North American Native American tribes, as far as can be determined from the little the European settlers left for us to study, had very different attitudes about sexuality and the difference between men and women than we do in modern times.

Take a character, Tabor, that keeps coming back to me from the Seneca series, so much so that he's going to be featured in an upcoming comic story I'm writing. Tabor is the Roman General charged with keeping order on the frontier. He's in exile, saddled with an incompetent ally, and trying to protect the person he loves from getting caught in the middle of a war. That this person is a man is just part of who Tabor is. He's one of those intense characters who showed up fully formed and, probably because I haven't written his story save in bits and pieces, won't leave my brain. But he's there and he's such a strong presence in both the Seneca books that it was difficult to keep him from stealing the spotlight from my leads.

In my second full-length Seneca book, I wanted to give the point of view of the Native American tribes, since the first story is only seen through the experiences of the Romans and the Vikings. In Eagle of Seneca, I had the opportunity to include a character who's the shaman of the clan living on ancient Manhattan. Her name is Deep Water and she's revered as being in perfect balance between her feminine and masculine sides. She identifies as a woman but has the physical equipment of a man. And if research is to be believed, she is as realistic as the heroine of the story, a young Lenape woman who is due to inherit the leadership of her tribe or the hero, a Roman engineer.

So my question to those who ask why these types of characters are in my stories or why a Native American is a lead character or why there's a gay Roman General or why a trans character, I tell them "why shouldn't there be?"

The movies and television and books out there that don't include diversity?

Ask them why not.

27 June 2012


At long last, school is over for another year. This was my first year full time teaching, and while I love my job, it is equally nice to be able to get up to the chirping of birds and not the blaring of the alarm clock, and have my coffee while sitting in my loft and writing for however long I wish.

It might get old by August. But I doubt it. I have at least three projects on the table right now -- a short story and two novels. Plus my final project for Grad School. And a 9 year old boy to entertain with day trips and whatnot.

Summer will fly by.

Meanwhile, I DO have a new book out. Please buy it, Like it, add it to your Goodreads to-read list. I'm doing a Goodreads giveaway for two signed copies. So on top of writing new material I have to promote the new title. No rest for the wicked.

But I'm going to pass on some writing advice I got from Kate DiCamillo recently. She was the keynote speaker for the NJSCBWI conference, which I attended AND was on faculty (doing a workshop on Worldbuilding, which you can see here, if you really want to know). It is an AWESOME conference, and I have made many friends and networked with some of the names in NYC publishing to the point where we hug and kiss when we see each other and know each other by name. One of my favorite events of the entire year. Anyway, Kate said she only writes two pages a day. That's all. She gets to the end of the second page and stops. Now, I don't know if that's two pages per project, or just two pages, but however she gets it done, the Great Kate is getting it done, and so I will take her advice. I have been trying all week to write just two pages.

I am working my way up to it. Just two pages, some days, is hard.

Have a great summer!

26 June 2012

Interview with Ally Blue

Please welcome Ally Blue, Rainbow Award nominated author of m/m romantic fiction. Thank you for agreeing to be grilled interviewed for the BtV blog's Loud and Proud: LGBT Characters theme month.

My pleasure! I love grilling. As long as someone else is doing it. Heh.

 What is it about m/m stories that drew you to writing m/m romance?

Like a lot of readers of gay romance, I cut my teeth on reading slash fanfic. I started reading that because it was different, it was intriguing, and it was hot. At least when it was well written, LOL.

However, the thing that kept me reading on into original character fiction – and what drew me to writing it as well – was more than that. I found myself fascinated with the dynamic between two men in a romantic relationship.

It’s so different from the dynamic between a man and a woman. I’m not talking about power or equality here, though there’s always an element of that in any male/female relationship in our society, even in fiction (and I’m not getting into that here because no one wants to hear me preach from my soapbox, ha). You can have plenty of inequalities for one reason or another between two men, and there will be power struggles more often than not, I guess.

The difference in dynamic is because men simply interact with one another in a different way from how they interact with women. That’s interesting to me, and I like to explore it. Plus there’s the factor of the unknown and unknowable. I’m biologically female and I identify female as my gender, therefore I can never be involved in a gay male relationship. This makes that relationship the most fascinating one in the world to me. It’s simple human nature.  

Other than the H&H both being male, would you consider your stories to be traditional romance? I guess what I'm getting at is, with the moving target called "erotic", would you consider your books erotic by today's yardstick?

Not really, no. Some of my older ones are erotic by anyone’s standards, since they have a lot of sex scenes, but they’re all pretty vanilla, I think. I don’t do BDSM or D/s or any of that stuff which is so popular now. A few of my guys have dabbled with some toys, but they’re really just playing, not invested in any hardcore lifestyle. There was one three-way in Love’s Evolution and a pretty intense episode with plants in Fireflies but mostly my boys just do it the old-fashioned way, even when they do it a lot. LOL.  

A common complaint I hear about m/m romance is that authors take a female character and simply change her feminine name to masculine, and call it m/m. How do you "keep it real", and do you think this is a core reason why readers love your work?

 I always start by considering my characters as people, not just gay men. They have backgrounds – parents, extended families, childhood and teen experiences that shaped them, etc. They have jobs, favorite colors, music they love, bad habits, particular ways they dress, pet peeves, personal values and morals, strong opinions. They’re talented at some things and terrible at others. They have personalities of their own that develop more and more as I outline the story, and even more as I write it.

 I think when a character doesn’t come alive, it’s because an author sees that character as a character, not a person. No one is going to care about your hero if he’s just a generic gay man you stuck in the lead role for the sole purpose of being a gay man in a book. He has to be real, which means being a gay man is only a small part of who he is. I like to think my guys are pretty real, and that’s why those who love my books love them. I have a lot of fans who are gay men, which makes me very happy.

As the mother of a newly minted RN, I know how much self-discipline it takes to get through nursing school. Does your nursing background carry over into your writing M.O.? What's a typical writing day like?

Man, I wish self-discipline spilled over into my writing life. Sadly, it doesn’t as much as it should. I graduated nursing school almost 25 years ago, which was B.C. for me (Before Children), when I was marginally more organized than I am now and had WAY more free time. LOL. These days, I have no “typical” writing day. It all depends on what else is going on. I work part-time, which is awesome because I have a lot more time to write than I did when I had to work full-time.

On work days, I write when I get home. Unless it’s one of those 10 or 11 hour days, in which case my brain is usually fried and I just fall on the couch and watch TV like a total slug. I never know what kind of day it’s going to be, which is fine because I get paid by the hour. :D On my off days, I check my email, Twitter, etc. then try to get some writing done while I’m having coffee and breakfast. After that I go for a run – I’m training for a half-marathon in September, yikes! Wish me luck! – then get back to writing unless I have other things that need doing.

My goal is always between 1K and 2K words per day, so that if I get more than that I’ll feel really good about myself, LOL. Sometimes I make the goal and sometimes I go over. If I have other obligations, I might not make the goal. Like the last month, when I had one kid graduate college and the other graduate high school. I’ve either been out of town or had family at my house almost constantly, which has put me WAY behind, but it was all for a good cause.

Congratulations to your new RN! That’s wonderful! We need more dedicated nurses.

Thank you! And good luck with the half marathon! Which comes first for you when it comes to inspiration for stories – does a character pop into your head? Or a place that compels you to set a story there? Or a situation you hear or read about that sets off the "what if" domino effect?

It’s happened to me in all of those ways, and others. Probably characters come to me first more often than anything else, but I’ve been inspired by places and situations lots of times. The Happy Onion was actually inspired by a cartoon on the back of a grocery store delivery truck. LOL.  

Though writing is essentially a solitary profession, we do seem to find our "herd". Where do m/m authors and readers congregate? Are there specific conferences that are good places to go to meet and connect?

Oh man. I don’t get to go to nearly the number of conferences I’d like, so I’m not positive about most of them. But GayRomLit is probably THE gay romance con to hit. In fact it might be the only one, I’m not sure. This year will only be its second year, but after the kickoff in New Orleans in 2011 it’s already gained a reputation as the best conference for gay romance authors and readers to gather to hang out, talk, play and generally raise hell. Heh.

This year’s con is in Albuquerque. I didn’t make it last year, but I’ll be there this year, yay! I think the m/m crowd manages to find each other at any conference, though, simply because we’re usually in the minority. We tend to make plans pre-con to get together for drinks or dinner or whatever. Usually drinks. :)  

How has writing m/m changed your own relationships with the men in your life?

I think that simply meeting and hanging out with so many more gay men than before gives me more patience with my men (husband, son, dad, friends, etc.) because I’ve gained more insight into some of the things they do and say. My gay friends tend to be more like me than any of the other men in my life – that is, they say what they think, they don’t hold back, they tell the whole truth. They talk to me, in other words, which is something it’s difficult to get some other men to do.

 Of course I can’t extrapolate that behavior onto all gay men, any more than I can say all straight men like comic books just because my husband does. But I like being able to talk openly with my friends, and I’ve been able to figure out a surprising amount about the other men I love from those conversations. Which is awesome.

 Has it affected your own sexuality?

Ha, interesting question! No, it hasn’t. Which is not to say I haven’t learned some fascinating things about the range and scope of human sexuality, because I have. I’ve met many people who identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, pansexual, and other “nontraditional” sexualities. I feel like my life is much richer for having met so many wonderful people who are so different from me in their sexuality, and realizing first hand that we’re all pretty much the same tough, tender, loving, vulnerable human beings inside.  

Would you consider writing a f/f romance?

I would if I thought I could write one that wasn’t crap, but I seriously doubt I could. I’ve tried writing female leads before and they come off sounding like men. Which is maybe a little weird, but there you go. LOL. That’s why I don’t write m/f romance also. I can’t write a realistic female romantic lead! That seriously annoys me about myself.  

I am a native Tarheel living in "exile" in Ohio, so I envy your location in the western NC mountains! Do you find that living in what many consider the "Bible Belt" makes it more difficult to be "loud and proud' about writing in the LGBT genre?

Oh, definitely, yes. Not so much because of the public in general. I live close to Asheville, which is pretty much a shining liberal jewel in a dark conservative sea, and Buncombe County is one of the ones where the populace voted against the notorious Amendment One. But I have to keep my writing under wraps because there’s no guarantee I wouldn’t get fired from my day job if they found out about it. They can fire an employee for any outside activity that, in their sole opinion, reflects poorly on the organization.

I don’t know for sure that I’d get fired for writing gay romance, but I’m not betting my income on it. I don’t make nearly enough from writing to support just myself, never mind my whole family. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t help thinking this wouldn’t be an issue in a more generally open-minded area.  

What's next in the publishing pipeline for you?

Graceland releases from Samhain on July 3rd, and Demon Dog, the first book in my brand-new Mojo Mysteries series, is scheduled for release from Samhain in December. Aside from that, I’m working on one – still untitled at this point – that should release from MLR Press in October if I can manage to finish it in time. We shall see. O_O

After that I promised my Samhain editor, the lovely and magnificent Sasha Knight, that I’d whip up a proposal for an urban fantasy. Well, my take on it anyway. I have an idea I really, really like and am anxious to start working on.  

Now for the important question. Eastern or Western NC barbecue?

LOL. I really prefer Western. Always have. So delightfully saucy and spicy!  

Thank you for joining us, Ally!

Thanks for having me, it’s been fun :)
Visit Ally's web site at www.allyblue.com


Carolan Ivey

25 June 2012

LGBTQ in Books and on Screen

Okay, I'm going to just come out and say it.

I'm not gay.
I write heterosexual romances.
I am no expert in this subject.


I do know a lot about love.
I have been loved by some of the greatest people in the history of the world. My family, friends, my Lord, my honey and my kids have taught me what it is to be truly cherished. I use what I know to write.

I also know, that everyone wants to be loved. It's like breathing and food. We can't live without it, at least, not for long. Finding that special someone is rare and beautiful and shouldn't be dismissed or taken lightly. Don't let anyone tell you who you should love.

One of my favorite lines from the movie Princess Bride was, "This is true love. Do you think it comes along every day?"

I look forward to the day when love is love. It won't matter who you are, what you look like, or where you live. Deeply caring for others matters. Opening your heart to others is important for the soul.

Love is a gift. Use wisely.


24 June 2012

Love is Where You Find It

As a newby to Beyond the Veil, this first post is intimidating. Here I am, surrounded by interesting, smart people, all plugged in and wanting to have meaningful discussions about important stuff. I have an extremely curious mind and try to keep up-to-date on what’s going on around the world, but I’ll be honest and admit I’m often behind on pop culture. Looking at this month’s topic I wondered what I could contribute, then decided to just jump in. After all, this is a subject I happen to have very decided views on.

Perhaps I’m showing my age, but I remember watching the Star Trek, The Next Generation episode, The Host, which first aired in 1991. In that episode Dr. Beverly Crusher falls in love with the Trill negotiator Odan, not knowing the intellect and personality she loves belongs to a symbiotic life form—the outer shell is just a host. When the host body is fatally injured, Riker carries Odan for a while, and then the Trill send a new host, a woman. I was unreasonably and totally disappointed when Dr. Crusher couldn’t get her head around the fact it was still Odan, irrespective of the outer wrapping. I’d have liked to have seen her accept that love where she found it, recognizing although the universe is a huge place, true and abiding love is rare.

Intellectually I know the producers probably couldn’t afford to have her take that path—not at that time anyway. Equally if she were a real person, in a real situation, I’d shrug and say, “She’s straight,” and leave it at that. Yet there’s a cliché I happen to believe is true—love is love. And I wish that could have been illustrated through the medium of television way back then.

This is a hard-won attitude. I come from an extremely homophobic country. When I was young ‘same-sex couple’ wasn’t an expression I’d even heard. As I got into my teens and began to understand, the civility of our society was deteriorating and it wasn’t unusual for performers to call for the death of “batty-men”, and for homosexuals to be beaten, sometimes fatally. They were relegated to the shadows, few daring to be themselves. Yet somehow, and I honestly don’t know how, I instinctively didn’t buy into the prevailing atmosphere. I couldn’t honestly judge a fellow human being for their sexuality.

I had friends I knew probably were gay but they had to pretend and, in the guys’ cases, chase the girls so as to “fit in.” Deny themselves so as not to be hurt, in some cases by their own family members. I’m so happy that most of them left the island and were able to freely be themselves. I left too, and I’m proud to now live in a country where same-sex marriages are accepted, where if one of my kids were gay or lesbian it wouldn’t mean they’d be ostracized or have to call their lover their “roommate” or “friend.”

This is a great time to believe in love, to be writing about it, feeling it, recognizing it when it comes our way. We’re not all the way there yet, but we’ve come so far and I, for one, am grateful.

20 June 2012


So, I'm new. Sort of. I was with Beyond the Veil when it first started, and I left for Real Life reasons. I'm finally finding time to write again, and to blog, too. (At least, on a once-a-month schedule, which makes BtV a perfect fit! :) )

And this month's theme seemed like fate. Since I started writing again, I've been finding myself with characters with an assortment of sexualities, even as I've begun to really understand my own.

No. I'm not going to talk about my sexuality on my first post. Maybe after we've had a few drinks together, k? :)

But still, the timing was pretty cool. Especially as my life in the past two years has made me much more aware of the things I've absorbed from my culture (heteronormativity, white-bias, gender-biases...). And I was determined to be a better activist. A better feminist.

And then my latest work in progress veered left on me (again) and my female characters revealed they were going to fall in love. With each other. But...but I had plans for them! They were going to fall for MEN. I even had them picked out!

And it dawned on me in that moment that I was falling for the same heteronormative crap that I wanted to fight against. That even though I've been reading m/m and (when I can find it) f/f - I was still wired to write m/f.

Once I faced that, and admitted that I've got these predispositions that run counter to my own beliefs, the story got its legs. The man I was going to pair Meg up with...was a male version of her heroine. And I got to really look at what I was writing and I realized a host of other biases that I was playing into - my characters were all white. I'd crossed classes, at least! But there were all my other privileges staring at me from the page.

I tossed them all out the window. The story is so much better for it. I have diversity. I have deeper, more meaningful characters. I have a lot more conflict. And I'm writing a book I can be excited about. A book I can be proud of. It features strong women. "Alternative" sexualities. (And for once I can use that term un-ironically, because it was an alternative and I chose it (or at least chose to run with it when my characters presented it to me.) I'm writing an interracial couple! (which scares me because I want to do it justice.)

And I'm finally doing all the things I think I should as a writer - I'm shaking people out of their complacency and challenging their beliefs.

Some of them just happen to be my own.

11 June 2012

A Moment to Crow

I'm just taking a moment today to crow about a surprise that still has me tickled every time I think about it or look at this picture:
Samhain took out an ad on a jumbotron in Times Square and this is the second panel of the ad. Notice that book cover all the way to the right? Yup, that's my latest hot paranormal romance, WOLF HILLS!

My birthday was last week and since I had no idea Samhain planned to do this, it sure feels like the Best. Birthday. Present. EVER! :D

Hope you don't mind a little squeeing. I did a happy dance when I saw this and I'm still grinning!

Now back to our regularly scheduled program...

10 June 2012

*Whew* Boy!

I can't believe it's June already. The year has just been flying by, but I've been really looking forward to June because my family and I are making a cross country trip for my sister-in-law's wedding. I've never been to Alberta or any of the western provinces. Heck, I haven't even been west of Sudbury, but this summer that's all going to change.

We're driving through the lovely states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota (*SQUEE huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan here*), Wyoming and Montana before heading back into Canada. The way home I'll see Saskatchewan, Manitoba and FINALLY Thunder Bay, Ontario.

We're going to be gone a month! WOOT!

Stoked? You bet I am, but it also means major packing and I haven't the brain capacity for anything other than lists and my deadlines.

Fear not. In July I've invited a guest to take my place on July 8th. :) My crit partner Anya Richards (*kisses her feet*).

August, I'll have to share some pictures of the ghost towns, which we're planning on visiting.

I know this month our theme is LGBT, so I'll leave you with one of my FAVOURITE LGBT fictional couples EVAH!!

Oh and just because Captain Jack Harkness is SUCH a tease, here's another:

Poor Ianto!

See you in August! 

08 June 2012

Loud and Proud: LGBTQ

I posted yesterday for my "regular" day, but Mr. Bradbury's passing took precedence.  Fellow author Sela Carsen asked for someone to take her day today, and I agreed.  Thank you, Sela, for giving me the opportunity to write my thoughts on our theme for June - Loud and Proud!

I remember my first time. Omni Magazine. The image: The lover, alone, lying in bed with her hands still perfumed with her lover’s scent. I read a bit before I realized both were female. The shock that hit me surprises me now. How naïve could I have been?

“Dyke.” “Lesbo.” “Tuna-melt.” “Skank.” The words are many. The hatred and vitriol return to my memory like creosote comes to the surface of a board, foul and noxious, and sticky. So sticky. Back then, Mia Hamm hadn’t made it big. “Women in comfortable shoes” was the nicest metaphor in the public eye and at that, it wasn’t very nice. In small-town California, no one was out. No one was proud. And when you out-threw a varsity boy in discus, it wasn’t forgiven. Not by a long shot.

When I came out as bi (I still don’t like the word “bisexual” even today) in college, both sides gave me grief. My straight friends wondered whether I’d hit on them. “You know I support you right? Just don’t hit on me.” Like bi people have less self-control than het folks do. My gay friends accused me to being on the fence. “You’re just playing it safe.” My ex-girlfriend, dating a new dom girlfriend, asked me at dinner – in front of my then-boyfriend – “Why don’t you just admit you’re a lesbian?”

A couple years ago I marched in the Chicago Gay Pride Parade with a group of Pagan Gay Pride supporters. I’ve been in the closet since moving here, since I work in the Midwest in a conservative field, but I wanted to show my support for “my” people and to experience one of the nation’s largest parades. The Bisexual Union had… thirteen people in attendance. Out of several thousand. They were the only out bisexuals I could find.

The first book I read with a lesbian theme, Rubyfruit Jungle, didn’t titillate me as much as I wanted. The next one, a strange story about a woman who meets her lover while in prison and then, upon getting her liberty back, can’t decide if she’s gay and realizes she misses being dominated, didn’t do it for me. These weren’t “normal” people with “normal” concerns. The fact of their lesbian-ness took center stage to the story and became the story, in many ways. That’s not good storytelling, that’s polemicizing.

Then I found Mercedes Lackey’s Vanyel stories. A friend of a lover recommended it to me when she found out I was bisexual. It was the first time someone respected me enough as bi to not ask a bazillion questions and to not make me feel like the only giraffe in the Antarctic section of the zoo. I devoured Lackey’s stories and realized that they are fully-realized fantasy novels about characters, and that the characters just happen to be gay. It wasn’t flag-waving, it wasn’t “in-your-face,” it just was a fact. Vanyel has black hair and silver eyes, and he’s gay. It is central to his coming-of-age, but it’s a coming-of-age story – not a story about a gay guy who comes of age. The distinction is telling.

Now, in 2012, the debate over “lifestyle choice” has become a darling of the national media. Folks pontificate about what other folks should or should not do in their own bedrooms, waxing poetical about what religion and a punitive god have to say about the subject. Other, more moderate folks – on both sides of the line – keep quiet so as to avoid an uncomfortable topic. As we did in the 60’s with interracial marriage, we are obsessed with what two consenting adults want to do with their lives together, as though this somehow has a seminal effect on our own lives.

I still live mostly in the closet, for my own safety and out of fear. Some genies you cannot put back in the box. I write, however, from a very out perspective. When I am in my writing-brain, I allow myself the freedom to BE myself, completely and totally. I blog about being bi, poly, Wiccan, a textile addict, a cat and dog lover, all the things that make me Noony. But I am not yet Noony in my day-to-day life.

Slowly, that’s changing. But society isn’t yet ready to embrace itself. When we can still have national dialog about “gosh, did you realize we have a Black president” as though being Black is more important than whether he can do the job (which he can, and has proven himself capable of doing), when we become obsessed over whether two adults of the same sex can marry and share a legal contract the same as het folks, when we can still seriously discuss whether a woman’s body is her own to do with as she chooses, we do not live in an open and safe, out and loud and proud society. And because I have to live in that society, and make a living in it, I am not nearly as loud, proud, or out as I want to be.

My hope for my children is that they do not have to think on these things and that, one day when they are my age, they will look back on this time and say, “You mean gay people weren’t allowed to get married back then?” the same way we ask a similar question now: “You mean a black man and a white woman couldn’t get married back then?”

07 June 2012

Requiem for a Master

Rather than write to the theme for this month, I wanted to take a moment and mourn the loss of one of our generation's literati.  Granted, Ray Bradbury is not Generation X, but he is someone alive while I am alive and he wrote works that changed my life.  His career spanned more than 70 years - longer than some people get to live on this plane.

I remember reading The Martian Chronicles for the first time. The idea of everyday suburbia in space caught fire in my mind. I wasn’t new to the idea of space travel, having seen Star Wars at a young age, but life on a spaceship and life in a house made out of ticky-tacky where they all look the same* opened a window in my mind.  I think that, more than anything else, brought the magic home to me in a way that let me know that "write what you know" didn't have to limit you to your own backyard.

Mr. Bradbury created new stories well past the "typical" retirement age.  He never sat back on his laurels and said, "Yup, I've done it.  I've writ all I'm gonna write, told the stories I have to tell, I'm done, I quit."  He delighted audiences with his imagination and brought science home in ways that made it touchable, warm, living and real.

I wish that I had the skill of the pen the way he did, to do him justice in a eulogy.  I don't, but I don't think he'd mind.  He understood telling the story the way you see it, in plain language, without a lot of fuss and bother.

Mr. Bradbury, I will miss you.  You changed my life.  Travel well, my friend.  Until the next meeting.

*Malvena Reynolds, "Little Boxes"

02 June 2012

Definitely Loud, Definitely Proud

By some strange coincidence, I find myself kicking off two of BtV's monthly themes in a row.  This time it's "Loud and Proud: LGBTQ Characters, Themes and Plots on Page and Screen".  Unlike fan fiction, this is an odd fit for me.

Well, I'm definitely loud.  All of my friends and family would agree on that point. But I'm not Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans or Queer.  I've got friends who qualify in every category--some more than one--but I'm vanilla.  Even in my fanfic days, I didn't write m/m.  It wasn't that I didn't read it.  It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it.  In fact, some of the descriptive passages I read in those days were hot enough to melt steel, to say nothing of me.  But it just wasn't my area of expertise, so I didn't even try.

Until I did.  "Personal Demons", my contribution to the lesbian fantasy anthology Hellebore and Rue, recounts the story of a tantric sorceress and her lover dealing with demonic possession in contemporary Alexandria, Virginia.  I told the story behind the story when the anthology first reached the virtual shelves.  Even though the story behind the story had a happy ending, it showed that prejudice against LGBTQ characters remains, even in the "anything goes" world of science fiction and fantasy.

But support for LGBTQ fiction is strong and growing stronger among the reading public.  Hellebore and Rue soon made it to print and remains available in paper format, despite the shuttering of our original electronic publisher, Drollerie Press.

Furthermore, the anthology didn't just hang on.  It prospered, winning a 2011 Rainbow Award for Best Science Fiction and Anthology.  It was also named a 2011 American Library Association Over the Rainbow LGBT Book for Adult Readers--an honor shared by less than 75 books out of roughly one million books published in English each year.   To say nothing of more than a dozen reviews, with more appearing each month, a full year after the book's publication.

This tells me that things are getting better.  Every day people grow more accepting of and receptive to the fictional representation of alternate life styles.  Much as some pundits try to deny it, the real world follows fiction.  Life does imitate the good things in art--maybe not as closely or as often as we'd like.  But there's no denying it does, which gives me hope for our nonfiction future.  And something more.

As someone who fought the good fight for two LGBTQ characters, it makes me proud.  Most definitely proud.


Jean Marie Ward