Hootenanny 2016 – Day 11

A copy of Valley of Fire is up for grabs. Happy holidays!

Women and Words

Day 11.jpg

My friends, welcome to day 11 of the 2016 Hootenanny, in which we pretty much pulled out a bunch of stops and flooded your world with as many books as we possibly could (and tried not to lose our minds in the process…we’re not sure that didn’t happen yet, so check back later).

I’ll be honest. This place is a wreck. LOL. The furniture is covered with tinsel, reindeer, elves, pizza boxes, eggnog cartons…omg. But it’s okay, because nobody really sleeps during the Hootenanny, so what’s the point of trying to lie down? The elves have busted out the Twister game again and that’s been going on for a while. The neighbors came by with more eggnog (that’s so nice) and a bucket of fried chicken. That, too, is a nice change but omg we’re sure it’s not doing us any good in terms of healthy livin’. But hey, it’s…

View original post 1,880 more words

A Time for Vigilance


Now, more than ever, is the time to show our love for one another, to stand up for common decency wherever we go and to create stories that celebrate our diversity.

Probably anyone who’s reading this blog post is still feeling wounded and in shock two days after the election. I live in California. I’m surrounded by people in shock. We can commiserate together. But I grew up in the Deep South, so I know the same support isn’t there for everyone. Those of us in safe zones have to reach out to those who aren’t. Those of us in safe zones have to speak out for those who can’t.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45

I spoke to a family member in Mississippi yesterday who voted for Trump. He assured me that everyone who voted for Trump isn’t racist, that their vote was simply about economics and voting for an outsider. My reply was simple. If Trump isn’t racist then he should stop saying racist things.

I’m working on a memoir project that has required me to have some in-depth conversations with my father about racial bullying that happened in Alabama, in the 1970s when I was growing up. I asked him how a parent explains racism to a kid. I thought he’d have some wise answer for me, but he just said, you can’t. He said that all you can do is set a good example, tell your kids to do the right thing and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

I keep seeing Facebook posts from people who are unfriending folks who voted for Trump. I think part of why this election took us by surprise is that too many of us insulate ourselves and our social media platforms with people who think just like we do. I’ve tried not to do that, even though some posts make me angry. They are a shocking glimpse sometimes into how people you thought you knew actually think.

I’ve discovered that the folks who make me angry because of hurtful words in their Facebook posts also believe that they’re saying these things in a vacuum. They think they’re only talking to others who agree with them. Most of them are friends who live in the South. When I go home, they seem happy to see me. We have dinner together and I do believe they genuinely like me. I believe we really are friends. And when I join their conversations on Facebook they’ll say that they weren’t talking about me. They were and I’m there to remind them that they do know someone in the LGBT community. Me.

I’ve found that if you jump into one of these conversations with anger it doesn’t work. I usually try to say something that’s rather quiet just to let them know I’m listening. Conversations with people who don’t agree with you are important. Genuine conversation can change minds and help us understand each other. It’s not easy, but it might be the only way.

I was thinking of all of this as I was driving to work this morning. On the way in I stopped at a Starbucks and there were two Latina women in line behind me. The woman closest to me looked visibly upset and was standing pretty far from me. From behind I’m sure I just looked like some random white guy so she probably didn’t want to stand too close. I asked her if I could buy her a coffee. Her face immediately brightened. I think she was shocked. I bought the woman next to her a coffee as well.

You always see that stupid bumper sticker that says practice random acts of kindness. I say let’s make that real.

A pumpkin spiced latte is not going to save the world, but it’s a start.

Now is the time for vigilance, my friends.

Now is the time to show everyone that love is stronger, for real.

The Adventures of Nash Wiley

Today marks the release of the first in a series of fun short stories featuring the likable, comical, perpetually searching, Nash Wiley. Four short stories will be delivered by Bold Strokes Books during the course of the next four months, including today’s release of Death By Cocktail Straw. Each narrative builds on the next until the last story in the series is released in February 2017.

Here’s a brief synopsis of each wild Nash Wiley adventure. Happy reading!

death-by-cocktail-strawDeath By Cocktail Straw
Release Date: November 1, 2016
How did a club night with friends go so off the rails? Nash’s day had started out so well. An adorable barista flirted with her as she picked up her morning espresso, which may have contributed to the distraction that moments later nearly ended in disaster. Nash had used the word “disaster” carelessly not realizing how far the rest of her day would spiral after her tragic morning commute. Picking up girls after midnight in an ER is a clear sign of desperation, right? Unless that girl is the enchanting nurse who keeps coming to her rescue.

one-more-reason-to-leave-orlandoOne More Reason to Leave Orlando
Release Date: December 1, 2016
Nash Wiley, aka: slow learner, discovers that hooking up with your sexy neighbor isn’t such a great idea, especially if you like your apartment and you’d like to keep living there. Having sex with both of your neighbors is an even worse idea, especially if those neighbors happen to be in a relationship… with each other. Threesomes always sounded so exotic and exciting in the abstract. As it turns out the reality of sleeping with two women at the same time is a lot more complicated. But it wasn’t like it was Nash’s idea and when the offer presented itself she found it impossible to say no.

smothered-and-coveredSmothered and Covered
Release Date: January 1, 2017
The last person Nash Wiley expected to bump into over a two a.m. breakfast at Waffle House was her college crush, decked out in a curve-hugging law enforcement uniform. Nash can’t believe her luck when Ms. Crush asks to join her, explaining that she’s just getting off shift. But something seems a little off. It could be the glitter in her eye shadow, or the black lace bra peeking from her barely buttoned uniform shirt, or maybe the exotic dancers who stroll in from the local gentleman’s club and crash their private reunion. Nash isn’t sure she’s still hungry until the waitress takes her order. “How you want those hash browns, hon?” Ms. Crush pins Nash with a sultry gaze and answers for her. “Mmm. I’ve heard she likes hers smothered and covered.”

privacy-glassPrivacy Glass
Release Date: February 1, 2017
As Nash Wiley entered the elegant Savannah Victorian and scanned the room she had one thought: this is one gay wedding that could really get out of hand. Only a lesbian would think it was a good idea to invite so many exes and then let them offer up toasts after drinking way too much white wine. But the evening turns even more surreal when Nash commandeers a stretch limo and Anna Hayes for a late night drive out to the beach and friendship turns into something more. Champagne on ice, seat belts optional and privacy glass a must.


The End


My wife Evelyn took this picture.

I finished the first draft of the manuscript for Crossing The Wide Forever today. Weighing in at just over 67,000 words it’s the longest story I’ve written to date.

There seems to be a moment about seventy-five percent into every book that I have written thus far where the whole thing stalls and I worry that I’ve gone off the rails and have no idea how it’s all going to come together. I lose sleep, I fret, I drive my wife Evelyn crazy recapping scenes in the story. (She says not, but I’m sure I do.)

With a fourth cup of coffee in hand, my writing playlist piping in through noise-cancelling headphones and the lights in my studio dim… I write the next 1,000 words. Because you just have to. You have to push through to the other side.

Four thousand words later I crawl into bed, exhausted, frustrated, and dream about the book. Scenes flash through my mind like I’m watching a movie. And then it happens. Somewhere between asleep and awake, at about four o’clock in the morning the whole thing comes together in my head. I can see it all the way through.

In the dark I get up and go downstairs to scribble all of it down on a giant yellow legal pad. My cat Otis is happy. He finally has somewhere to sit. (Cats and paper, what is that?)

I’ve also noticed that every time I finish a book, the minute I type the words “The end,” I’m euphoric. My head feels lighter. I can finally stop worrying about these characters that I’ve been living with for weeks. I’ve gotten them through to the end and they’re going to be okay.

Everyone gets what they need in the end, except me, because now I’m feeling sad. I begin missing those characters. They have more stories to tell.

I email the acquisitions editor Sandy at Bold Strokes Books and tell her I have a great idea for a sequel. Sandy is always kind in her correspondence, so she promptly replies and gently reminds me sequels don’t sell as well. Sigh.


Taking a Moment to Say Thanks

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer

I recently spent nearly a week in upstate New York with a group of my new best friends: writers, editors, proofreaders and even a lawyer or two. This group of women and a few fearless men are part of the Bold Strokes Books pack, of which Radclyffe is the ever-inspiring Alpha.

Radclyffe and Sandy

From left to right: Alpha Publisher, Radclyffe and Senior Editor Extraordinaire, Sandy Lowe.

Two years ago I attended my first Bold Strokes Books retreat as a newbie author. I was nervous about meeting writers I admired. My first lesbian romance, All Things Rise, had yet to be released so I had not even had a chance to really prove myself as a writer. Yet everyone at the retreat was incredibly welcoming and willing to share their experiences in the publishing world. I left that first retreat feeling like I’d just made a group of new pals for life. Since then I have found that this group stays connected, and that’s been just one incredible part of this whole writing experience.

And now, after retreat number two, I feel as if I’ve expanded my friend circle exponentially.

I assume most of us do this writing thing because we have a strong desire to tell stories, to create. We write because we love the craft of writing and we love connecting with other writers and readers. I think very few of us do the things we love for money. The royalty checks are the gravy.

I would like to dedicate this blog post to the community of writers, readers and editors I’ve met since I published my first book with Bold Strokes Books. My world is so much brighter with you in it.

Cindy-my editor.jpg

At the helm, my awesome editor, Cindy Cresap.

As the release date for book number five, Valley of Fire, quickly approaches I want to say thank you. Thank you, Bold Strokes Books family, for the late night encouragement via email and texts, beta reading support (Jenny and Deb!) and most of all, thank you to my editor and publisher for giving this writer a voice.

Oh, and added bonus, I came up with some good ideas for new novels while I was at the retreat. Can’t wait to get started on them!