Take My Hand

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“Take my hand.” A simple request with the power to change everything.

Artist Clay Cahill retreats to her hometown of Pine Cone, Georgia, when she’s betrayed by a woman she thought cared and the pressure of the New York City art world becomes too much. Setting paints aside, she takes a job at her grandfather’s garage seeking the restorative comfort of small town life where women are sweet and life flows as slow as molasses.

Manhattan art gallery owner River Hemsworth is preparing for a show when she’s informed her aunt has bequeathed her a local gallery in Pine Cone, a place where the idea of fashion is anything with a Carhart label. En route to review inventory and unload the property quickly, River wrecks and Clay comes to her rescue.

If River can convince Clay to start painting again, she may be able to pull off the show that will make her career and quench the desires she never expected to feel again.

Welcome to part one of the sweet, romantic adventures of Pine Cone, Georgia. I was super excited to write this trilogy with two of my favorite authors: VK Powell and D. Jackson Leigh

Trilogy wallpaper

 

Getting started

Isn’t that the hardest part sometimes? Just sitting down and putting the first lines on paper. I can’t seem to move forward until I get a first paragraph that I feel good about and the very first line needs to feel just right. I’ve realized that many of my books begin with taking a first step, crossing a threshold, which is usually a signal that things for the main character are about to change.

For my newest work in progress, Spencer’s Cove, there is no first step. There’s a cat, who has no concept of how much he weighs (18 lbs.) and a mystery to be solved… oh, and a painfully shy heiress.

Now, back to work on that first chapter.

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Provincetown schedule, see you there!

IMG_7336Here I am, in one of my signature plaid shirts, in front of Recovering Hearts preparing for a signing in 2015. This year, I’m aspiring to wear solids, but I might not pull it off.

Okay, so it was summer for like a minute, and then I blinked… and now it’s October. Which means… Women’s Week in Provincetown, Mass!

My first visit to this charming coastal village was in 2015 and I’m excited to be back this year to meet up with old friends and a few new ones. I’m doing a quick post here to share my signing and reading schedule:

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12TH:

2:00-3:00 PM @ GABRIEL’S: I’ll be moderating a panel titled “Out of This World.” Panelists include: CJ Birch, Jane C. Esther, M. Ullrich, Ali Vali, Brey Willows, and Barbara Ann Wright.

5:00-7:00 PM @ HARBOR LOUNGE / 102 BRADFORD STREET: Bold Strokes Books Meet ‘n’ Greet. All are welcome to attend.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13TH:

10:00-11:00 AM @ LIBRARY: Author Q&A: Genre, What Genre? Moderated by Melissa Brayden. Panelists include: Missouri Vaun (aka: me), Jean Copeland, Jackie D, M. Ullrich, Ali Vali, and Barbara Ann Wright.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14TH:

2:00-3:00 PM @ LIBRARY: Pivotal Moments, moderated by I. Beacham. Panelists include: Radclyffe, Missouri Vaun, Mickey Brent, Robyn Nyx, Aurora Rey, and Emily Smith.

3:45-4:15 PM @ RECOVERING HEARTS: I’ll be there signing books with Radclyffe, Aurora Rey, Mickey Brent, Robyn Nyx, and Emily Smith.

For more information about all these great authors check out the Bold Strokes Books website.

 

 

A Time for Vigilance

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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 End

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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.

#TheWritingLife