Betcha Bottom Dollar
I need to get back to doing my blog regularly, at least once a month. There is so much going on and so little time. Strawberry season is over, and the farm's current focus is lettuce and our pepper varieties.
Once again it’s been a rainy spring and start to summer. I wish more than anything I could capture our excess and send it where it’s needed. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. My PCT, Positive CJ Thought for the day is this, even when the storms and rain seem like they will never stop, eventually the sun will shine through.
When I was little, my mom took a few friends and me to see the movie Annie, the spunky redheaded orphan who sang about Tomorrow. She sang about her belief that there was always a chance that tomorrow would be better than today or yesterday, that there were things to look forward to.
Last weekend, I literally was startled awake by a clap of thunder that sounded like the strike hit in our bedroom. My wife had been watching the storm for a while. For the next few hours, we saw lightning followed immediately by the boom, indicating the storm was right on top of us, and it poured.
It dropped over three and a half inches of rain on our farm before it was over.
All the small creeks, streams, and ditches in our area, flooded. One neighbor had nearly four feet of water in his basement. A friend in a neighboring town had a foot in her’s, so we spent Sunday helping her clean and dry out from the five and a half inches that fell in the county where I set the Five Points Series in. Neighboring towns were even worse.
So how in all of this destruction can I find anything positive? I find writing about the lives of lesbians in West Virginia, a bright spot of what tomorrow might bring.
I set my books in West Virginia because, beyond all the bad, there is the amazing as well. Great people, scenery, food, music, and recreational activities. AND low and behold… there are LGBTQIA people! I took this picture yesterday, right in downtown Thomas, West Virginia. This building is on the street where book 3 of the Five Points Series, Redemption's Road, is based.
In real life, there are dozens of people I regularly associated with that were in all sorts of occupations and domestic situations, and some who have gay parents. So this is my question, when we offer LESBIAN FICTION, why can we not make it more enjoyable by making the percentage of lesbians higher than might be in our real life? I understand that for it to be plausible, there has to be a certain amount of suspension of belief, but the general population never says there are not enough LGBTQIA people in a mainstream fiction book. Those of us in in the LGBTQIA world wish to see ourselves in the media, in every form.
When you read the series, you are going to meet many lesbians, some couples and some not. Chance and Jax, Taylor and Penny, Maggie and Dee, Sarah and Kristi, Faith and Theresa, Megan and Lindsey, Kendra, Dr. Amy, Harley Kincaid, and others are all through this series because-drum roll please- it's a lesbian fiction series. It is not a mainstream series with a token lesbian thrown in. This is no different than what a mainstream straight series book with the main characters being male and female with wives, girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends. In those books, they work with, are friends with, and even have family members that are straight. There are also straight couples and people talked about in those books. My point is, I’m writing lesbian fiction and lesbian romance, not heterosexual books. You guessed it, there will more lesbians than not.
My beloved home state is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and some have questioned my idyllic portrayal. Trust me, there are bigots, homophobes, white nationalists, and card-carrying MAGA supporters a plenty. I’ve seen comments that I make WV sound too perfect, that I don’t show the true conditions. I live here so I so see it, but I don’t want negativity to be the focus of my book. I've watched the drama play out in my state government and watched it splash across the national news as one legislator inferred that he would take his children swimming if one of them came out as gay and during a legislative work session said that the "LGBT is the modern day KKK.'' So please don't think I'm unaware of my home states ignorance. Take that for what you will. I also just watched the WV Republican Party Chair come out and support another legislator who eviscerated homosexuality and the tolerance there of.
Unless I completely make up a place that no one has ever been to, you are going to find that negativity. I don’t write science fiction, though if I did, maybe I’d get less criticism for the number of lesbians I put in. I could have an entire planet of lesbian and people wouldn't blink an eye.
I write HEA’s, and yes there is some drama. I refuse to be relegated to only two lesbians in the book because any more doesn’t seem authentic. I have gay friends, I have gay family, and all around me there are members of the community that I know are gay. So why is it not acceptable to have more than one couple in lesbian fiction? In mainstream fiction, the general public doesn’t cry foul when there isn’t a single LGBTQIA character written in, but put more than two lesbians in a booknand the screams from our own community start about it not being realistic. Why, in a lesbian fiction book, can we not suspend belief and allow for friends and family that are lesbians?
My main character, Chance, was not born to a set of lesbian parents but ends up there by circumstance when her father is killed. She has a sister that was taken in as a foster child, and yes, she happens to be gay. In my family, I have two male cousins and three female cousins that are gay or bisexual. I know others that have more than one gay sibling. Chance’s chief deputy is someone she chose from another department and asked to come to work with her. Would you choose to work with other lesbians you enjoyed being around if you could? What would it be like to have someone work with you that understands loving another woman? Chance certainly thinks so.
Now let's look at the percentage of lesbians that tend to go into nontraditional jobs, firefighting, law enforcement, or construction.
Even straight people tend to believe that people that take on those type jobs might be gay. In reality, a high percentage are. So, as I write a series based in law enforcement and emergency services, doesn’t it fall to reason that there would be a high percentage of lesbians in the story?
For me, the answer to that is simple. Yes. I read for pleasure and to escape into a world where things might be slightly better for LGBTQ characters. Yes, we can include homophobic characters who are unhappy with gay people or family members that loath the fact that their child-brother-sister is gay. I can name dozens of them off the top of my head. If that is what we are seeking, then the shelves are stocked. Chance has a deputy that doesn’t like the fact that she and her chief deputy are gay. Hell, he can’t stand that they are women in a position of power. Jax’s mother’s attitude sent her running across the country. I don’t want that to be the main focus of the book. I want to see some joy and that HEA we would love to have in our real life. I fully expect to continue to get dinged for that. Newsflash, I’m writing lesbian fiction/romance, there WILL be lesbians.
Now, how does all of this relate to my PCT that the sun will eventually shine through? Today in the United States, we are experiencing a massive resurgence of accepted and encouraged homophobic bigotry. The man who currently sits in the oval office fuels it every day. I will not give up my right to be legally wed to my wife or to make decisions on our healthcare. I will not go back to having to pay taxes on things that we legally own together. I will not go quietly into the night and climb back into the closet. What I will do is create a world where LGBTQIA brothers and sisters are empowered to live, work, and exist as we should be. Yes, I will include moments, couples, and situations that show the differences, but there will always be lesbians living their best lives. If that gets me dinged in reviews or in the eyes of some readers, I accept that. If you want fewer lesbians, then add some nonfiction or mainstream reading to your LGBTQIA selections. I’d love it if you read my books, but I won’t apologize if they are going to make you unhappy because there are too many lesbians. Trust me, there will be lesbians of all shapes, sizes, colors, and nationalities. There will be butches and femmes, androgynous, and textbook lesbians, lots of lesbians. I'll tell you why. In my perfect world, there would be lesbians. Lots of lesbians. As the song says, betcha bottom dollar- there would be lesbians.
Oh, and the other thing I’m going to do is- VOTE! I’m going to vote for those who don’t think I’m an abomination. I’m going to vote for those who will uphold our rights. I’m going to vote and encourage others to do the same.
The first book of the Five Star Series, Gold Star Chance, is still available at the Desert Palm Press site for less than you can buy it on Amazon. You can also get it at Smashwords, Bella, and the ‘Zon.
Thank you to those who kept it in the top ten of lesbian romance for so long and those who left those awesome reviews.
For that one individual that felt I used something racist on the cover, I won’t justify that. There isn’t a racist bone in my body. I work side by side with police officers that are good and decent people who see no color, no religion, and no sexual orientation. They are my friends and colleagues. I call out those who act in a way that tarnishes the badge they wear. My cover is not racist in any way.
On Tuesday, July 9th, my wife and I headed north to Pittsburgh, the home of my beloved Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins. I’m headed there because I will be attending my first Golden Crown Literary Society Conference with the love of my life who is likely to be on sensory and people overload.
I’m looking forward to fangirling so many of my favorite authors. I am beyond giddy to meet, AJ Adaire, my Yoda! The woman I owe so much to!
I’m sitting on one panel for audiobooks and doing an author spotlight reading on Friday, July 12th from 3:40 to 4:30pm.
I can’t wait to meet some of my readers! Don’t be afraid to approach me! I promise, I don’t bite, and I’m damn friendly! Yes, I will have author copies of all three of my books available, and if I run out, the Bella table will also be carrying them. For those who have purchased the paperback but aren’t bringing it to the Con because you’re flying in, I’m working on a sticker that I can sign, and you can take back home with you to affix in your copy. I’m looking forward to soaking it all up, recharging my writing batteries, and immersing myself in the world of lesbian literature and the authors that write it.
There will be lesbians, lots and lots of lesbians, bet your bottom dollar.