So you call yourself a hero?

“The NFL doesn’t have a Ray Rice problem, it has a violence against women problem,” said the National Organization for Women president, Terry O’Neill. Regardless of the attempts to appear responsive to evidence of the Baltimore Raven’s running back brutally punching his then-fiancé in the face, it is obvious that O’Neill is correct. The NFL, professional sports and our entire society still has a long way to go on the issue of domestic violence. And here’s the thing: professional athletes are always thumping their chests and calling themselves “heroes”. These players are exalted and glorified, and some have even compared themselves to real heroes like soldiers on battlefields. Talk about self-delusion.

I love sports, which makes me like many others, I suspect; disgusted at the way the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL have failed to take action. I keep thinking about the adage that with great opportunity comes great responsibility. The NFL is a billion dollar organization, its owners making piles of cash, and players making millions to—let’s be honest—play games. But rather than understanding that they have financial security and opportunities beyond 99% of their fans’ wildest dreams, the attitude has been to ignore, minimize, excuse, and when all else fails, blame the victim.

I began to have a bit of hope for necessary backlash from the public and other players when I saw people burning their #27 jerseys and asking for refunds. Former and current players tweeted messages condemning Rice and the Roger Goodell’s inept handling of the situation. I applaud the players who have had the good sense to speak out against Rice and Goodell. But then… In the press conference announcing the Raven’s decision to cut Rice, Coach Jim Harbaugh just couldn’t bring himself to call Rice out for reprehensible behavior. He just couldn’t say, ‘The Baltimore Ravens and I personally have no tolerance for anyone who would commit acts of domestic violence.’ He just couldn’t do it. Instead, he said, “When someone you care about has done wrong and has to face the consequence, it’s hurtful.” Whoa! Now there’s a strong stand against a violent assault! Way to lead, Jim.

Then, a couple of days later, following a Thursday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens had yet another opportunity to distance themselves from the ugliness of Rice’s actions and make a statement against his inexcusable behavior. What happened? Their coach once again showed his failure of leadership, lauding the performance of his players in the face of all the adversity of the week. Oh, waaaahhh! Poor players, poor Ravens, poor Jim, it’s been so difficult to function since having to fess up to their buddy Ray’s violent assault on his wife. I, frankly, am shocked that they’ve been able to cope. Why it’s been downright torturous, but they overcame it all to win the game! Woohoo! They ARE heroes! And just like true heroes, they didn’t quietly walk off the field, feeling fortunate for their many blessings, they thumped their chests and couldn’t resist spouting off.

Several players, including Torrey Smith, C.J. Mosely and Jacoby Jones, said that the win against the Steelers was dedicated to Ray Rice. Smith said, “Ray is still a great guy.” Wait. Great Guy? Seriously? Hey, guys, newsflash…great guys don’t punch their wives in the face. Just sayin’. While we’re setting things straight, you don’t dedicate games to wife beaters. Doing so is tantamount to a big F-you to, not only victims of domestic violence, but society and NFL fans in general. You dedicate games to players who get injured, teammates who are killed tragically in some accident, maybe a kid with cancer who is a diehard fan of the team, but not a guy who just knocked his wife out with a punch to the face.

Somebody needs to clue the NFL and it’s players into what it really means to be a hero. I’ll start with a definition from Merriam-Webster. Hero: noun \ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\ : a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities : a person who is greatly admired  It should go without saying that beating one’s wife doesn’t qualify as a brave act or fine quality. In fact, nothing about playing your game truly qualifies as a “brave act”. I’m thinking that the sooner professional athletes get that reality check, the sooner we might be able to have a serious conversation about the responsibility that comes with the wealth and privilege of being a professional athlete. The responsibility of your position requires you to at least attempt try to live up to some higher standard. You can’t have it both ways; calling yourselves heroes, and then claiming you can’t help it when you step out of line and commit a crime. You don’t like it? Then find another career. In the meantime, why don’t you try something novel, you heroes of the gridiron, stop condoning violence against women. Shun those who beat their wives. Take a stand of real leadership. And hey, Ravens? How’s this for an idea: Dedicate your season to domestic violence awareness. Own up to your responsibility as examples. That’s what real heroes do.

Ferguson and painful truths

The painful spectacle of events in Ferguson, Missouri have once again focused the attention of our country on the issues of race and law enforcement. I’ve been watching, listening and waiting. Waiting because it’s necessary. Speaking out without the facts helps no one, regardless of one’s point of view. In my experience, making a judgment before having all the facts only means that you’re cherry-picking the facts to support your own pre-conceived notions. Sadly, that’s what we do in our society for the most part nowadays. Whether it’s politics, music, or conversations, we only want to engage with people who think just like we do; we don’t want a debate or dialogue—that might require us to think, or <gasp!> see the world through someone else’s lens.

Last night, I attended a candlelight vigil on the fifth anniversary of my friend’s murder. Mike was a police officer doing his job on the streets of Tampa when a seemingly routine encounter suddenly turned violent. At the end, our friend lay bleeding in the street from a gunshot wound to his chest. My wife was the K9 officer who responded to track the suspect, and last night when we arrived for the memorial, she recalled the events, pointing out the way she searched and the yard where she eventually found the shooter hiding in a woodpile. We gathered to remember Mike, and even in our quiet reflection, the events in Ferguson, Missouri were present. Mike’s widow made a simple observation: “I know the public seems very negative right now about what you do, but keep doing your job. Because even those folks want you to respond to keep the criminals from their doors.”

That’s my lens. Ten months after Mike’s murder, another friend of ours stopped a car for an expired registration. The passenger in the car shot our friend and his partner in the head and left them dying in the street. That shooter is in jail as well. Neither suspect was shot. I just wanted to say that because, no, not every officer shoots every person of color they encounter, even in the direst of circumstances. I say that also acknowledging injustices and crimes that have been committed by other officers who don’t deserve to wear the badge, or may even deserve jail time.

After two and a half decades of policing in a large metropolitan city, I’ve seen a great deal. Police officers are not all good or bad. We are products of our environment, just like the citizens we serve. I have learned that communication is the greatest tool we have as we do our job. Beyond the big felony crimes such as murder, robbery, burglaries, or aggravated assaults, all the grey area issues fester. Arguments, loud parties, traffic problems, drunkenness, fist fights, domestic violence. These are the areas we mostly wade through, like a stagnant, muddy pond obscuring what’s brewing beneath its surface, the underlying social issues that society refuses to adequately deal with are dumped at the feet of the street cop. Frustration builds because there is no way to solve poverty and inequality from the seat of a patrol car, yet we are the only face of government most ordinary citizens see.

Dialogue. We need to have conversations in this country about our biases. Plain and simple. We all have prejudices, so there’s no point pretending we don’t. For all of the attention on the details in Ferguson about the unarmed black man, nobody seems to notice the depiction of law enforcement as a whole as a bunch of racist, jack-booted thugs. It’s as offensive to me as the African American honor student who is watched with suspicion in a store. Are some cops racist? Undoubtedly. But so are those who decide that just because the officer was white, he’s a murderer, and we have to have the courage to acknowledge both opposing beliefs.

All sides have to be open to honesty and facts, regardless of the outcome. Events such as these don’t happen in a vacuum. At every point in the timeline a choice is made by each individual that propels them into the confrontation, and even then, choices still dictate the outcome. When the tragedy unfolds and either the unarmed black man or the white police officer is dead, we must have the courage to search for the truth head on, despite our pain. For all of our differences, ironically, the culture of silence and mistrust are our most common traits. Snitching is taboo whether you’re black or wearing blue. Both groups vilify the other for exactly the same thing.

I don’t pretend to have the answers. I only know that we must have the courage to have a conversation or to speak out. All of us need to own our responsibility in solving the larger problems of the community, for we are all part of it. I’ve angered my peers by saying that I believe Trayvon Martin was actually the one standing his ground. I look at my young, bi-racial nephew and worry that could be him in ten years. I also recall stepping out of my patrol car in the projects and smiling at a little brown-skinned girl who waved at me. As I started to bend down to talk to her a man appeared behind her and screamed, “Don’t you ever talk to the police!” The little girl’s face morphed into fear and she ran. His lens of experience filtered out my humanity, reducing me to a perceived abusive cop. The problem was his attempt to prevent that little girl from having a different picture of me.

I said to the man, “You don’t even know me.” He growled, “I don’t have to know you. You’re a fucking cop.”

If the conversation never gets beyond that, we will never bridge the gap.

Thanks for reading~LM

Next Up for Marriage Equality

Last month, in the last few miles of our road trip to Pennsylvania, we heard the news that the PA Supreme Court had struck down the state’s prohibition to same-sex marriage. It was a symbolic welcome to my hometown, made even more compelling since we will be making the state our home in the not so distant future. Many of you I’m sure know that the governor of PA is one of the most conservative governors in the country. Recall Governor Corbett’s infamous response when grilled about the state’s “forced ultrasound” law: Women could just “close their eyes.” Because then, you know, the state compelling a woman to undergo a forced procedure against her will, wouldn’t be any big deal. This kind of thinking is what makes him a darling of the conservatives.

Now, Corbett was faced with the courts striking down a same-sex marriage law in his state. You would expect that he would rise to the challenge, rage against the assault on the institution of marriage and even civilization itself. Not so. It seems that our conservative standard-bearer is opting out of the debate. He’s decided, much like his neighboring governor in New Jersey, the maligned wannabe presidential nominee, that it’s probably best not to challenge this ruling for political expediency. Yes, folks, there is a growing—but quiet—realization that seems to be taking hold in even the most anti-gay politicians that maybe, just maybe, they have a better chance of winning if they knock off a little on the homophobic stances. Amazing that they’ve come to this realization, given that polls for a while now have confirmed that the majority of the country is moving toward an acceptance of same-sex marriages. What a novel concept to have an elected representative of the people actually listen to the people, huh? No, they’re not listening to the people, they just want to do damage control for the sake of the next election.

In Florida, our current home state, a discrimination lawsuit has just wrapped up and we are awaiting a judicial decision on the fate of marriage equality in the Sunshine State. I’m amazed that I may once again get to hear a court rule that discrimination against my wife and I, and every other gay and lesbian citizen in our state, is unconstitutional. It would mean the world to so many of my friends and fellow Floridians to have this injustice overturned. The current governor of Florida is equally as conservative as Corbett. He’s in the midst of a crucial race against a former governor, who, for all his flaws, has been willing to admit to being wrong on the issue of same sex marriage. We’re all waiting for the court’s decision on this important issue, but for me, I wonder what the ‘ol gov’nor will do if the court strikes down the state’s discriminatory marriage law.

Will he let it ride like Corbett and Christie, trying not to look too much like a bigot to the average person on the street? I wonder, is this the new trend? Has the tide of liberty pushed the issue so far that we have reached a tipping point where even the conservatives realize that hanging onto their antiquated ideas and hate-filled rhetoric is finally toxic to their public existence? Do they at long last realize that everyone knows that same-sex marriage has been going on in Massachusetts for a decade and the sky hasn’t fallen? Or that an increasing majority of people in this country don’t have a problem with two consenting adults marrying, even if they happen to be the same gender? The NY Times ran a piece last week about those same-sex couples a decade ago who were the first to have marriage announcements posted in the Times. Of the five, four are still happily married, one couple divorced, but still co-parents their child. Pretty normal I’d say, even better than the usual marriage odds. Maybe it’s time for the bigots to find another shtick.

Judge John E. Jones in his eloquent ruling says it best: “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

Thanks for reading~ LM

Andi Marquette is back!

From the Hat Down Blog Tour Banner

Synopsis

Meg Tallmadge is a veterinarian at a clinic in Laramie, Wyoming. She’s got a great job, great friends, deep ties to the family ranch, and big plans for her vet future. Sure, there are bumps in the road, like her mom’s continued denial about who Meg is and her painful and infuriating attempts to make Meg a “proper” woman. Then there’s Meg’s recent breakup with a girlfriend, which has her wondering why she can’t seem to open up to relationships. But Meg knows that life is messy, and sometimes all you can do is get through and shake it off. What she can’t seem to shake off, however, is her past.

It’s been almost ten years to the day since she met the love of her life, and about eight since she let her go. Meg has a hard time admitting that maybe she didn’t really let go, and that maybe some things you never really get over, no matter how hard you try. But her past is half a world away, caught up in her own life, relationship, and journalism career, and Meg isn’t one to chase the ghosts of past relationships. Even if they send you a birthday card and nudge what you thought were the closed-off parts of your heart. After all, second chances are the stuff of fantasies and movies where the good guy always gets a happy ending. You can’t count on something like that.

Or can you?

excerpt

From the Hat Down

Andi Marquette, © 2014

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

May, 2009

Meg sipped her coffee and stared at the three boxes stacked next to her front door, and guilt tugged her thoughts. They’d been there a couple of months now, reminders of her break-up with Kate. She’d called Kate last week, to set up a time to pick them up and Kate, ever the organized and conscientious type, had asked apologetically if she could collect the boxes later, as she was just starting a new job and trying to get settled in her own place in Fort Collins. Barely an hour south. But the distance between them was much more than that. Meg had agreed. The least she could do was give Kate the space to get her stuff when she could. Meg had offered to drive it down a few weeks ago, but Kate wouldn’t hear of it, though she said she appreciated that. Meg knew it was genuine. She’d been nice about it. She always was. It made Meg feel guilty for pushing her to pick the stuff up.

The boxes maintained their blank silence as she studied them. She had debated moving them into the bedroom she used as an office, but decided to just leave them by the door. Maybe they were penance, in some way. Reminders of a relationship gone sour, representatives of an ending.

She took another sip. Endings sucked. But in a weird way, they were pre-beginnings. You couldn’t have a beginning without an end, after all. She shifted her attention to the window, and the trees outside, past the covered front porch. Mid-May and many had finally leafed out, presaging summer. She looked at the boxes again and a wave of sadness washed through her chest. She swallowed it with a gulp of coffee just as her Blackberry rang with a particular tone. She smiled as she pulled it off her belt. “Hey, fellow vet person. What’s up?”

“Hi, Doctor Horse Chick,” came Sean’s goofy nickname for her. She had a way of stringing words together in unique combinations that somehow ended up making perfect sense. “Just checking to be sure you remember that I’ll be in your fabulous Laramie Tuesday doing a most awesome lecture on holistic approaches to large four-legged domestic animals.”

Meg almost snorted coffee through her nose. “Approaching, say, cows holistically? Like, with new-age lassos? Do you tie a crystal on the end?”

“No. Incense,” she retorted with a “duh” tone.

Meg laughed. “And what kind of incense might make a cow even more catatonic than some of them already are?”

“Sandalwood. Maybe jasmine. I haven’t tried that one yet. Patchouli makes them grow dreads and crave reggae.”

“Bob Moo-ley,” Meg said, trying not to giggle.

“Oh, hell no. I cannot believe you just said that.” Sean started laughing. “‘No woman, no cud’ is their fave tune.”

Meg grinned and set her nearly empty coffee cup on the topmost box. “Are you bringing one of these dreadlocked bovines to your lecture? I’m sure the students would appreciate it.”

“Whatever. They’re all serious cowboy-types up there. Maybe I could get a cow to wear a ten-gallon Stetson. Though you look better in Stetsons than any cow. Than any human-types, actually.”

“Well, it is the head covering of choice in this state.” She nudged a box with the toe of her boot. “So you still want to stop by when you’re done?”

“Is there wind in Wyoming? And that’s a rhetorical question, by the way,” Sean said with teasing warmth.

“Wind? Here?” Meg asked in a “what are you talking about?” tone.

“Exactly my point.”

“Cool. Just come by the house.” She picked up her cup.

“Will do. I’ll call you if anything changes. Oh, speaking of seeing you—your birthday’s coming up,” she said in a sing-song tone.

Meg grimaced. “Don’t remind me. I’m trying to be low-key about it.”

“Please. You’re always low-key. Why not have a party? Just to shake things up a bit?”

She glanced at the boxes, then back out the window. “You know I’m not really the party kind. Besides, I’m going to the ranch that weekend. You and Ted want to come up? I’d be okay with a birthday barbecue.” She walked into the kitchen and rinsed her cup out with one hand and set it in the drying rack.

“I’d love to, but Ted’s brother is supposed to be coming through then. Damn. We want to at least take you out for dinner, though.” Sean sighed plaintively. “Since you won’t let me throw a massive street party for you, with a DJ and Chinese acrobats, will a small, painfully intimate dinner with me and Ted suffice?”

“Always,” Meg said, smiling. “I’ll check my schedule and we’ll talk more when I see you tomorrow.”

“Sounds good. Catch you later.”

“Yep. Hi to Ted.” Meg hung up and slid the phone back into its holder on her belt. She gave the boxes another hard stare then turned and walked down the hallway toward the two bedrooms at the rear of the house. The one she used as her office was to the right, her bedroom to the left. She went into her office to her leather satchel, which rested on her desk chair, flap open. She rummaged through it to make sure she had everything she needed for the day.

Another damn birthday. At least she’d get to spend it with her dad at the ranch. Meg dug around in her satchel, looking for her appointment book. She preferred the old-fashioned approach to keeping track of her schedule, though she did enter her patient appointments into her Blackberry, as well.

Where had she put the book? It wasn’t in its usual place in the satchel. She stopped her search in the satchel and looked at her desk. Ah. There it was. She reached across her desk for her appointment book, partially hidden beneath a veterinary journal. She moved the journal and picked up the appointment book, and her gaze lingered on the small wooden carving of a horse that stood nearby, next to her computer monitor. It held its head high, and its right front leg was raised, as if it was preparing to tear off across a prairie. The unknown artist had captured the moment between stillness and motion, that second in which muscles bunch and adrenaline surges before the physical form follows the urge.

Meg set the datebook back down and picked up the horse. She ran her fingertips over the smooth chocolate brown wood. The carving fit perfectly in her palm and she remembered when it had arrived in the mail from Argentina six years ago, a gift for her graduation from vet school at Colorado State. She studied the detail on its face, and on its mane and tail. The horse’s surface felt warm, as if it was generating its own heat. She closed her hand around it, remembering the small box it had come in, and how she’d felt when she saw the handwriting on the address label. She smiled, because she felt a little bit of that now.

She returned the horse to its place on her desk, wondering how its sender was, and if she might be thinking about her. Maybe she was even writing a card, getting ready to mail it. She always sent Meg a birthday card. Every year since they first met ten years ago, a week before Meg turned twenty-five. She stared at the horse for a while, a strange combination of longing and regret coloring her thoughts before she picked her datebook up and tossed it into her satchel. She slung the bag over her shoulder and headed for the front door.

Meet the Author

me n hatAndi Marquette is a native of New Mexico and Colorado and an award-winning mystery, science fiction, and romance writer. She also has the dubious good fortune to be an editor who spent 15 years working in publishing, a career track that sucked her in while she was completing a doctorate in history. She is co-editor of the forthcoming All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance. Her most recent novels are Day of the Dead, the Goldie-nominated finalist The Edge of Rebellion, and the romance From the Hat Down, a follow-up to the Rainbow Award-winning novella, From the Boots Up.

When she’s not writing novels, novellas, and stories or co-editing anthologies, she serves as both an editor for Luna Station Quarterly, an ezine that features speculative fiction written by women and as co-admin of the popular blogsite Women and Words. When she’s not doing that, well, hopefully she’s managing to get a bit of sleep.

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Service Sacrificed

This week while the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) is once again being debated in Washington, and its detractors continue to deny any need to protect workers from baseless firings, comes the story of a public servant suddenly dismissed, and the community she serves searching for answers. For any of you who haven’t heard the story from Latta, South Carolina, I’ll bring you up to speed. Crystal Moore was hired by the City of Latta in 1989 and has served her community as a police officer ever since. By all accounts, she has been an exemplary officer, rising through the ranks until her appointment to Chief of Police in 2012. Her service record shows no disciplinary action in all of those years.

Town shows support for fired police chief
Town shows support for fired police chief

In December, the city got a new mayor, and suddenly Chief Moore has become something completely different. She’s a discipline problem, a troublemaker; she is not fit to run the agency. Mayor Bullard cites the fact that Moore received seven reprimands, ostensibly the justification for the firing of his police chief. The interesting thing about the list of transgressions is that six of the seven seem to deal with challenging her supervisor in some way. Hmm…the Chief’s supervisor…oh, that would be the mayor. So, in the space of four months, this formerly stellar employee has racked up seven times as many reprimands as in her entire career. Now, we might conclude that the new mayor and the chief simply cannot get along. It happens. One would think, however, that they would have a sit down to discuss the issues between them. According to the chief that never happened. She states that after hearing rumors that her job was in jeopardy, she asked but the mayor but he denied it. City council is concerned about the fact that no verbal counseling preceded the written reprimands.

What happened next is the troubling part of this story. During a phone conversation with City Councilman Jared Taylor, Mayor Bullard had this to say:

“I would much rather have … and I will say this to anybody’s face … somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children.

Because that ain’t the damn way it’s supposed to be. You know … you got people out there — I’m telling you buddy — I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don’t say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around.

I’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I’m not going to see them do it with two men neither.

I’m not going to do it. Because that ain’t the way the world works.

Now, all these people showering down and saying ‘Oh it’s a different lifestyle they can have it.’ Ok, fine and dandy, but I don’t have to look at it and I don’t want my child around it.”

Maybe the chief wasn’t as much of a discipline problem as she was…a lesbian. And you know what the amazing thing is? It’s perfectly legal in South Carolina and thirty other states to fire an employee for being gay. Ironically, the progress we’ve made toward equality has rendered it politically incorrect for homophobic people to openly admit to firing someone on the grounds of sexual orientation. Which means the mayor felt he had to invent other reasons for the firing, but his unfiltered words tell the tale. That’s what bothers the fair-minded residents of Latta, who turned out in support of their police chief at a city council meeting.

The purpose of ENDA is to prevent precisely this type of situation from occurring. Opponents of the legislation claim that discrimination based upon sexual orientation doesn’t occur, and it’s another example of the advancing “homosexual agenda”. No doubt the segregationists in the old South used the same arguments based on race in the days before the Civil Rights Act. It would be great if equality could be achieved without the need for laws to ensure that individual’s rights weren’t denied based on prejudice. Unfortunately that’s not reality. The Human Rights Campaign spokesman, Fred Sainz, correctly states, “Without explicit federal or state employment protections, a decorated police chief is left to fend for herself.”ENDA-hi1

The citizens of Latta apparently don’t care that Chief Moore is a lesbian. They only care about the job she does for their city. That’s all LGBT citizens want—to be judged on the merits of their job performance. Once again, folks, we don’t want “special” rights, only equal treatment under the law. Chief Moore shouldn’t have her many years of service to her community sacrificed based upon bigotry. If it can happen to her, it can happen to any one of us in the LGBT community. The Employment Non-discrimination Act has huge implications for all of us. ENDA is the next step in the equality march. Let’s keep moving forward.

Peace~ LM

Why do I write?

Writing from the heart is what I’ve always done. Join me for my inaugural blog over at Women and Words for reflections on my writing and how life shapes the words I put on the page.

Women and Words

I don’t remember exactly when I started writing. I only know that I cannot remember not needing to write. Maybe it was because I was a shy kid who felt like she didn’t belong anywhere exactly. Books and reading were a great escape. My mother’s aunt nurtured that connection to books and I loved getting swept away in an epic story. Then one day she bought me a package of stationary and a beautiful pen. “Write,” she said. So I began, clumsily at first, filling the pages with bad poetry about adolescent angst. What was amazing about the experience was that once I began, I couldn’t stop. If reading was a source of comfort and happiness, then writing—putting my own words on the page—felt like mainlining a drug.images-1

The outside world had given me plenty of reasons to doubt myself. I struggled with a fledgling awareness of my differentness

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Feelin’ the Love and the LesficREADER Winner!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being the featured author on a Facebook group called LesficREADER, founded by Jaynes Pehney. There are lots of FB groups, but LesficREADER distinguishes itself by remaining true to its core mission, and that is to provide a place for readers to truly interact with authors. The group has a pretty simple concept:  A read of the month is selected, much like a traditional book club, and then there is a discussion day or weekend, featuring the author. She’s branched out a bit and had author days, (like the one I just did) and hosts poetry days (her passion), where anyone can post original poems or a personal favorite. Other than the designated days, the group is open to all for any respectful discussion or promotions. Jaynes runs a tight ship, and when it’s discussion time, you don’t pimp your own shit or otherwise distract from that author. I’m sure she takes some crap for insisting that the rules are followed, but hey—her group, her rules, and really, that focus is good for everyone, I think. From my perspective, it was nice to spend the day chatting with people who wanted to discuss my work and get to know me, without the interruption of others blasting the feed with “buy my book!” non-interactive posts.

All about the book
All about the book

As an author, the experience doesn’t get any better than this. You get to relax, chat with readers, talk about your work, and if you’re brave enough, share a little insight into the real you. That’s the part I enjoyed the most. I’m a one on one kind of gal. We talked books, our picks for the Women’s Final Four, and I even revealed who the real LM is for those who didn’t already know. The day ended and I signed off, feeling very satisfied. There were dozens of discussion threads and hundreds of comments logged, which kept me quite busy, and I’m grateful to my helpers, Andi Marquette and Baxter Clare Trautman. I hope the members of the group who joined us for all or part of the day enjoyed the discussions. I had a great time. If you haven’t joined the group yet, I highly recommend the experience.

I promised a give away, and that’s the next order of business. The winner of the LM LesficREADER drawing is none other than Marie-Claude Goofy Henrichon! Congratulations! You win your choice of a book or a soon to be released Rebound T-shirt, with the awesome REBOUND AND RELOAD tagline. Woohoo!

That’s all for me today, gang. Thanks again for the fun weekend. I definitely felt the love.

And thanks for reading~LM

 

From the Boots Up–Andi Marquette Rocks!

From the Boots Up

Book Blitz

From the Boots Up FINAL 300 dpi

Book Title: From the Boots Up

Author: Andi Marquette

Genre: F/F Romance

From the Boots Up is a runner-up in the 2013 Rainbow Awards for best contemporary lesbian romance and best lesbian novel.

Hosted by:Book Enthusiast Promotions

Synopsis

Meg Tallmadge has more than enough on her plate. She’s finishing up a college degree, getting ready to apply to vet school, and working another summer with her dad, Stan, on the family ranch in southern Wyoming. He’s managed to get the Los Angeles Times to send a reporter out to do a story on the Diamond Rock, which doubles as a dude ranch. Meg knows the ranch needs all the publicity it can get to bring in more customers, but she’s not looking forward to babysitting a reporter for a week. When the originally scheduled reporter can’t make it, Meg worries that they won’t get a story at all, which is worse than dealing with a city slicker for a few days. Fortunately for Stan and the ranch, the Times finds a replacement, and Meg prepares to be under scrutiny, under the gun, and the perfect hostess. She knows what this opportunity means to her father, and she’s hoping that if it goes well, it’ll ease some of the distance between them that resulted when she came out a few months earlier.

What Meg’s not prepared for — and never expected — is the reporter herself and the effect she has on her. In spite of what she feels, Meg can’t risk the fallout that could result from overstepping a professional boundary. But as the week draws to a close, it becomes clear that not taking a chance could be the biggest risk of all.

NOTE: Contains F/F mature situations.

Meet the Author

me n hat

Andi Marquette was born in New Mexico and grew up in Colorado. She completed a couple of academic degrees in anthropology and returned to New Mexico, where she decided a doctorate in history was somehow a good idea. She completed it before realizing that maybe she should have joined the circus, or at least a traveling Gypsy troupe. Oh, well. She fell into editing sometime around 1993 and has been obsessed with words ever since, which may or may not be a good thing. She currently resides in Colorado, where she edits, writes, and cultivates a strange obsession with New Mexico chile.

excerpt

May 1999

My weekend with Tex Hollis began when I pulled into the driveway of the Lazy T-Bar Ranch west of San Antonio. I knew this wouldn’t be an ordinary weekend when Tex cast a critical eye over my shorts, t-shirt, and tennis shoes. Two days later, I was as comfortable in jeans and boots as any of the buckaroos who spent their days in the saddle—

Meg laughed and tossed the magazine back onto her dad’s huge oak desk. She leaned back in her chair and braced one booted foot on the desk’s edge. “Tex Hollis,” she said, sarcastic. “Sounds like somebody out of a Longarm book.”

Stan looked at her over the top of his reading glasses. “And since when did you start reading that?”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Davey keeps a stash. He gave me one to read one night, thinking I’d like the ‘plot’.” She grinned wickedly. “The plot was way better than the sex.”

His eyes widened and she laughed.

“I told Davey that, and he never loaned me another one. I think I ruined one of his fantasies.” She pushed back farther, regarding him mischievously.

He cleared his throat. “Fantasy?”

“Please, Dad. You’re a guy. You were Davey’s age. You know what guys think about.”

His cheeks reddened and he started moving papers around on his desk. “If your mom heard that. . .” he said with exaggerated sternness.

“She’d lose her religion because I know about sex. It’d burst her bubble.” Meg moved her foot and let her chair legs fall to the floor with a thump. And then her mom would haul out her Bible and start talking about chastity.

“Well, moms were young women, too, and they don’t like to think about their daughters running wild with young guys.”

“You mean like Mom did with you?” She asked innocently.

The phone rang and he shot her a mock disapproving glare that dissolved into a smile before he answered. “Diamond Rock Ranch. This is Stan Tallmadge.” He clicked the mouse on the computer as he talked.

Meg reached across the desk for the magazine and flipped idly through it again before studying the cover. A copy of Spirit, from Southwest Airlines. A pair of worn cowboy boots with spurs stood on a workbench against a log cabin wall. A nice photo, for a stereotype.

She glanced up at him. From the conversation he was having, it sounded like the call was another reservation. They still had two spaces available for guests this month and she hoped the spots filled. This sounded like it would drop their space to one. Good.

She studied him then, noting the fine lines that spiderwebbed from the corners of his eyes and the deepening creases around his mouth. His hair, once as dark as a crow’s wing, had lightened to gray at his temples, though she often thought about him without the gray, her attempt to prevent him from aging.

The magazine cover advertised a story about Montana, and how people could get an “Old West” experience at a couple of dude ranches up there. She’d heard of them, and she wondered how the ranch owners had managed to get covered in Spirit. The Diamond Rock needed more coverage like that. Even more than what they’d get from the reporter who was coming out to bother them next week. She turned the page and a photo of a couple of men on horseback herding a few cattle caught her eye. One of the men looked like her dad. She glanced at him again as he continued to talk, doing the Diamond Rock spiel to the person on the other end.

Ranching was in his blood, just like it had been in his father’s and in his grandfather’s before him. No other place on earth would fire his spirit like Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains. Meg knew that, and she knew that if he ever left, it would kill him, just as staying was slowly leaching the years from his bones as it got harder and harder to make ends meet, to get enough paying customers for the dude ranch experience even while he tried to work the ranch with fewer staff.

He looked at her, eyes the color of a summer thundercloud, like hers, she’d been told, and gave her a thumbs-up. She smiled and returned to her magazine, but she wasn’t really thinking about the article. She took after her father in demeanor and physical appearance, she knew, and it was a point of contention when her mother had lived there. But it was Stan who had made Irene “pert near crazy” with his stubborn streak and independent nature. Loyal to a fault, but unreachable in the deep down parts of his heart, he’d driven Irene right back to Kentucky nine years ago, when Meg was sixteen.

“All right,” he said. “Thanks for calling. We’ll see you next week.” He hung up, satisfied. “Full up.”

She grinned at him and placed the magazine back on his desk, relieved. “So when’s that reporter coming in?”

He leaned back in his chair and stroked his mustache thoughtfully. He looked like an old-style cowboy with it, especially when he wore his hat and duster. She thought he resembled Wyatt Earp.

“Hopefully next Friday, still. I got a call from the editor out there this morning and the writer she wanted broke her leg. So she’s trying to rustle someone else up on short notice.”

Meg hid her concern. It was already Wednesday. Next Friday was just over a week away. “Will she be able to get somebody else to come instead?” A story in the Los Angeles Times was too important. They needed the publicity.

“She’s working on it.” He tried to hide his own concern, too, but she read it in his eyes. “Might have to delay the story a little bit, if she can’t find anybody on short notice.”

“How long?”

He gave a little shrug. “She said maybe a couple extra weeks. Then there’s another window of opportunity in July. Which won’t be too bad.”

The dude ranching season pretty much ended here by mid-August as fall started creeping in over the mountains. Stan needed this publicity, because it wouldn’t only serve for this summer. It would continue for the next season, and the article would be on the Internet, so they could use it in more of their promo.

“Did she say who the reporter might be?” The one that had been scheduled was originally from Idaho, and Meg had talked to her briefly on the phone. She sounded nice, and she’d grown up in a ranching town, so Meg figured she’d “get” the Diamond Rock, and she’d be able to really nail that in her story.

“Nope.” He shrugged again. “I’m sure she’ll find someone who’ll do a fine job on the story. It’ll work out.”

“Hope so.”

He narrowed his eyes then. “And you’ll be damn hospitable. I don’t want to have to be telling your mom why the story that gets published in the Los Angeles Times is about somebody’s bad experience at the Diamond Rock.”

“Why would you even think that?” She looked at him, hurt.

“I know how you get,” he said, more gently. “You don’t suffer fools and, unfortunately, you’ve got some of your mom’s temper. But in this case, I need you to suffer.” He smiled at her. “No practical jokes on the greenhorn.”

Her mother’s voice echoed through her mind. “Damn it, Stan! Would you get that girl in hand?” She sighed. “I’m not sixteen anymore.”

“No, but twenty-four ain’t that far off.”

“Twenty-five.”

“Not yet, missy. Next week. And I can still turn you over my knee. So no bullshit. We need this publicity.” He tried to look forbidding but a twinkle danced in his eyes and she relaxed.

“Well, since I’m such a loose cannon, can I not be in charge of the reporter?” She didn’t mind playing babysitter, but if she didn’t have to, that was fine with her. She hoped whoever the Times lined up had at least a little outdoor experience.

“The way I see it, whoever they send will be here for a week and they’ll want a ‘full range’ of ranching experience, and they’ll observe and ask questions. They might or might not want a tour guide. And you’ll be an official Diamond Rock liaison, so every day, I expect you to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with the reporter. Just treat whoever it is like a regular registered guest. You’re good with that, hon. They really do like you. Don’t think of it as being under the microscope or something.”

“Great,” she said with a sigh. She imagined them all dressed up like on the set of Bonanza and she groaned softly.

“I know. It’s kind of a pain in the ass, because we do have to mind our manners even more, and you don’t know for sure what’s going to end up in print. We’ve got to make it so this reporter can’t resist writing a great story about the DR. In fact, we want this reporter to come back every chance he gets. Or she,” he corrected himself.

“I know. Don’t worry.” She reached over to the neighboring chair to retrieve her hat. “You don’t think whoever it is will be like the writer of this story”—she gestured at the magazine, “and change your name to something like ‘Slim Thompson’?” She was only half-teasing.

He pursed his lips, pretending to think. “I’m hoping for something like ‘Dutch Walters’. And maybe you’ll get to be ‘Cherry Goodnight’.”

Meg grabbed the Spirit magazine off the stack of papers and threw it playfully at him.

He caught it and tossed it onto the desk, chuckling. “You could change your middle name to Cherry before the reporter gets here. So there’d be some veracity there.”

She gave him a look and started to get up.

“Your mom called this morning,” he said, as he leaned back in his beat-up office chair. He folded his arms and regarded her with an expression that was a mixture of concerned dad but acceptance for whatever decision she might make.

She settled in her seat again, her Stetson in her lap. She rubbed her fingertips over the black felt, waiting. She got her stubborn streak from him, but hers was more pronounced. He’d told her she could outwait a rock.

“You need to talk to your mom more,” he said after a while. “She misses you.”

She didn’t answer. Instead, she studied the knotted pine wood on the walls behind his head. He waited a few more moments then leaned forward and picked up the copy of Spirit. He flipped through it as she had done earlier.

“She’s your mom,” he said, without looking up from the pages.

“She’s not really thrilled with me right now, as you know.” She watched for his reaction, but his expression didn’t change.

“So don’t talk about that.”

“That’s all she wants to talk about. It’s not like I make it a point to advertise my personal life.”

“Well.” He set the magazine aside and tugged at the hair above his right ear, something he did when he was really uncomfortable.

Meg wished she hadn’t told him, either. Wished she’d never said that the painful break-up she’d endured last fall was with a woman. Since then, he’d struggled with it, and some of their interactions were tinged with an unfamiliar stiffness.

“I’ll call her,” Meg relented.

“That’s my girl.” He said with obvious relief.

“But I drive her crazy. Even on the phone.” Her mom always asked whether Meg was seeing any nice young men at school and Meg would have to deflect those statements or tell her she was still getting over someone. Irene knew it had been a woman because Meg had told her, around the same time she’d told her dad. But since Irene had gone back to Kentucky, she’d found the Lord, and this particular Lord didn’t care much for gay people. Even those in your own family.

“She’s still your mom,” he said, tugging on his hair. “Find something you’re both interested in and keep the conversation there.”

“Yeah,” she said doubtfully. She stood up and put her hat on. “See you around, Dutchie.” She grinned at him and was out the door before he could toss the magazine after her.

She decided to put off the dreaded phone call and walked instead across the swath of hard-packed earth between Stan’s office and living space and the lodge, which had been the main ranch house before her grandfather had converted it in the fifties to accommodate space for kitchen and dining facilities that could have passed muster in a big-city restaurant. Stan had upgraded it two years ago. New appliances, better shelving, new pots and pans, new dishes. They’d even added a walk-in cooler. Alice, the chef and “Kitchen Queen,” as she called herself, more than approved of the changes. She’d been at the ranch since just before Meg’s mom had left, and she thought of her as family, now, like a favorite aunt.

She went in through the front, and the rich, heavy odor of cowboy chili greeted her, along with voices from the kitchen and the sound of a knife chopping something. She blinked in the dim dining room, after being out in the midday sun. Three long tables, decorated with blue-and-white checkered tablecloths, stood parallel to each other in the center of the big room. Each could seat fifteen on the benches, and some summers, they did. On rare occasions, they had to add another table. Meg hoped it was that kind of summer. The more paying guests, the happier her dad was.

She wiped her hands on her jeans and checked through the stack of mail on the closest table then went into the kitchen, through the swinging door that separated it from the dining room and entered Alice’s domain, which could rival something in one of those high-end cooking magazines.

“Hey, Meg,” said Anna, Alice’s prep cook, as she looked up from the cutting board on the island where she was chopping carrots.

“Hey.”

Alice emerged from the walk-in. “Hi, sweetie,” she said with a smile that, in conjunction with her swept-up hair, made her look like a glamorous 1940s actress, even when she had her cowboy duds on, as her dad called them. Jane Russell, Meg thought. That’s who Alice looked like, though her hair was a lighter color. She was in her late forties, now, but she was just as pretty as when she’d started working at the ranch. Alice always turned guys’ heads, but she was so down-to-earth that she didn’t seem to notice.

“Would you like a sandwich? You missed lunch.” She closed the walk-in door.

“Is the chili ready?” she asked hopefully.

“Not yet. Let me make you a sandwich.”

“Are you sure? I can just—”

She raised an eyebrow imperiously. “I am the Kitchen Queen. I have spoken. Go sit down.” She gestured at the counter by the back door.

“Yes, your majesty.” She walked around the island and hung her hat on one of the pegs by the door then sat down on one of the stools, her back to the counter so she could watch Alice and Anna. “We got another reservation.”

“Oh, good. I know your dad was worried about filling up,” Alice said as she sliced bread.

“He said that the reporter that was supposed to come broke her leg.”

She stopped slicing bread and looked over at her, concern written in the lines across her brow.

“The editor is trying to find another reporter who can come out on short notice.”

She went back to her sandwich making. “Well, that’s how journalists operate. They’re used to changes in plans.” Alice finished with the bread and started slicing part of a turkey breast. “How soon can the new one come?”

“They don’t know. I guess they’re trying to keep the same schedule, if they can find someone. But they might not be able to. So maybe the next couple of weeks or July.”

“Too bad. From what your dad said, the first one sounded like a good match for an assignment like this.” She spread deli mustard on one slice of bread and mayonnaise on the other then placed the slices of meat on the mayo piece and lettuce and tomato on the mustard piece. She’d add her “secret spices” next.

“Oh, and I’m not supposed to be an asshole.”

Anna snickered and Alice looked over at her, her lips twitching with a smile. She returned her gaze to Meg. “You’re hardly that.”

“Dad seems to think I am. He kind of makes me feel like I’m a teenager, still.”

“That’s his job as a parent. To make you feel like a teenager the rest of your life. And if it’s any consolation, you’re far from being a teenager. You’re your own woman. Just remember that to your dad, you’ll always be his little girl.”

“Then why is he freaking out that I’ll be an asshole to the reporter?”

“He’s just stressed, hon. He wants to make a good impression so the story gets a lot of attention.” She went over to one of the refrigerators and took out a jar of dill pickles.

“He thinks I have Mom’s temper and he thinks I don’t suffer fools. I guess he thinks if the reporter’s an idiot, I’ll let him or her know.”

She laughed. “Nothing wrong with pointing something out, and nothing wrong with a woman having a temper. You just need to learn how to direct it appropriately. And maybe soften the blow.” She retrieved a plate from under the stainless steel counter along the back wall. “Diplomacy, love.” she said. “The art of telling people they’re idiots without making them feel too bad about it.”

Anna giggled as she reached for another carrot.

Meg grinned. “I guess I might need to work on that a little bit.”

“Don’t hurt yourself,” Alice said with a smile.

Anna finished with the carrots and put them in a plastic tub that she carried into the walk-in. She had to duck her head, since she was pushing six feet tall. She’d never played team sports, for which her height probably would have served well. She was, however, an excellent barrel racer.

“I’m not going to screw this up,” Meg said. It still stung a little, that her dad thought she might.

“No, you’re not.” Alice brought the plate over to her. It looked like something out of a food magazine, with the pickle and chips arranged artfully around the sandwich halves.

Meg smiled. “Thanks. I love your sandwiches.”

She squeezed her shoulder. “Iced tea?”

“Yes, please.” She turned so she faced the counter and bit into the sandwich. Alice made the best. “How is it that your sandwiches always taste so good?” She said after she’d swallowed.

“Made with love.” Alice winked as she put a glass of tea and a napkin on the counter next to Meg’s plate.

“You’re the best-kept secret in the West. Please don’t ever leave us. But if you do, mention the Diamond Rock on your cooking show.”

She laughed and went to clean up. “You’re your father’s daughter.”

Meg continued to eat, Anna and Alice chatting amiably behind her. When she finished, she took the plate into the dishwashing room then went back into the kitchen where Alice was checking the chili. Anna must have gone into the dining room, because one of the swinging doors was moving.

Alice handed her a spoon. “One taste. No double-dipping.”

She laughed and took a spoonful, holding it over her cupped left hand so none would spill. She blew on it and tasted it. “Oh, my God. Best. Chili. Ever.” She finished the spoonful and Alice took the utensil from her.

“Make sure you tell the reporter that.”

“I won’t have to. One taste will prove it.”

Alice set the spoon aside and continued to stir one of the big pots on the stove.

“He’s still acting weird,” Meg said after a few more moments.

She stopped stirring and gave Meg her full attention. “About your break-up with Amanda?”

She nodded.

“He’ll come around.”

“I think he’s hoping that I was just experimenting, and now I’ll go find a boyfriend.”

“He also just wants to make sure you’re happy.” She reached up and brushed Meg’s hair out of her face, like a mom might. “Sweetie, your dad loves you more than life itself. But he’s a little traditional in some ways, and it’ll just take him a little bit to get used to the idea. Parents always have expectations for their children, and he’s having to revise some about you.”

“I feel like I screwed up. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him.” A knot tightened in her chest, and she hated this wedge that seemed to have come between her dad and her.

Alice pulled her into a hug. “You had to. Because this is part of you, and it’s not healthy to keep that all bottled up inside. I’m proud of you, for telling not only your dad but your mom.”

Meg groaned as Alice released her. “I’m supposed to call her.”

She gave her a sympathetic smile. “You are who you are, and you’re choosing to live your life on your terms.”

“She doesn’t like my terms.”

Well, it’s not for her to decide, is it?”

“She makes it seem that way.”

“You’ll get through.” She pecked her on the cheek. “Come and talk to me later tonight if you want.”

Meg nodded. “Thanks.”

Anna came back into the kitchen and Meg waved at her before she moved to the back door, where she retrieved her hat before she went outside. Across from the dining room and kitchen about thirty yards away stood the two-story structure dubbed “the motel,” modeled after a Northwoods hunting lodge for the guests, its rooms accessible from the outside. Covered verandas sheltered the walkways. Her father lived in quarters just off the office building, also across from the motel, and the hands lived in bunkhouses. All the structures surrounded a large packed-dirt parking area, like wagons circling a campsite.

She took the outside steps of the lodge to the second floor, where she lived. She alone occupied this level, unless they had extra guests. Otherwise, she kept the extra rooms closed up. Maybe the reporter’s story would bring them enough business that they’d be able to open these extra rooms. Her bootheels made hollow sounds on the wood and the metal roof of the veranda creaked and popped in the sun. She sighed as she opened the heavy wooden door into her foyer, hung her hat on one of the pegs near the entrance, and walked down the hallway toward her bedroom, where she kept a phone.

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Sports and diversity rule!

Let’s talk inspiration.

Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the NBA, signed a temporary contract to play with the Brooklyn Nets on February 23rd, will now remain a Net for the remainder of the season. Collins made a huge statement by selecting #98, in honor of Matthew Shepard and touching off a bit of controversy from the usual cast of blowhards taking to the airways following the announcement. imagesCollins could have skipped the added attention by simply keeping the #46 jersey the team first gave him. But he felt strongly about making a statement by way of tribute to Matthew Shepard. Yesterday, the announcement that the Nets had signed Collins for the remainder of the season proved that he’s first and foremost a talented basketball player, who just happens to be gay.

Onto hockey, where a kick-butt goalie from the gold medal winning Canadian Olympic Team made the jump to the US Southern Professional Hockey League. Big deal you say? Well, hell yeah, because this outstanding goal-tender is Canadian Women’s Hockey star Shannon Szabados, who made history last Saturday night as the first female to play professional hockey on a men’s team. As the net minder for her men’s college team in Alberta Canada, Shannon set records for the most shutouts in a season (5) and lowest goals against average. Szabados downplays the significance of her gender, but there is no doubt about her impact as a trailblazer.

Photo by Mike Haskey mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com
Photo by Mike Haskey mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

When asked if she hopes to advance to the NHL, Szabados says only that she’s focused on her current team. I’ll bet the NHL is keeping an eye on this goaltender with a mane of curls hanging out the back of her helmet. A record-setting goaltender, who just happens to be a woman.

Amy Purdy in SochiAnd did you get a chance to check out the Paralympics? If not, you missed a spectacular display of heart. All I can say is wow. The big news of the games was the US men’s sled hockey team winning gold medal vs. the Russians in a tight 1-0 contest. Marine Corps vet Josh Sweeney scored the lone goal of the game to lift his team to victory. Another fantastic story is Paralympian Amy Purdy, who became a double amputee after a severe meningitis infection at 19. Instead of giving up, Amy doubled down on her dream to be a snowboarder. Purdy is now one of the top ranked US adaptive snowboarders and was instrumental in the sport being included in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. She won bronze in the inaugural run. Amy and Josh are world class athletes and Olympic medalists, who just happen to be differently-abled.

So, in the flood of over-paid, prima donna professional athletes, who seem to constantly act out or fall short of our probably unrealistic expectations, I thought it would be great to celebrate those who stand out despite all the odds stacked against them. They compete in their sport of choice and succeed, even when the world is telling them they cannot. There’s a great lesson in that for all of us. Even if you don’t have the luck o’ the Irish, grit and perseverance can get you where you need to go. Never give up.

Peace. Thanks for reading.

~LM

Music & Literature: Write, Read, & Roll, by Lynette Mae and Cole Armocida

Does music inspire writing? Cole Armocida joins us at Women and Words to talk about creativity in her music. Check it out.

Women and Words

Music & Literature: Write, Read, & Roll

Hey gang, it’s Lynette Mae. The release of Rebound prompted a few discussions about the links between music, lyrics and the longer written word. So, I thought it would be cool to have rocker Cole Armocida tell us about how she’s inspired to create her incredible music. For me, this project opened up creative spaces in my soul and the power has been nothing short of amazing. Now here’s Cole to start us off with her musical inspirations, and I’ll chime in later with some additional thoughts.

Here’s Cole:

Cole2013PromoPic copyGet lit and make music.

No, that’s not what I mean. Not all musicians create under the influence. Lit, as in literature. Yes, I’ve been inspired by some books to write lyrics. Inspiration can come from a storyline of a novel, a character, or even just one sentence. Movies, television shows, news programs, and…

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