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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Rebound Preview

Hello, everyone! My publisher has just released a preview for my upcoming release, Rebound, which is set for release on February 14th. Valentines Day! Also, we still have some pretty incredible news upcoming for this release, so stay tuned. Thanks for reading. ~LM

Rebound Preview Here!

When the preview appears, just click at the edge of the page to turn the page, just like a real book!Image

Rebound is coming!

Sapphire Books 2014
Sapphire Books 2014

Women’s basketball star Conner Maguire has the world by the tail. She’s at the top of her game, in demand, and life is good. One day the unthinkable happens and her world is ripped apart. That split second event forces Conner to re-evaluate her entire existence. A beautiful warrior with a shattered heart and incomparable spirit may be the key to conquering her fears, if Conner can open her heart enough to see the world from a new perspective.

Lynette Mae and Wild Girls, Wild Nights

“Risking it All” is a story that I first began writing about the experiences of a lesbian couple who are both police officers. It’s a unique situation to be the cop taking risks, and at the same time, the wife or girlfriend of the cop, fearing for your lover’s safety. During the course of our careers, my wife and I have had a few instances where we were thrown into some dangerous situations simultaneously. Initially, I had intended to write an action story, focusing on the police drama. But, very quickly, I realized that wasn’t the real story.

This is a tale about two women thrust into a harrowing, life-and-death experience, complicated by the very real danger to the one they love. Duty prevails. The women are professionals who do not hesitate to act. But it’s the aftermath that truly pushes their emotional boundaries. The extremes are amplified—terror and euphoria—action and reaction. Sometimes no words can convey the depth of intensity that translates to pure physical need. Our heroines are living on the edge and risking it all. They live and love with intensity and passion.

Thanks for reading,

~LM

Everyone who posts a comment will automatically be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Wild Girls, Wild Nights!

And hey, if you love stories about lesbians in uniform, living and loving in the midst of danger and suspense, you’ll love the writing of Lynette Mae. LM’s first novel, “Faithful Service, Silent Hearts”, was a 2012 Golden Crown Literary Society Finalist for best dramatic fiction and debut author. Her current release is “Tactical Pursuit”, a 2013 Lambda Literary Award and Golden Crown Literary Award finalist. Both novels are now available from Sapphire Books.

Religious defiance, thank God!

I’m a Christian and I’m perplexed. Can somebody please explain to me why folks who profess to believe in the teachings of Jesus are forever bastardizing his message?

Our most recent example of faith-based hypocrisy comes today from a story about a father who loves his son and simply wants to support his son completely. The Reverend Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, a minister of the United Methodist Church, was asked by his son to officiate his wedding. What an awesome thing, right? Right! Except that his son was marrying a man. Uh, oh. Dr. Olgletree says that his son’s request inspired him and he readily accepted. Two of the reverend’s children are gay, and he loves and accepts them unconditionally. His daughter previously married her partner in a non-Methodist ceremony. 

Rev. Olgletree conducted the ceremony for his son back in October, and no doubt, it was a joyous family occasion. Then, one of the reverend’s fellow ministers saw the wedding announcement in the newspaper, and apparently felt it his sacred duty to tattle on Rev. Ogletree to the local bishop. Rev. Randall C. Paige and several other ministers object to Rev. Ogletree’s actions, citing violations of canonical law. They say the ceremony “is a chargeable offense under the rules of the church” and that breaking the laws are not the proper way to bring about change.

Really? Umm… Jesus broke the laws of his lifetime by renouncing Old Testament teachings publicly, throwing the money lenders out of the temple, cavorting with known prostitutes, pretty much thumbing his nose at much of the religious doctrine of the day, and the list goes on. Seems like he thought that breaking the law was exactly the way to bring about change at times. Unjust laws meant to demonize or marginalize minority groups are always overturned by acts of civil disobedience, because morally unjust laws cannot and should not stand. So, how is it that these religious scholars would assert that breaking the rules is not the way to affect change? Guess they skipped those parts of the New Testament. The complaining reverends say that Rev. Olgetree’s actions injure the church because they “foster confusion about what the church stands for.” Shouldn’t the church be standing for love, honesty, family, and stuff like that?

The Rev. Olgletree is awe-inspiring. “Sometimes, when what is officially the law is wrong, you try to get the law changed,” he said. “But if you can’t, you break it.” He challenged Rev. Paige, saying, “Dr. King broke the law, Jesus of Nazareth broke the law…So you mean you should never break the law, no matter how unjust it is?” I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the premise our great country was founded upon, and I hope we never lose that belief in standing up for “right” over “law”. Rules and laws are made in given periods of time, based upon the knowledge folks have to work with. But, we evolve. We grow. We change.

These changes come largely through interacting with people who may be different than ourselves. That’s why I always say that we change hearts and minds one person at a time. The good reverend understands the teachings of Christianity call us to be loving and compassionate toward one another, not judgmental or hateful. When we open our hearts to the lives and love of others, we cannot help but grow. That’s the human experience. The reverend, only wanting to fully participate in his son’s marriage, as any parent would, unwittingly became a symbol of religious defiance. He said, “I actually wasn’t thinking of it as an act of civil disobedience or church disobedience. I was thinking of it as a response to my son.”

Amen, reverend.

Owning our authentic voice

Hi gang. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of living and expressing our authentic voice. In my life, just as many of you, I’ve experienced homophobia in various forms. I lived as a closeted lesbian in the US Army in the pre-DADT days, when just the whisper of innuendo was enough to get you hauled into an interrogation room and run out of the military—no matter how competent or capable you were. Being lesbian automatically made you unfit. After a couple of near misses under investigation, I came to realize that I couldn’t live dishonestly and left the military with a heavy heart. But I made myself a promise to live my truth and never again let anyone else bully or define me, or make me feel that my authentic self was less than worthy.

I read the most recent coming out news this week about NBA center Jason Collins. Collins is receiving the distinction of being the first pro athlete to come out. He follows US soccer star Megan Rapinoe last summer and Baylor women’s basketball star Brittney Griner, who will be member of the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA this season. In his interview with Sports Illustrated, Collins talked about the same need to live authentically. It’s a common thread virtually all of us share.

But to live and express ourselves authentically, while universal, is a bit different for each of us as individuals. LGBT people are still marginalized by the world. Although acceptance is increasing exponentially, there is still a large segment of our society that feels that we really ought to shut up about it, already. Why do we have to keep telling them? They wonder. Because it’s still legal to discriminate against LGBT people. Because DOMA is still on the books, denying same sex couples the same benefits as straight couples. This means LGBT members of the military, law enforcement, and fire fighters can continue to risk their very lives for you, but their families will not receive the same survivor benefits as their peers.

So, back to the question: Why do I write lesbian fiction? I write lesbian fiction because I want to tell my story—our stories—authentically. I don’t want to ignore the totality of our experiences as lesbians. I don’t mean to disparage, but let’s remember that as women, we do have a different experience even from that of gay men. Yes, the human condition is universal in many ways, but to deeply grasp the emotion and experience of any human, one cannot edit out sexuality. Humans are the only species whose sexuality is inextricably tied to emotion, and this is especially true for women. I want to write stories with lesbian heroines who are strong, capable, sensitive, and yes, sexual.

I’ve seen a lot of discussion recently surrounding the debate of sex in lesbian fiction. Both sides have valid points. Every writer has her own style, and decides how best to tell her story. That’s as it should be. However, I don’t believe including the depictions of the sexuality in my characters automatically demeans my story. I get the irritation that the label “lesbian fiction” is sometimes equated with pornography. That is demeaning on it’s face. It says what the straight world has always said to me: “I can accept that you’re a lesbian, I just don’t want to hear about it.” Why do I have to edit out the sexuality of my characters in order to be taken seriously? Wait. I only have to edit out the sexuality of the lesbians. That’s really the truth. A lesbian author who has had success in the mainstream market says that her publisher doesn’t care about her sexuality, as long as she writes a good story. I’m sure that’s true. They also say she writes badass women characters. She does, and I’m a fan.

But. Why can’t the leading ladies be badass and lesbian? And if they are, why can’t we see them as authentic, whole beings—sex and all? That’s the character I want to read and write about, and if the sex works within the context of the story, I’ll include it. I read a wide variety of books—fiction, non-fiction, mainstream and lesfic. I think every author should write the story they want to write. When this debate comes up periodically, I fear that what we’re actually doing is applying the mainstream, straight world’s biases in the reverse. The straight stereotype accepts kick-ass women, so long as they still need a man between the sheets. The straight male execs at Amazon are the ones who lump us into one category based on the ‘lesbian’ label. Let’s agree that’s wrong, rather than fighting amongst ourselves over how much or little sex determines whether we’ll be taken seriously. When we throw stones at each other for including sex, we’re telling ourselves that depicting our sexuality automatically shames us. I disagree.

Right now, I can’t find those positive representations of myself, or lesbians in general, out in the mainstream, straight, fiction world. Therefore, I choose to write those stories. My writing is my way of taking back my own power to live and express my authentic self. So, for me, I’m not writing lesfic as some lead-up to hitting it big in the mainstream world. Unless the mainstream world is ready to accept unabashed, fully developed lesbian characters. I pray that day arrives. Until then, I am proud to wear the label: “Lesbian Author”.

Thanks for reading~ LM

Planting Peace and Shocked Rants

Hi gang. I want to talk about a couple of news items that caught my eye yesterday.

In entertainment news, singer Michelle Schocked decided to end her musical set over the weekend with an anti-gay rant, according to those in attendance at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. Ms. Schocked, an alternative/folk singer who had some success in the 80’s and 90’s, has previously danced on the edge of coming out. In 1990, she talked to Outlines, a Chicago gay newspaper, about having her first relationship with a woman.

By 2008, Shocked seemed to struggle with her identity, as quoted in the Dallas Voice: “According to my Bible, which I didn’t write, homosexuality is immoral. But homosexuality is no more less a sin than fornication. And I’m a fornicator with a capital F. I like the sound of being called an honorary lesbian and the comparisons to black disco divas. But right now, I’m a dug-in-the-heels fundamentalist who’s not too happy about it.” In 2012, Shocked has apparently decided to take up the banner of hatred in the name of fundamentalist religion. Over the weekend, she ranted at her show, reportedly telling the audience she feared gay marriage would “destroy the world”, and they could go on Twitter and say, “Michelle Shocked hates fags.” She mostly emptied out the club at that point. Shocked herself Tweeted later, “Truth is leading to painful confrontation.”

I wonder if she was talking about the crowd or her own internalized homophobia? I don’t personally care if she’s gay or straight, but can somebody tell me why every time one of these “converted” born-again Christians speaks, they have to launch into such vile and hateful language? Are they trying to convince themselves or everyone else? I’m going to Tweet to Michelle: Don’t hate yourself, God loves you either way.

In more uplifting news, did you see that the Westboro community in Topeka Kansas has a new Equality House? That’s right, and it’s located right across the street from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, run by the fundamentalist homophobe Fred Phelps. Planting Peace is a diverse charity organization with projects ranging from environmental causes to opening orphanages worldwide that rescue children from the street. Planting Peace has now opened the Equality House in Phelp’s own neighborhood.

Aaron Jackson, one of the group’s founders, said, “I read a story about Josef Miles, a 10-year-old kid who counter-protested the Westboro Baptist Church by holding the sign that says ‘God Hates No One,'” Jackson told The Huffington Post “I didn’t know anything about the church or where they were located, but that story kept popping up. And one night I wondered, Where is this church? I got on Google Earth, and I was ‘walking down the road,’ and I did a 360 view. And I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign sitting in the front yard of a house. Right away it hit me, Oh my gosh, I could buy a house in front of the WBC! And immediately I thought: And I’m going to paint that thing the color of the pride flag.”

Today, volunteers are painting the Equality House in rainbow colors. Yes, the sound you hear is the crowd going wild. Phelps is in the business of intimidation and bullying. In my experience the only way to stop a bully is to stand up to them. Let’s see how Phelps and his hate-mongering followers handle a neighbor who isn’t going to cower in their presence, or worse, ignore them in the hopes they’ll go away. The sign hanging on the Westboro Baptist Church states the same message Michelle Shocked proclaimed: God Hates Fags.

No. God hates hate. Clearly, these adults are not smarter than a fifth grader.

We shouldn’t be shocked by either of these stories. There will always be people like Phelps who use religion to justify their bigotry and hate, and sadly, their will always be those like Shocked who internalize the twisted message and lash out as a bizarre defense mechanism. I feel sorry for them because hate only breeds hate and what you give always comes back to you. Be the change you wish to see, right? Planting peace. What a concept.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading~
LM

Why is this so hard to believe?

Many of us were saddened by the news of the passing of CW2 Charlie Morgan. It’s a tragic end to a story about a woman who lived a life of service in the shadows, during the years when DADT was the policy of the US military. Like so many other lesbian and gay service members, Charlie served her country at a huge personal cost. After the repeal of DADT, while many others still feared repercussions with DOMA still on the books, Charlie had the courage to tell her story.

Charlie served proudly in the New Hampshire National Guard for seventeen years. More than ten years ago, she and her wife, Karen, entered into a civil union in Vermont, and last year wed in their home state. They have a daughter who is eligible for healthcare and survivor benefits, but her wife is not. Charlie simply wanted to take care of her family, just like any other responsible spouse.

Charlie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. She underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. When she was said to be cancer-free, she was deployed to Kuwait for a year’s tour. But last September, she was told the cancer had returned and was in her lymph nodes. The cancer was now incurable. So, like any other dedicated spouse, Charlie felt a renewed urgency to fight for a change in the law because that was the only way to secure the benefits that her family deserved. The benefits she earned during her years of service to this country.

And Charlie knew first hand how much those benefits meant. Her father had been killed in an accident while on active duty when she was three, and his survivor benefits were her mother’s source of support. But with DOMA still on the books, her wife would not receive those same benefits. So, Charlie wrote to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. Her requests for a meeting were ignored at first. Finally, when a news organization got involved, a meeting was granted, but after she made the trip to DC, the Speaker sent an aide to meet with Charlie. She told her story, told him her time was short, and that her family needed their help. The aide listened and then told her the Speaker would continue to defend DOMA.

When Charlie’s wife, Karen, was asked about what a repeal of DOMA and full recognition as a military dependent would mean, it is said that she stated it would be great to be able to go to the commissary to shop for her family. The simplicity of a request to perform such a normal task is heartbreaking in its significance.

Charlie’s letter to the Speaker said, “Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Active Guard, I laid my life on the line for my country, and now I need my country to protect and care for my family. My wife and daughter face an uncertain future, unable to receive the same family support services as our counterparts who render the same service, take the same risks, and make the same sacrifices.” For those who serve in our military and sacrifice so much for our freedoms, that doesn’t seem like such a huge request.

Charlie Morgan lost her battle with cancer on Sunday. Charlie, like every other lesbian or gay service member—or indeed, every lesbian and gay citizen—wanted exactly what you want, America. The chance to live freely and receive the same benefits for hard work as any other citizen in this country.

That’s all we want. Why is this so hard to believe?

Peace~LM

Blog Hop: The next big thing

Hi gang! Wow it’s great to be back. I’ll have a longer post with a few announcements coming in the next couple of days, explaining what’s been going on in LM’s world and reconnecting with my peeps. (That’s you!) But for now, my good friend Cheyne Curry, fabulous author and film maker, tagged me in her blog hop tour. Thanks Cheyne! Today’s topic is the next big thing. For me, that’s a story near and dear to my heart. Read on…

 

What is the working title of your book?

My current WIP is Rebound
Where did the idea come from for the book?

The story came to me from watching a few simply amazing people in my life who have flourished despite adversity that they’ve experienced. So, I used their examples as a starting point for the story and let my own creativity take over from there.
What genre does your book fall under?

Lesbian Romance/ Drama
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I get asked this question from time to time with my other stories. I suppose it’s fun for folks to imagine what actors might be cast to play various characters in stories they enjoy. For me, I prefer to stick to writing. My characters are composites of people and experiences I’ve had throughout my life, so that would make it difficult for me to decide. I’d love to hear readers’ picks though. LOL

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A twist of fate can alter our entire reality and force us to dig deep in search of our authentic self.
What is the longer synopsis of your book?

I haven’t written a complete synopsis, but here’s a bit to give you an idea:

Conner Maguire has it all. She’s a professional athlete on top of her game, with a gorgeous partner, and all the trappings of fame. A twist of fate changes everything, leaving Conner alone to rebuild her world and even her identity. Coach Shawn Tyler isn’t cutting Conner any slack. She’s challenging, frustrating, and beautiful. Shawn might hold the key to Conner’s future, if they each can get past their individual pride long enough to open their hearts to new possibilities.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Rebound will be published by Sapphire Books in 2013.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It’s still a work in progress.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?

This seems to be related to the question above. I was inspired to write this story by the incredibly talented and strong individuals in my life who rise above any challenge, despite being differently-abled. I think all of us wonder if we would have what it takes to overcome a sudden injury that completely alters our physical or mental reality. Most of us are stronger than we know. The key is understanding the truth that nearly all of what the outside world sees is not who we really are. But human nature usually prevents revealing our truest selves unless something rocks our world, good or bad. This story explores that phenomenon.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

While not a sequel to Faithful Service, Silent Hearts and Tactical Pursuit, Rebound tells the story of Conner, Mac McKinley’s young cousin. Readers first met Conner in Tactical Pursuit.

 

Next Wednesday check out these author’s blogs to find out about their Next Big Thing. I’m tagging Isabella, Jett Abbott, and Linda Kay Silva.

It’s those damned homosexuals again!

Science? Bah! It’s those damned homosexuals again!

Have you seen the latest ultra-conservative preacher’s assertion that the current storm on record—Hurricane Sandy—is our fault? The LGBT community that is. You know the story. These preachers can’t help themselves, every time there is a devastating weather event, it’s because of the gays and lesbians. Now, hurricane Sandy has already plowed through the Caribbean, causing untold damage, and sadly, the deaths of some 69 souls and is bearing down on the east coast of the US. Rather than mobilizing their religious brethren in community efforts for rescue or other assistance to those in harms way, these “men of the cloth” instead use the tragedy once again to stir up their sinister brand of hatred for the LGBT community.

Of course, there is a long history of this false prophecy fear mongering among the hardliners of the religious right. John McTernan is only one of a sad list of so-called Christian leaders who regularly employ such tactics to get attention. There’s Pat Robertson, who has famously asserted that the LGBT community is responsible for Hurricane Katrina. 9/11, according to Jerry Falwell, is the evildoing of our community as well. Fred Phelps has his own special niche blaming the deaths of US service members on our country’s “acceptance” of homosexuality. Presumably, if we were all imprisoned or worse, all casualties of war and every natural disaster would cease. Our military would be invincible, impervious to every bullet or bomb, and never again would we see a hurricane, earthquake, or tornado, I guess. Wow.

What about science, you say? Hogwash! Scientific theories regarding climate change and evolution get in the way of the fire and brimstone scare tactics. Better to relegate groups of citizens to the realm of godless heathens, responsible for every ill of humanity than to accept reasoning or scientific theory. These same types of preachers once used race to demonize and blame, but now that’s passé, and besides they can get a lot more fundamentalist churches on their side on the issue of homosexuality. Ahh, now here’s common ground for biblical ultra-fundamentalists, regardless of race.

I realize that these types of preachers have always tried to use images of “vile” human behaviors to justify what they warn is God’s wrath, and many times the message strays into the demonization of a particular group. Jews, blacks, Asians, communists, Muslims, Catholics, gays, and lesbians, have all been targets of the same ideology at different points in history. Of course, forces of nature that we cannot control are events most easily exploited to summon the images of the wrath of a vengeful god, and who better to blame for terrible misfortune than some “other” group? Sadly, it’s a recurring pattern for those who supposedly are God’s messengers to the world, regardless of religious affiliation. I’d like to suggest to these folks that they would better serve their fellow citizens by demonstrating consistent charity and love. Tell your flock how to unite for the good of humanity, especially in times of hardship or natural disaster. If all of these preachers tried it, imagine the good they might actually accomplish.

Thanks for reading~LM