International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day!

When I saw that today was officially designated International Women’s Day, I thought, that’s pretty cool. My next thought was, what does it mean? I consulted Google, which has a snazzy IWD logo displayed to commemorate the occasion. The history buff in me naturally wanted to know about the origins of this celebration. I discovered that International Women’s Day is over one hundred years old! In 1908, 15,000 women marched in NYC, demanding better wages, shorter workdays, and OMG—the right to vote. The first official observance was in 1911, amid the ongoing fight for women’s suffrage. Wow. This is information I could really use.

International Women’s Day is about action. This year’s theme is “Inspiring Change.” Women in the early 20th century took great risks in stepping out to demand equality, but they did it because fundamental rights are worth it. Women like Susan B. Anthony blazed a fearless trail for equality that has become our birthright. Because I’m a writer, I loved reading about Katharine Lee Bates, the educator, poet, and songwriter who wrote “America the Beautiful.” Bates was also a lesbian, who penned, “Yellow Clover: A Remembrance of Love”, a tribute to her partner of 25 years, Katherine Coman, Dean of Wellesley College, upon her death in 1922. I can only imagine how difficult it was for two women to live openly as lesbians at the dawn of the 20th Century, and yet, they lived authentically and left an indelible mark on the world.

That’s the challenge for all of us: To do our part to make this world a little better for those who come behind us. Women have made great strides, but there is still so much more to do. It is said: I can’t do everything, but I can do one small thing. So, I recommit on this International Women’s Day to use my humble gift for writing to continue to portray strong, lesbian characters in my stories. I will never shy away from tackling a tough subject for the sake of comfort, whether in my blog or in a future novel. And on this International Women’s Day, I celebrate all women in the world. You are fabulous.

Be proud. Be bold. Do something for the cause.

Thanks for reading~

LM

American Heroes

I’ve written before about my experience serving in the pre-DADT military, and the status of lesbian & gay service members has continued to be cause near and dear to my heart. In the days before & during DADT, the military was a less-than-welcoming place for LGBT service members. Those who served lived with the constant fear of “outing” and investigation, arrest, courts martial, and sometimes even physical attack. In every case, discovery meant certain expulsion from the military, regardless of one’s record of service or ability, and the less-than-honorable discharge would become a proverbial scarlet letter, affecting employment and one’s standing in the community forever.

For those who remained in the military, the ever-present fear kept them firmly entrenched in the closet, unable to speak openly or acknowledge their own families in public. I wrote a short story a few years back about a lesbian soldier whose partner endured the indignities of military send-offs and welcome home ceremonies that never allowed for the emotional connections or public displays of affection afforded to their straight counterparts. One didn’t risk a kiss or tender touch, let alone expect to be treated with the same dignity as other military spouses upon your wife or husband’s death. That was just the way it was.

Then history shifted. DADT was repealed in 2011, but standing federal law still prevented recognition of LGBT patriots’ families. Just before DOMA fell in 2013, I received a letter from an Army National Guard Sergeant, who had read my first novel about a lesbian serving in the military. AJ had already completed a tour of duty in Iraq, and was preparing for yet another deployment to Afghanistan with her unit. We struck up an email correspondence in the ensuing months, comparing notes on the military’s progress and the progress still needed. She shared her fears that her family wouldn’t be taken care of should something happen to her, because marriage still hadn’t been possible prior to her deployment. It angered and saddened me to hear her story, knowing there were so many others like AJ, serving our country in the midst of a war zone, yet still unable to quite find that elusive security for their families.  

 DOMA was struck down while AJ was deployed. Soon afterward, policies were revised that would protect military families. More states repealed their laws to either allow same-sex marriage or to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. This month, Virginia became the latest state to recognize other state’s marriages. Virginia. That just happens to be AJ’s home state. Her Guard Unit hails from the Commonwealth of Virginia and they were leaving Afghanistan any day. The symbolism was something I couldn’t ignore. Sometimes fate is pretty cool. But expressions of love are profound.

1960320_581351918619000_935343532_nOn Saturday, The 1710th Transportation Company arrived home in Virginia to the cheers of their loved ones. Facebook was flooded with joyous and loving pictures of many reunions, with one that stuck out like a beacon in the night. In the crowd stood a woman proudly holding up a large hand-made sign that said: “My wife is MY American Hero.” She stood there among the other wives and husbands without fear or reservation of any kind because this was her right, to stand there beaming with pride, awaiting her soldier. Her wife. The image and its significance brought tears to my eyes. Catie’s one simple act of love and devotion. A brilliant testament to a human victory finally won.

The march of equality moves on. Welcome home to all our American Heroes.

Indeed.

Thanks for reading. Peace~ LM

 

The Different at the Lammy’s

I was in New York last week for the amazing honor of being a finalist at the Lambda Literary Awards. The nomination, my first-ever trip to New York City, and sharing the company of so many gifted writers, were experiences that I will long remember. Little did I know the most important lesson I would come to learn had little to do with the awards and everything to do with humanity and real strength.

My nephew met Sandy and I at our hotel. He made the nine-hour bus trip to support me and I was thrilled to have him with us. Because we live so far apart, I rarely see Chris, and it’s rarer still that I have the opportunity to observe him simply going through his day. Chris suffered a spinal cord injury as a young child, and uses a wheelchair to get around. He’s luckier than some because he has the use of his upper body, but still the simple act of traversing a city block is a challenge that I had never realized until spending the day with him. I lost track of how many times the ‘cuts’ in the corner curbs, designed to be ramps for the disabled, were blocked by piles of garbage, parked cars, dumpsters, or even clueless, able-bodied people oblivious to his attempt to cross the street. I was appalled at the number of businesses in the city had only stairs to access them. It made me angry for him. On more than one occasion, I watched taxi drivers look directly at him, his arm raised to hail them, and they drove right by. They made my blood boil.

And then I realized something amazing. Chris was always smiling. The injustices I witnessed and reacted to were things that I guess are commonplace to him. He noticed my irritation and said, “It’s okay. I’m used to it. We just do the best we can; either figure out a way around the problem—or not.” From that moment, I began to watch in wonder at the positive way he interacted with the world around him. He always sought the bright side of everything, and it’s true what they say about getting what you give. I noticed that people around him responded to his positive outlook and beaming smile. I had always known Chris was an athlete and motivational speaker, but to see the way he interacts with everyone he meets was incredible.

At the Lammy’s, Chris made more than a few new friends. To think I had been worried he would be bored at an LGBT Literary event. Ha! Even there, he made easy connections. In his wise way he drew a correlation between the biases endured by LGBT people and those with disabilities. He related a story to a group of attendees about how he’s often told by religious people that they will pray for him. “Pray for me?” Chris said. “What they’re saying is that I’m damaged or unworthy.” How many of us have gotten a similar message because we’re queer? Chris instinctively understood the parallel. “We don’t need their prayers to be fixed, there’s nothing wrong with us.”

Then author Nicola Griffith took the stage to accept her Outstanding Mid-career Writer’s Award. Her words summed up what I had yet to analyze:  “I’ve spent my whole writing life feeling like a stranger in a strange land: the foreigner, the cripple, the queer. But tonight this award says: You belong here. We value who you are and what you do. We see you, we know you, you’re one of us.” Chris squeezed my hand and I realized that was what has really bonded us. Although I’ll never know the difficulty he overcomes daily, being one of the different is the shared experience that makes us the same.

When you get right down to it, isn’t that true of everyone?

Peace~LM

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.

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.

First Review of Tactical Pursuit!

Terry Baker, prolific lesfic reader and reviewer, graciously agreed to accept an advance copy of my newest novel, Tactical Pursuit, for review.

Terry said, “Faithful Service, Silent Hearts was a brilliant debut book. Tactical Pursuit is stupendous. I wondered how Lynette Mae was going to top her debut book, now I know and I needn’t have worried. She did. Tactical Pursuit is a fast paced page turner from the very first page right through to it’s dramatic ending. I simply could not put this book down.”

Read the rest of Terry’s review of Tactical PursuitTerry’s Lesfic Review of Tactical Pursuit

And don’t forget, Tactical Pursuit is coming in 6 days! You know you’re ready!
Thanks for reading~LM

Cover up—Book Covers and our everyday lives.

Do we judge books by their covers? Is that good or bad?

My upcoming novel, Tactical Pursuit, is equal parts action and romance. When I thought about a cover to best represent the story, I knew immediately that I wanted to depict three things: Danger. Excitement. Sexy. My publisher agreed and I think the cover turned out fabulous. Check it out and tell me if you agree:

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But when I posted the cover, not everyone was thrilled. That’s okay, I respect everone’s opinion, and differences make for great discussions. A few folks lamented that I was pushing the sex and not the “quality” of the story. My response? The cover represents both. Remember, I wanted danger, excitement, and sexy. Is there some rule in lesbian fiction that says if I have a sexy cover I’m somehow demeaning my work? I guess that’s the rub for me. Are we still bowing to outside forces and ridiculous messages asserting that as lesbians we are only interested in sex? What the messages are really saying is that we have no right to outwardly acknowledge our sexuality. We should hide that side of us for fear of offending straight folks. Whatever.

Writing is entertainment, plain and simple. Those of you who have read my work know that I try to tackle some pretty deep subjects, but I do it in the context of the personal lives of my characters, including their romantic sides. I’m a pop fiction writer, after all. Do I have to sacrifice one side of the story for another? For me the answer is no. Will all of my stories contain sexual content? I don’t know. For now they do, because I’m committed to showing my characters as whole, complete, humans without apology. I’ve said before that this is why I choose to write in this genre. I write for the lesbian community, and I want to engage and entertain my audience.

My author buddy, Isabella, is known for pushing the envelope with her book covers, and we’ve talked about this issue many times. We want to engage readers with our stories, but first we have to get your attention, right? Isn’t that what a cover is for? I’d argue that Isabella has the sexy cover thing down, and it’s working for her, from what I can see. Talk about dangerous and sexy. Here’s her latest cover:

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So, here are a few questions for you, lesbian fiction fans: How important is a cover when you’re looking for a book? Will a cover like Tactical Pursuit or American Yakuza catch your attention to make you want to know what the book is about? Is this kind of edgier cover art something that will increase sales, and thereby introduce more readers to lesbian fiction overall? That’s the real goal, isn’t it? Selling books increases readership, which in turn raises the profile of our craft, and hopefully opens a few more minds. So, if my cover catches a reader’s attention and then they see Isabella’s book, and then that leads them deeper into the lesfic listings to discover other lesbian authors, excellent. I think whatever expands the horizon can only be a good thing for us all.

I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks for reading.

~LM