Making lesbians happy – one book at a time

We can start with the iconic movie Jaws. The hype was huge that summer. I was 14 when I stood in a line that wrapped around the block just to get a ticket. Halfway through the movie, I ran to the ladies’ room and vomited. Then I went back to my seat, cowered, and watched the whole thing peeking between my fingers. I haven’t put a foot in the ocean since.

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I also don’t swim in a lake or a river for the same reason. You never know… a shark might swim up into the Gulf of Mexico, into the Mississippi, and end up in the Illinois river. You can’t argue with me about this logic. It’s an emotional decision. And sharks scare the poop out of me!

The Rose starring Bette Midler put me on my current path. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the magnificent acting of the Divine Miss M. That scene in the phone booth? Damn. It still makes me tear up just thinking about it. After that movie I said out loud for the first time: I want to go into theatre. I want to do that. Okay, so I changed from acting to writing, but still… I want to write a scene that good.

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All That Jazz. I think it was Jessica Lange’s second movie? I dunno. I’m not going to look it up because I’m too lazy. That movie merged the best of two worlds for me: Broadway and movies. I decided to move to Los Angeles one day and work in movies so I could be a part of something that wonderful. Which I did. Move to L.A., I mean. I still haven’t written anything near as wonderful as All That Jazz. Plus, Bob Fosse was a god.

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The Deer Hunter. The movie didn’t immediately affect me. What happened was I picked up extra work as a Personal Aid to the man, Louis Garfinkle, who created the story and co-wrote the screenplay. This was a decade and a half after The Deer Hunter was released. Lou was stricken with Parkinson’s. The horrible sickness and shaking that went with the disease prohibited him from writing. He couldn’t hold a pencil or sit at a computer. But that couldn’t keep him from what he loved to do. I spent a summer sitting by his bed while he dictated a new screenplay to me. I simply wrote it down for him, word for word. It was a crash course in screenwriting. I got to see a master at work. I learned so much on so many levels: how not to give up, the mechanics of screenwriting, what makes a good story… All the while I was sitting beside the shelf that held his Oscar.

Harold and Maude. You don’t get any better than this movie. It is black humor at its finest. I began to try to weave black humor into all my work. And that scene where Ruth Gordon throws the ring into the lake? It makes me cry every time. The movie is a wonderful lesson: comedy can still have heart.

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Victor Victoria and Personal Best. I saw these two movies as a double feature. Only in Tulsa would they put these two movies together. I guess they thought they both had a gay theme, so… I walked out of the theatre and sat in my car, thinking, for an hour before driving home. It was the moment that everything crystallized for me. Thank you, Mariel Hemingway, for introducing to my big, bad lesbian self.

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Desert Hearts. I don’t really need to explain this one, do I? One of my favorite lines: “I’m keeping my robe on.”

“Well, everyone has their limits.”

That’s probably not verbatim, but once again, I’m too lazy to look it up. It’s that way in my head and I’m too stubborn to change it.

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These days I don’t have to look too far to find inspiration. Now that Amazon and Netflix are producing their own movies, old rules have flown out the window and there are scores of creative, mind-expanding movies.

What are some of my newest favorites? La La Land. Wonder Woman. Anything with Melissa McCarthy. Anything done by Christopher Guest. What a genius that man is! Plus, he has Jamie Leigh Curtis as his wife, proving that comedy is sexy AF.

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite movies are and how they changed your life or way of thinking.

*This book will change your life.

Old paper (primer)

*not true

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Reasons Trump Won

I’ve spent a lot of time since Nov. 8th depressed. I have tried to figure out why a moron would be elected our president. I have read several books on the subject, watched all of Robert Reich’s videos, and talked to people who voted for him. Here are the reasons (not in any order) that I believe we now have an idiot as our Commander in Chief:

1) Many Republicans vote for their party regardless. They do it because their mammy and pappy did it. They’re too lazy to think, so they always vote Republican.

2) Racism. We are suffering blowback because a black man was just president. Think of politics as a pendulum. It swings one way, then the other. We got a black president, and marriage equality. Now, we are suffering the blowback. Racism also applies to every Other – that is not white.

3) Misogyny. No way do men (who are still in charge of almost all things) want a woman president. It’s another blowback. See above.

4) Money. They are under the mistaken impression that they won’t have to pay so much in taxes with a Republican president. They’re wrong, but they don’t know that. Yet.

5) Money. They think Don the Con will bring their jobs back. Again, they’re wrong, but they don’t know that.

6) Abortion. We are still suffering blowback from a law that’s 43-years-old. They think they can change this law. They can’t. They lost that battle a long time ago. But it’s a GOP war cry, and they still believe it.

7) Donald Trump is a reality TV star (note the present tense). And as the old saying in Hollywood goes: “All publicity is good publicity.” And he got plenty of publicity. They think it was all good fun to elect him to the highest office in the land. They really think he’s going to point his tiny finger at somebody and say “You’re fired.” It’s not unusual for the general population to elect a celebrity to an office they are totally unqualified for. (Remember Reagan?) They saw his face weekly on their boob tube and liked his show. His name drew ratings. He was elected because he was familiar and funny to watch.

The media was responsible for a large portion of this.

The only thing this new reality show, “President Apprentice,” is lacking is a laugh track.

8) The Russians did it. I firmly believe Trump would not have won without help from the Russians. And it goes deep. Way deep. Past Don the Con, past Pence and Ryan. We’re going to find out that Putin is pulling the strings on most Republicans. And it’s been happening for a long time.

9) Republicans cornered the Christian market. People now equate Republicans with Christianity. They think Democrats are godless. This belief has been fifty years in the making.

What conservative Christians don’t seem to realize is that they always lose. Throughout history, they have always lost. In the long run. They lost over the abortion issue, over putting the ten commandments inside public school buildings, over allowing women in the military, over marriage equality… Yes, we have a long way to go before winning entirely. But we will get there.

But first, we need to understand the mind of the Republican. The don’t want healthcare for the masses. Or food stamps. Or a living wage. They want the Wild West times. Vigilante justice and every man for himself. Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. If you are an Other, handicapped, sick, or a woman, you are dispensable. Sad!

The only way to get  through to these people is to hit their pocketbooks. Then we could turn enough people win this war.

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I’m going to say it right up front. The photo with Kathy Griffin holding up a fake decapitated head of Trump did not offend me. I will admit that I can totally see how it would offend somebody else. Somebody who, say, hasn’t seen all the blood and gore on TV lately, or seen a movie in the past twenty years, or is blind and hasn’t seen any print media since the 50s.

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I don’t think KG should have apologized. She’s an artist. She had a right to to put out there whatever message she wanted even if most people didn’t like it. That’s what comedians do. Think about Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. They went to jail over some of the stuff they said. People hated them, booed them, protested them. Why? Because they dared to speak the truth.

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“If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, little Catholic school children would be wearing electric chairs on chains around their necks instead of crosses.” ~Lenny Bruce

 

And that’s exactly what KG did. She spoke the unvarnished truth. To me, the severed head represented my feelings about Trump. It was like she reached into my heart and pulled out the feelings I now have for Trump, the Republicans, and the so-called christians. Then she held up my blob of hate for all the world to see. She forced me to look at what was living inside me, and you know what? I didn’t like what I saw.

KG made me think. And I am grateful for that.

A lot of people on social media lambasted her for that photo. Especially the right. Then the left came back saying, Hey! What about all those lynching photos you showed of Obama? And all those effigies you burned?

Let me make this straight: A photo of lynching a black man is not equal to a photo of a white man’s decapitated head. Why? Because lynchings are reality. They have happened and are still happening. Black men are still afraid that it could happen to them—and for a very good reason. I don’t know of a single instance where a white man was decapitated by a small, white woman. The threat is extremely farfetched.

There is something else I want people to examine: KG is not the first celebrity to get in trouble for “going too far.” Remember the Dixie Chicks? At one of their concerts they said they didn’t support Bush and the backlash was immediate. How about Sinead O’Connor? She tore up a photo of the Pope and was hung out to dry. Amy Schumer? She has said that she doesn’t think the mentally ill should be allowed to own guns. That’s it. The mentally ill should not own guns. People walked out of her concerts for her saying that. The reason she said this is because a mentally ill man walked into a theatre that was showing her movie Trainwreck and killed two random, innocent women.

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“All we were fighting for was for people who have been convicted of domestic violence or if they are severely mentally ill, like, I don’t think you should be able to get a gun. … What a lot of people hear is: ‘You want to take all our guns!’ I’m like, ‘Oh my god, no, you seem great. You should get more guns.’ I’m just talking about the severely mentally ill — ‘You’re taking all our Amendments. What’s next — you’re going to fuck animals?’ And I’m like, ‘I’ve been fucking animals for my whole life, sir.’”

 

What do these recent celebrities have in common? Yes, they’re all liberals, but there’s something else. They are women. Our society does not let women speak their mind. Especially if they are of a liberal bent.

Need further proof? Here it is. Ted Nugent mimed looking down the scope of a rifle, said he’s going to blow Hillary away, and nothing happened to him. In fact, he was invited to the White House to meet Trump.

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Decked out in full-on camouflage hunting gear, Nugent wielded two machine guns while raging, “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary,” he continued, “You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.” (Quoted from Rolling Stone magazine)

 

I am not asking you to say or think what Kathy Griffin did was okay. I am, however, asking you to not to jump on the Republican bandwagon. She has the right to perform her art. She is an artist, a comedian, and that’s what they do. They bravely wade through all the muck that others won’t. They have the courage to hold that mirror up to society and make us look at it.

The conservative Republicans are behind this liberal outcry over KG’s photo. You know how a pack of dogs can turn on itself? That’s what they have made us do—turn on ourselves. As women, we can’t afford to do that.

 

Book Two is here!

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Why Lesfic?

The single most asked question I get as a writer is “Why don’t you write mainstream fiction?” In other words, why don’t I write about straight people?  Let me begin by saying that most of the askers have good intentions. They are under the impression that mainstream fiction is somehow better than lesbian fiction. They think I would make more money, or that I would gain more recognition writing mainstream. Both of those assumptions are false.

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The reason I write lesfic is because I am a lesbian. It has been said, “Write what you know.” It makes me wonder if a black person is ever asked “Why don’t you write about white people?” Did James Baldwin or Toni Morrison ever get asked that?

Was Amy Tan ever thought of as lesser because she wrote about her culture?

I am a lesbian. I write about lesbian lives, romances, dramas, and comedies because that is where my heart is. It’s what I know. I don’t understand straight people. I don’t understand a single freakin’ thing about their relationships. It’s like entering a foreign land where I don’t speak the language.

There’s just something about seeing myself on the page that excites me. It validates me. It makes me feel so not alone. I would rather read or write about lesbians any day over straight people.

Reason number two why I write lesfic: because that is where I am needed most. Mainstream fiction doesn’t need nor want me. I can make a mark in lesfic. I feel needed and appreciated there. I know with the advent of self-publishing we have a lot of lesfic writers. Some say too many. I say not enough. We need more lesbian writers. We need more lesbian readers. There is never too much of a good thing. Fifteen years ago, there was only Naiad. I’m ever glad they were there, but it was a monopoly. That meant whatever Naiad wanted, that’s all we had. Now that lesbians are self-publishing the stories are more varied than ever. Envelopes are being pushed. I love that! Homogenization is going away!

I love being the mirror that is held up before the eyes of lesbians. It makes me proud. I am so blessed that my work has a home. A home where I feel useful and wanted.

To all my readers out there—I don’t care if you’re lesbian, gay, straight, male or female, trans, genderqueer, bi, non-binary, or whatever—thank you for making me proud to be a lesfic writer.

Here’s my newest book!

Book Two of the True Heart series

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On Being Anonymous

When I was in the fifth grade I was in love with my math teacher. She was young, vibrant, wore a mini-skirt and sat on top of her desk. I sat on the front row and gazed up at her every day. I was completely head over heels. One day she put a box on her desk and told the class that it was a suggestion box. That we should drop notes in it on how to make her a better teacher, or how to make the class more engaging, or even tell her problems we’re having in her class. She promised to address each and every suggestion. She even said we could make the suggestions anonymously—we didn’t have to sign our names on the suggestions.

Suggestions Box

I stayed up all night writing my suggestion. I slipped it in the box the next day and waited impatiently for her to find it.

Here’s what my note said:

I love you. I love your mini-skirts. You have pretty legs. You have a pretty face. I love math. Yours truly, Miscellaneous.

She didn’t read the note aloud in class. And it was not until several years later that I realized I had mistakenly written miscellaneous instead of anonymous.

Which brings me to the point of this story. Since I didn’t have to sign my name to my note, it freed me to write something I would not have written otherwise. This isn’t always a bad thing. But sometimes it is.

Sometimes… Anonymity is a cloak for evil.

Think of the KKK. They covered their clothes and their faces. They did not want to be recognized for the evil deeds they committed. Hiding under a sheet was the only way they could lynch and burn. They took great pains to not be recognized.

This also brings me to the idea of reviewers on Amazon. Some are also known as trolls.

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Some also have many anonymous names – known as sock puppets.

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There are some nasty, nasty reviews out there. And what do most of them have in common? They are done anonymously. They are done hiding behind a fake name. Or in some cases, names. I am not equating a nasty review with the KKK, but the principle is the same. They are doing something they know is wrong and have to hide under a sheet to do it.

The next time you read a nasty review check and see if the commenter had the guts to leave their own name.

I am not advocating for all reviews to be positive or glowing. I am advocating for a modicum of kindness. Is it so hard to be kind? To write what you truly think in a review without being cruel or personal?

You want to see examples of cruelty? Read any comments on any article written about Hillary Clinton or Amy Schumer. Boy, do the nasties come out of the woodwork when a strong woman is mentioned. And, most of them, are written anonymously.

If you can’t sign your name next to something you write, then perhaps you should NOT be writing it?

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The Underground

Saxon and I went on another excellent adventure. This time we went to Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s only an hour drive from where we live. Arkansas, home of the Ozark Mountains, is absolutely gorgeous. And here’s some FYI: The Clintons used to live in Fayetteville before he became Governor of Arkansas. They taught law at the University of Arkansas. UofA is one of the reasons Fayetteville has such a youthful, hippie, artsie vibe.

Saxon and I went to Fayetteville to check out one of our favorite art galleries—The Underground. They were having a showing of the works of VL Cox. VL Cox, a woman, grew up in Arkansas. She experienced first-hand what it was like to live and grow up in Trumplandia. (I refer to racism disguised as Christianity in America as Trumplandia.)

As I wandered from exhibit to exhibit I became more and more emotional. By the time I through, I was in tears. I have never been so emotionally affected by art.

It started with this sign posted outside the gallery:

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The first exhibit showed a female mannequin under an American flag. It looked as if the woman was trying to burst through the flag, but instead was being smothered. I think every woman can relate to this.

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The next piece of art was titled “Stained.” She used pages from the Bible, which she fashioned into tea bags, then made into a representation of the American flag. It shows us the harm that conservatives and the Tea Party have done to America.

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The next installation was too big for me to capture in one photo. I had to use three photos instead. (One of the photos shows my cutie-patootie wife!) This installation is a moving one – meaning it actually moves around the country. Cox loves to put it near state capitols for all to see.

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Here’s another good one. It shows a Bible being thrown into a metal sign. (Note the bullet holes also in the sign.) It is titled “Ready, Aim, Fire and Brimstone.” The artists says it represents “how easily the Bible is thrown around these days.”

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I’m not going to show you pictures of every piece of art. I’m afraid WordPress would explode. So, I’ll show you two more that hit home with me.

This piece is entitled “White Bread.” It is painted on a real screen door. The artist made this after learning about a Klan camp held each summer at the National Ku Klux Klan headquarters in Harrison, Arkansas. (Only two hours from my home!) Parents send their kids to this camp to learn how to be a proper racist. Notice the teddy bear is facing backwards to represent loss of innocence. This gave me goosebumps.

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I didn’t get the name of this next piece. That’s how moved I was. And my photos aren’t too good either. Hard to take pictures when you’re crying. This is a real KKK outfit, worn to many a real lynching. When you look closely, there are blood spatters on the robe. This is one of the eeriest, most moving art installations I’ve ever seen.

(as a side note, I just found out that my great-grandfather was a member of the Oklahoma KKK. So, mix in some shame with the other emotions.)

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If you’re ever anywhere near Fayetteville, Arkansas, I urge you to visit The Underground. They do new, unusual, and subversive works. Also, keep an eye out for VL Cox. You can read more about her and her work here. Her art has been called a “wake-up call” and a “slap in the face.” And it sure was.

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I read an article the other day about how lesbians make a lot less money than straight women. We don’t read less, though. In fact, I would venture to say that we read more. Because most of us don’t have children to keep us from reading! (After my daughter was born, I didn’t read or write for almost ten years. I simply didn’t have the time.)

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So, we make less money yet we read more. That means books cost us more than the average woman. Knowing this, you can imagine how happy I was to find a solution to this dilemma.

My Lesfic is a site that offers discounted lesfic books for half the price they usually go for. A lot of you may already be familiar with BookBub. BookBub is a site that sends you a daily email of discounted books. However, in the LGBT section, it’s mostly M/M books. Once a week or so, you will find a lesfic title. This new site, founded by Harper Bliss and her Mrs., is the lesbian BookBub. Except it’s ALL lesfic, ALL the time.

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All you have to do is go to My LesFic and sign up for their weekly newsletter. It’s free! Then once a week, every Friday, you will get a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox. There will be 3 to 4 lesfic titles showcased at half their usual price. All you have to do is click on the link and save money!

Saxon and I are joining the ranks of the best-selling lesfic authors who will be offering their books at My LesFic. I hope you are as excited as we are!

Click here to start saving at My LesFic!

A Perfect Romance

“Pulls you in and won’t let you go.

“Funny, funny, and more funny!”

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