Tell a Writer You Love Them

Today, a woman messaged me on FB to tell me she loved my book Coming Around Again. She mentioned how much she loved the character development of the group of friends and the ups and downs of everyone over a lifetime.

Related to this – authors go through ups and downs, just like our characters. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I have moments when I wonder if I’m in the wrong career. I have times when a bad review will send me spiralling. I have times when I recognize my books aren’t selling or I haven’t been nominated for an award and I start to feel that I’m wasting my time writing.

I should qualify this by saying there are times when I absolutely love writing, when I can’t imagine doing anything else, when I know in my heart of hearts that I write for the sanity of my own soul and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

And still, I have those days when I wonder if I simply suck too much to ever make it.

And then someone messages out of the blue to tell me they couldn’t put down my book, that they fell in love with my characters, that they feel as if they haven’t left my fictional world even though they finished the book days ago.

Those messages mean everything. It’s a brief moment out of someone’s life that turn my entire world around.

I like to think we can take that lesson to every aspect of our lives. You can spend five minutes reaching out to someone to let them know you love something about them. You can comment positively on someone’s Facebook picture or on a status they posted about getting a good grade in a class.

It might take a few minutes out of your day, but it might change someone’s life. You just never know, so you might as well err on the side of kindness.

 

 

Boxing Day – Flash Fiction

Boxing Day. Who the hell invented this stupid holiday anyway? I could have been in a boxing match last night considering how I feel this morning. I yank open the curtains, letting the bright morning sun burn my eyes. Squinting, I peer into the front yard. My neighbor is outside in boxer shorts, snow boots, and a parka, picking up beer bottles and ashtrays.

He looks up and waves. “Come on out, Greta. We’ll have a hair of the dog.”

I shake my head and turn away from the window. My gratitude for his invitation to the drunken family Christmas only goes so far. Besides, I brought a present – the scented candle my mother sends me every year despite my lifelong allergy to scents.

A vague memory of making out with the neighbor’s cousin from Winnipeg prods at the corner of my mind. Did I do that? She’d cornered me several times, excited to meet the next-door lesbian. Cute girl, buck teeth. I had scraped my tongue across them by accident. I prodded my front teeth with the tip of my tongue. Yep. Had a sore there.

My slippers are on the couch. I toss them on the floor and slip my feet into them. They’re red and green and have bells on the toes. They’re lined with some sort of fake fur. Green fake fur. Mel got them for me last Christmas. I remember her little smile, the flush on her cheeks. “Your feet are always cold,” she had said. “And you refuse to wear socks.”

She was right. I hated to wear socks. I still do. I shuffle into the kitchen, the bells chiming gleefully no matter how hard I try to keep them still as I walk.

The kitchen is colder than the rest of the house. Mel always puts the draught blockers in front of the kitchen door. She hasn’t done it this year. I can feel the chill on my ankles, above the tuft of green fake fur.

“They’re in the hall closet,” Mel says from behind me. “Under the box with your winter coat.”

I haven’t pulled out my winter coat yet, either. I wore my jean jacket over to the neighbor’s last night. “Aren’t you cold?” The cousin had said, running a finger up the sleeve of my thin jacket.

“Get your coat out,” Mel says. “And get the draught blocker while you’re at it.”

“That’s your job,” I say, grabbing the carafe from the coffee pot. “You always put out the draught blockers. You always get out the winter clothes.”

She ignores me. I can’t blame her. I’m a horror before coffee. I fill the pot and pace in front of it, waiting for the water to brew enough that I can take a cup without it being sludge.

“You made out with the neighbor’s cousin last night,” Mel says. Her voice holds no accusation, no sadness.

I stare at the coffee pot, trying not to cry. “She had buck teeth.”

Mel clucks her tongue. She would never make fun of a woman’s appearance. Never.

I grab the carafe and fill a mug. The coffee scalds my throat, clears the lump that’s sitting right above my breastbone. The cousin’s name was Sherry.

It’s a holiday. I want to sit on the couch and watch cartoons all day, but on Boxing Day, we take down the Christmas decorations and work on the house. Since we didn’t put up any Christmas decorations, that leaves working on the house.

My tool bag is sitting on top of the dryer. I was supposed to fix the overloaded circuit last month. I grab the bag and head back to the kitchen, pouring another cup of coffee. Back to the couch. I sit next to my tool bag, cradling it with one arm.

“Are you going to fix that outlet today?” Mel asks.

“I don’t know how to do it.”

“You could ask Laurence.”

It takes me a second to remember that Laurence is the neighbor’s name. Laurence. Laurence and Janice. That’s his wife.

My feet are overheated. I lean back against the couch and put my slippered feet onto the ottoman. The green fur looks weirdly sick against my pale legs. My eyes still hurt. I close them as Mel slips her hand into mine.

I wake up confused. It’s dark and I’m coughing. There’s a pounding noise. I sit up, waving my hands in front of my face. The front door bursts open. Laurence runs in. “Greta!” He’s screaming. I drag myself to my feet. The house is filled with smoke and I feel hot, flushed. I reach for my tool bag, but Laurence is next to me, dragging me out of the house.

“Mel,” I gasp, but he ignores me, yanking me out the door before the flames shoot into the living room. I see them racing along the frame of the front door as he drags me into the yard. His whole family is standing in the street, including the cousin, the one with the buck teeth. Someone puts a coat over my shoulders, a thick coat, like the one in the closet.

I struggle against Laurence. “I have to go back in. I can’t let her die, not now, not again.

I wake up alone. It’s Boxing Day. I open the curtains and wave at my neighbor who’s picking up trash in boxer shorts and a parka. I went to his house for Christmas last night and I made out with his cousin. But his name isn’t Laurence. Laurence died in the fire, the fire from an overloaded circuit, the one that killed my wife.

“I’m sorry, Mel,” I whisper as I drag my hungover body to the kitchen to start the coffee. “I’m sorry I didn’t change the outlet.”

I wait for a moment, but she doesn’t answer.

 

 

The Writing Academy Author Spotlight

Writing academy

The Writing Academy blog will feature spotlights on the talented writers to come out of this program. Next week, we are featuring the brilliantly talented Tammy Bird.

Tammy stunned us with a live reading from her upcoming novel during the in-class readings, and she continued to impress us with her dedication and commitment to writing throughout the program.

Join us next week to learn more about Tammy and her excellent novel. And stay tuned next month for another author spotlight from the GCLS Writing Academy.

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Beth Burnett is the hottest woman on the GCLS Board of Directors

I mean – she’s not wrong.

Frivolous Views

Now that I have your attention…

If you’ve seen other posts on this site, then you know that I am an avid reader of lesbian-themed literature. After all, I am a lesbian. So it makes sense that I want to read books that have others like myself as the protagonists. Genre doesn’t much matter. I mean, it does. I have my favorite genres. But I read pretty widely. Admittedly, romances are high on my list, but they don’t have to be contemporary. Historical romances, sci-fi romances, young adult romances…they all have spaces on my bookshelf. As do a number that have nothing to do with romance at all. Again, I ready pretty widely

I’m fortunate to know a lot of the authors who have written the books I’ve read and continue to read. Some of them have even become my friends. A few have become good friends. You know, the…

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Grief and Legacy

Grief is weird, isn’t it? Sometimes it hides and you go days or weeks feeling great. Then it jumps out at you at the strangest times.

A few years ago, I went to the LCLC literary conference held by Sapphire Books. There, I met Amanda Kyle Williams, a lovely, brilliant, introverted author. She gave an incredible keynote speech and later, volunteered to speak to the writing academy students twice.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, my mother knit her a blanket which was promptly taken over by the pets in her home.

I have a few fun and funny memories of Amanda, but my favorite was when I tried to teach her a song to sing to Spike, the neighbor cat.

(To the tune of Let’s All go to the Lobby)

I like singing to kitties,

Cuz kitties like my singing

And humans don’t like my singing

But kitties like it a lot.

There’s another verse, but you get the idea. We sang it together a couple times, then I told her she could sing it as she went to feed all the neighborhood cats. Her response – “Right, because the neighborhood doesn’t already think I’m insane, wandering down the street in pajamas and rain boots with a wagon full of pet food and a herd of animals following me.”

This is only relevant because years later, for some reason, this morning I woke up with that song in my head. And as I was singing it, I was swept with such a huge wave of grief for this lovely woman who fought long and hard and ultimately lost her battle with cancer.

I was thinking about grief and how it attacks when you least expect it when I logged on to my email this morning and saw this blog post by my friend, Carleen. She was reviewing an excellent book by Anna Burke – and in the post, she referenced Sandra Moran, an author who also died way too young because of cancer.

Thinking of Sandra, reading about one of the authors who is succeeding because of her, lifted my grief. These women left a legacy – that of using their talent and their voices to help other writers find ways to bring their own voices to light.

And that’s the legacy I hope to leave. Through my work with the writing academy, through my beta reading for my students, through teaching everything from freshman comp to advanced studies in literature, I am using my voice to help other writers find theirs. Just like Amanda. Just like Sandra.

That’s why I devote so much time to the GCLS Writing Academy. And it’s why I spend time helping my students really understand the concepts we’re addressing in class. It’s important to me and if it’s important to them, I want to be there to give them every chance to succeed, just as others have done for me.

That’s the true circle of life – supporting others so they can go on to do the same.

 

NaNoWriMo

I can’t believe I’m considering another NaNoWriMo. It’s addictive. Last year, I wrote 51,000 words in a month. Maybe some people do this on a regular basis, but for me, it was a struggle. Yet, I did it. What’s more, I proved to myself that I *can* do it.

So when a friend asked if I was going to do it again this year, I thought, why not?

It’s not as if I have anything else going on.

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Last year, I did Coyote Ate the Stars. This year, I’m going to do a sequel in which Coyote and his sister go back to Adumbrate to rescue the man who was left behind in the pit of souls.

It’s just 1667 words a day for 30 days. I can totally do this.

I hope.

What is this Patreon you speak of?

An excellent blog post on Patreon.

The Nitty Gritty Writer's Nook

Until recently, I had not heard of the fundraising app known as Patreon and, when I did, I brushed it off as another Go Fund Me application where friends and family might throw a few dollars your way before the repeated posting gets annoying and they hide the content forever.

Then I noticed a Patreon posted by a writer I adore. Her work is edgy and fun and new. I clicked. I learned. I loved. Now I support her through a tiny monthly pledge that comes automatically out of my PayPal account. In return, I get access to her words of wisdom (which, as a new author, is invaluable), snippets of her works in progress, and access to short stories that she doesn’t release anywhere else.

What's Your Story

When I researched this relatively new application, I found it is actually a new twist on an old concept of artists and writers…

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