Review of ‘Eating Life by Beth Burnett

Kitty Kat's Book Review Blog

Eating Life

Beth Burnett has written a beautiful story of a group of diverse characters whose connections to each other are vital to their happiness. Megan works in the corporate world but is forever linked to her free spirited best friend Casey. At opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of responsibility they give each other something essential. Anna has huge problems but can’t see a way to solve them herself. Brilliant is an accomplished photographer but true love evades her. Ben had that love but despairs and can’t see any light in his future . How each of them impact the other is at the heart of this emotionally-impactful novel. I loved Casey as she was so open and caring and there for people when they needed her.  One of the other characters I was not so keen on but I can’t imagine anyone would like this particular person.  She was…

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Are you a real writer?

I belong to several online writing groups. Some are geared toward feedback, some are instructional, and some, the bulk of them, are simply places for writers to get together and talk about writing. Online groups are an excellent way to connect with other writers when a live writing group isn’t a possibility.

Lately, I’ve found a disturbing trend happening in my groups – maybe it has always been there, but I’ve seen it a lot recently… People telling other people that they aren’t real writers. I have been seeing it constantly in my groups and it is pissing me off. Some new writer who is just learning to break out of the cage of self-doubt and flex those creative skills is going to read these judgmental posts and slip right back in. These are just a few examples of what I mean:

  • You aren’t a real writer if you don’t write every day.
  • You aren’t a real writer if you don’t feel compelled to write.
  • You aren’t a real writer if you aren’t almost overwhelmed by your ideas.
  • You aren’t a real writer if you haven’t studied the craft of writing.
  • (My personal favorite) Writing is hard. If you tell me you love writing, I’m going to assume you aren’t a real writer.

 

I’m a writer. I don’t write every day. I don’t always feel compelled to write. I am sometimes overwhelmed with ideas and sometimes, I stare at the blank screen for an hour paralyzed with the fear that all of the ideas have dried up forever. I have studied the craft of writing. I continue to study the craft of writing. I can’t imagine I will ever stop studying the craft of writing. There are a lot of ways to do that and they don’t all involve going to college and many of them are free. The fact that I have a degree in Creative Writing doesn’t make me a more genuine writer than anyone else. In fact, I think I’ve learned more about the craft of writing over the past year than I did in my years of school.

I love writing. I also hate it. Sometimes, I’m afraid of it. And sometimes, it even bores me. It’s a job, it’s a life, it’s a passion, it’s an addiction. It’s a dream come true and a way to make a living. It’s creating worlds and it’s forgetting to move the laundry to the dryer because the story is so compelling, it can’t be stopped until the end. Some days, it’s deciding all the heating vents in the house need to be cleaned because that’s easier than writing. Writing is hard and sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes writing is busting out an incredibly brilliant short story in twenty minutes and sometimes it’s laboring over a submission with a deadline for three weeks.

There is one thing that makes someone a real writer. They write. They write when they can, they write when they’re able. They write. End of story. If you want to be a writer, write.

Now, if you want to be a published writer or a freelance writer or a working writer or a novelist or a blogger or —- Well, that’s a different story.

But whatever you do, don’t sit in judgment of someone else’s writing process. A real writer is too busy focusing on their own work to point a finger at everyone else.

 

Conference Call

The incredible Bella Books and GCLS anthology Conference Call is a delightful collection of short stories by some of the best writers in lesbian fiction. The proceeds go to the Golden Crown Literary Society, an organization designed to promote, education, and recognize lesbian literature.

 

https://www.bellabooks.com/9781594935749-prod.html

 

I contributed an intense story about an affair – written in first person collective which puts the reader in the audience with the rest of the conference goers. And that is just one among many. It is worth a read.

 

 

We can’t work it out – Relationships end and that’s okay.

Capture

 

So many blogs and articles exist telling people how to make relationships last forever. And that’s a good thing. Kind of. We’re taught from a young age that a relationship ending is a failure and keeping a marriage together for a lifetime is a success. Never mind that grandma wasn’t allowed to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor because grandpa didn’t want a working wife or that your best friend lies lonely in his marriage bed every night because his wife won’t touch him or that your mother consistently turned a blind eye to your father’s affairs because the marriage was more important.

It’s time to recognize the truth that some relationships are meant to last a lifetime and some relationships are not. By teaching people that relationships are work, we’re telling them that they need to find a way to keep the relationship together even when it isn’t serving them anymore. I know someone who was in a marriage for over twenty years, despite being controlled, ignored, and abused because she was taught that marriage is forever and if it isn’t, it’s because you’re doing something wrong.

I have spent way too long in nearly all of my relationships, trying to work things out when I didn’t feel cherished or desired or adored. And though I think all relationships have some value in that they help us grow into who we are (or teach us what we definitely don’t want) I think some of my time could have been better spent if I had left when the relationship wasn’t contributing to my well-being instead of spending fruitless time trying to work things out.

Instead of putting out yet another how to work it out article, I’m going to talk about when to cut and run. Remember, you can’t open your life to happiness if you’re spending all of your time trying to mash an unhappy relationship into something that it will never be.

 

When to leave:

 

  1. When you have doubts. Lots of them. I used to argue with myself constantly about whether or not the relationship I was in was right for me. If you are having to cajole yourself into staying in a relationship, it’s time to leave.
  2. You have to process the relationship with your friends. If you are having to talk to your friends regularly to help understand why your relationship is causing you so much grief, it might be time to leave. A good relationship will still have things to work out, but they can be worked out between the partners.
  3.  You don’t feel respected. This is a given. If your partner doesn’t respect your time, boundaries, needs, it is time to go.
  4. You aren’t attracted to your partner or they aren’t attracted to you. Sex is important in a love relationship and if you aren’t attracted to your partner, you are doing them a disservice by not setting them free to find someone who is. (Side note: It’s important to understand that some people are okay with not having a physical relationship and some people stay in long term intimate relationships while having sexual relationships with others and a billion other different aspects of human sexuality but in this particular instance, I am talking about a monogamous relationship in which one partner wants to be sexual and the other doesn’t find them attractive.) That was a mouthful, but it is important to note. It is hard to stay confident and body positive in a love relationship with someone who does not find your body appealing. Conversely, being with someone who craves and desires you is one of the most sexually liberating feelings in the world.
  5.  You don’t feel supported, nurtured, and cherished.
  6.  You don’t feel like supporting, nurturing, and cherishing your partner.
  7.  You lie to your partner. If you find yourself hiding aspects of yourself because your partner will react badly, or because you don’t trust them to love you as you are, it is either time to lay everything on the table, or move on.
  8.  You’re being abused. Don’t settle for abuse. Not once. If someone hits you, kicks you, pinches you in a way that hurts, it is time to leave.
  9. Your partner is mean in fights. All couples have disagreements. But if your partner calls you names when they are angry at you, it’s time to move on.
  10.  You fall in love with someone else. It’s heartbreaking, but sometimes, when you’re in the wrong relationship, you meet the right one. The moment you realize this has happened, unless you are in an open relationship and intend to stay that way, it is time to break up with the other.

Whatever you do, the most important thing to remember is that a break-up doesn’t mean you have failed. We try different things at different times in our lives. We aren’t expected to stay with the same career our entire lives, so why should we be expected to stay with the same relationship. Sometimes it works for us, and sometimes it doesn’t. If you are unhappy in your relationship and you and your partner aren’t both actively working together to change that, maybe it’s time to move on and free up the space for better things to enter your life.

 

Excerpt from Conference Call

This is the excerpt from my short story in the Bella Books anthology “Conference Call.” All of the proceeds from this anthology go to benefit the Golden Crown Literary Society. If you want the rest of the story, buy the book – available July 20th here.

It was an affair. It was a tawdry affair between two women who should have known better. That’s what we all thought. We watched it happen at the Golden Crown Literary Society conference in DC. There was a palpable energy between them that the most sensitive of us noticed immediately. We sat in the lobby with our coffee, water, and breakfast sandwiches and watched as Maddie walked past the registration desk. Her eyes scanned the room and we held our breath, wanting her gaze to fall on us, to pick us out of the crowd. Maddie moved through the conference with the grace and confidence of someone who felt at home at the con and we all watched her. But Justine sat up like a prairie dog and Maddie’s eyes landed on her. Time froze, or we did, as the electricity between the two of them exploded into a million pieces in front of us.

Justine stood and crossed the room, her eyes locked on Maddie as she walked. They hugged and somehow, we all felt the press of their bodies, felt the way their arms wove around each other, their hips pressed together. From that second on, we were invisible. We sat in on their author readings and we went to their panels, but we were invisible. Oh, Maddie still smiled and laughed with us, and she answered our questions, but her mind was always somewhere else. When Justine walked in the room, a lightning bolt of energy sizzled between them and the rest of us disappeared. Though Maddie would turn back to talk to us, a secret smile remained, and we knew Justine had somehow touched a part of her that no one else ever had.

We stood next to them at the lunch buffet, watching as they carefully didn’t touch. Their bodies craned toward each other until they caught themselves and rearranged the space between them to an appropriate distance. We could feel the pull as they found seats next to each other at a table. They made conversation with people nearby but their arms somehow kept touching or they bumped hands as they ate.

We whispered words like adultery and cheating and homewrecker. It was an affair and we didn’t approve. We heard whispers that Justine was emotionally abused at home and we nodded righteously. Justine was married and we didn’t care how unhappily. She should leave first. There’s no excuse for adultery.

Maddie was partnered and we didn’t know if there were long, lonely nights crying in bed. It didn’t matter. It was an affair. That’s what we all thought. But we watched them laugh together at shared jokes no one else found funny. We felt the emotion underneath the attraction. It was starting to look like something more.

We saw them standing close, heads bent together, having a quiet, intense conversation. Justine blinked out a tear and Maddie brushed it away softly, her fingers lingering on the smooth skin of Justine’s cheek. They didn’t see us, though we passed quite close.  Love of my life, we thought we heard one of them mutter. We overheard them talking several times, and we marveled at the conversations. I’ve never felt so accepted in my life. I can’t remember ever being so heard.
We sat behind them at the movie and watched the way their shoulders touched as they leaned together. We nudged each other knowingly when Maddie put her arm around Justine, secure perhaps, in the invisibility of the darkened room. We ended up at the same table during karaoke and we watched the ways their eyes flicked toward each other whenever someone butchered a particularly sappy love song. We heard the sighs, we saw the longing, and we felt the pain and ecstasy. We started to smile at them during master classes and some of us were whispering the word love.

One day we walked behind them through the garden path of the hotel, and we saw their hands come together. Their fingers entwined and they looked at each other. For a second our hearts stopped. We questioned our own lives. We wondered if it could happen to us. We thought about our own long lonely nights and bitter tears. We remembered the deep love we felt for the friends and partners we’d met at the conference. We touched the hands of our lovers and smiled, wondering if Maddie and Justine felt what we felt. We wondered if they had experienced that jolt, that moment of recognition. We remembered the instant we had looked into each other’s eyes and knew that somehow, after all of the years of feeling out of sorts, we finally felt the last piece of the puzzle slipping naturally into place. We looked at their faces and thought, if only for a minute, that just maybe they were feeling the same thing we felt when we knew we had finally found the one.

It was an affair. That’s what we all thought.

Da Capo al Fine – Guest blog by Ann McMan

The always entertaining, thoughtful, and brilliant Ann McMan

Wonder Boi Writes

Hey Friends,

Today my good friend Ann McMan has done me the honor of writing a guest blog about her new release, Goldenrod and her journey back to Jericho! What follows are her unedited words, so read on, but when you’re done, be sure to click one of the many links to take you to your own copy of Goldenrod.

Da Capo al Fine – Guest blog by Ann McMan

Many years ago, the great Joni Mitchell commented on one of the frustrations that dogged her throughout her career as a songwriter. She talked about how fans would clamor for her to keep telling the same stories or writing the same kinds of songs—and she marveled at how this repetitive feedback was absent from her work as an artist. “A painter does a painting and he does a painting,” she said. “Somebody buys it and hangs it on some…

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Eating Life excerpt

Eating Life CoverLater, as they were lying in bed eating yogurt and granola, Anna asked Brilliant why she always laughed when she reached for the dildo.

“I never told you that story?”

“Come on,” Anna said. “I want to hear it.”

Brilliant opened her mouth and Anna obliged by spooning some yogurt in. Clearing her throat, Brilliant straightened up a bit, stretching one long leg over Anna’s thigh. “Columbus Gay Pride, 1996. I was there with a hot butch mechanic.”

“I forgot you date butches, too,” Anna said, smiling. “Is that weird?”

“I like women, Anna. Butch or femme or, like me, something in between.”

“I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just strange to picture you with anyone that isn’t me,” Anna replied.

“Yeah, imagine how I feel,” Brilliant said.

“We made a pact that we wouldn’t talk about Megan,” Anna said, shifting slightly away from Brilliant.

“I’m sorry. I keep breaking the rules. First I fall in love with you. Then I start a dialogue about your partner. Next thing you know, I’ll be asking you to leave her.”

“That can’t happen,” Anna said. “And I don’t want to have a dialogue about it.”

“Everyone leaves me, Anna. Everyone. My parents, my grandparents, my brother. Why don’t you just promise to stay with me?”

Anna glared. “Why don’t you start dating women who are unattached?”

Brilliant sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe I would rather date someone I know is going to disappoint me than put my trust in someone and be let down again.”

“Are we going to process your bad relationship choices all day?” Anna asked.

“We’re lesbians, Anna.” Brilliant grinned. “We process everything.”

Anna leaned over and tweaked one of Brilliant’s nipples. “Process this,” she said.

“Ahem. Continuing my story,” Brilliant said, pulling Anna snugly against her. “Gay Pride. Some dude in a leather thong was walking around selling raffle tickets.”

“Okay.” Anna giggled. She dipped her finger into the yogurt and smeared a bit on Brilliant’s nipple. Leaning down to lick it off, she motioned for the rest of the story.

“Of course I bought a few. They were only a dollar. I had no idea what they were for, but I couldn’t resist a man in a leather thong selling raffle tickets for a dollar apiece. It was so stereotypical gay pride.”

“I can see that,” Anna said, releasing the nipple. “So, what happened?”

What happened? Pre-order Eating Life on Amazon or ask for it at your favorite local bookstore and find out

New Year’s Resolutions

This year, I will not make any resolutions that imply I am anything other than perfectly wonderful just the way I am. I will not make any resolutions meant to make me feel bad about myself, nor will I make any sweeping pronouncements about how I want to be thinner, smarter, better, more.

This year, I won’t make any New Year’s resolutions that aren’t expressly intended to make me or my loved ones feel good about themselves.

This year, I resolve to practice self-care. This year, I’d like to treat my body with loving care. I want to spend more time at the farmer’s market and less time at big box stores. I would like to walk more, bike more, eat more vegetables. I would like to spend more time dancing. I want to save the money for a few pedicures. I want to make sure my sex life stays fresh and loving and invigorating. I want to sleep soundly. I resolve to hug my dog daily. I resolve to spend more time playing with my cat.

This year, I want to connect more. I resolve to send more paper letters. I want to reach out to someone who hasn’t heard from me in a long time. I would like to smile at more people. I want to compliment strangers. I want to tell my friends when they are wonderful and let it go when they are not. I want to appreciate the people who love me. I want to continue to be grateful for calling a partner into my life who loves me and shows me in a billion different ways. This year, I want to talk to my mother more often. I’d like to have more women come to my house for talks and coffee and shared breakfasts. I’d like to touch my friends more, hold their hands, hug them, ask them if they are lonely, or if they are living their dreams. I want to help people who need help.

This year, I want to spend time focusing on my career. I want to finish my fourth novel and start my fifth. I would like to submit at least one more short story this year than last. I want to find ways to market my self-love classes to a wider audience. I would like to network with other writers and teachers. I want to find a job teaching online with a college or university.

This year, I would like to stress less about paying bills. I don’t want to buy more stuff, but I would like to be able to pay the electric bill and my mortgage in the same week. I don’t want to be rich, but I want to be unafraid of where the next groceries are coming from. This year, I want to put some effort into making enough money that I can make decisions about spending, rather than reactions. This year, I’d like to make enough money that I can donate some of it to causes that touch my heart.

This year I want to stay informed about political decisions that can harm myself and my family without letting the news drag me into a depression. I want to act to protect myself and my loved ones without allowing myself to be silenced about that which is important to me.

This year, I want to be myself. I want to do what I want to do. I want to follow the calling of my own soul. This year, I resolve to be proud of myself. I resolve to follow my dreams. I want to love freely and live openly.

This year, I will cherish what I have, rather than pursue what I don’t.

Happy New Year.