Flash Fiction – Emma’s Perfection

Emma’s Perfection

Emma touched my ear during Algebra. My fucking ear. I didn’t  look at her, but the tingle stayed long after her finger had gone. After class, she leaned over to whisper, her warm breath dancing across the already sensitive skin. I know, but it doesn’t matter. She couldn’t know. She meant something else. Maybe that I had cheated on the last quiz, glancing casually at her paper for answers to three, seven, and fifteen. She knew. What did she know?

Later, I slammed into my house, tossing my bag on the floor.

Dad 1 offered cookies. Dad 2 offered talk.

I offered my trouble. There’s a girl. I think she might like me.

One oohed, the other aahed. There’s hope for our little Pikachu yet.

I left them in the kitchen, giggling to themselves.

I’d never been afraid of being queer, being bi, being whatever the hell I was that allowed me to love whomever I wanted to love. I grew up with the dads, after all. And my mom was in love with a man who lived with his wife and his wife’s lover and the lover’s ex-husband.

But Emma’s hair was perfect, and she wore the right clothes and when she walked into the classroom, everyone looked at her. She read Jane Austen and had perfect handwriting. She probably believed that marriage equaled one man and one woman. Continue reading “Flash Fiction – Emma’s Perfection”

The One About My Publisher

Okay, I officially love my publisher. Seriously. So. As most of you know by now, I have been struggling with the second book. I keep turning it over in my head, trying new stuff, fighting myself about it, wondering about it, writing, erasing, rewriting. I just couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around this story.

Finally, I knew that I needed some professional help. I did two things. I sent a plea for help out to a trusted friend (and there will be more on that in a later blog, I’m sure.) And, I send a message to my publisher telling her that I was having a crisis.

She came back with a request (?) to see what I have so far. I sent it to her. She sent me back several questions asking where I was going with it. I answered the best that I could. Just trying to answer the questions helped give me some clarification. She countered with a reason why I really shouldn’t go with one of the plot points I had been planning. She was right. She gave me several more pointers as a writer. She gave me a couple of pointers as a friend…

And then…

She put on the publisher’s hat and gave me a deadline.

Well, shit.

A deadline.

A deadline. You know, a deadline is actually a REALLY FANTASTIC IDEA! I had a deadline on my last book. I imposed it on myself, but I sat there and worked my butt off every single night to finish it because I told myself that I was going to be done with that book before I left the Virgin Islands. I didn’t want to be trying to work on it while getting rid of most of my stuff, moving overseas with a dog and a cat, extricating myself for a long-term relationship, leaving behind my home, and going back to my old home and family. It was too much. I knew it would be tossed aside. So I finished it *before* I left island and I did set it aside and forget about it for a month. Then I started editing it. And working on figuring out how to publish. And all of that took a long time, mainly because I had no idea what I was doing, but the very important thing… the MAIN thing, the fact that I should not have pushed out of my head is that I wrote the book on a deadline. And it wasn’t a leisurely deadline, either. I pushed myself. *AND* I was working and going to school full time. So now that I am not working and I have all of this free time, I somehow seem to find it easy to tell myself that I will work on it “later.”

Well, no longer. I have a deadline now. I have a job. I have actually written out a schedule. This is my work schedule. I do not get to skip work. From now on, certain hours are devoted to writing and I will be writing during those hours. No Facebook, no phone calls, no errands, not even blogging or marketing for the last novel. That stuff can be done after hours.

As of right now, I am employed again. I am a writer. This is not my hobby, this is not a game. This is my craft. It’s important. And I’m going to do it.

So, thank you Chris at Sapphire Books Publishing who is not only a fantastic person, but a tough, take no shit publisher. I needed that kick in the head. I needed it.

And for the record, I wrote 1500 words today after I got that message. Hey, I’m on a deadline now.

An Award-Winning Novelist

Yep. That’s me. An Award-Winning Novelist. I’m pretty sure I speak it in all caps, too. See, I submitted my little novel to the Elisa Rolles LGBT Rainbow Awards and guess what happened? I won three. Yep. Number one in one category, number two in another, and honorable mention in yet a third. Am I stoked? Yeah.

Not that this really changes much. I’m still living below the poverty level. I’m still trying to get my homework done on time. I’m still trying to figure out how to market my book so people will buy it. And I am still fighting tooth and nail with the second book. I swear that for every thousand words I write, I go back and delete eight hundred. Despite my power of positive thinking that I have been trying so desperately to practice, I am still floundering on that one. The editor who worked on Man Enough sent me an email the other day asking how it was going and I told her that it was going badly. She emailed me back that she was sending me good vibes. It helped. I wrote well that day. Maybe it was just the centering from knowing someone was sending me good thoughts. Or maybe she helped me focus my own good thoughts. Either way, it helped. I need to figure out how to do that every single day on my own. So, that’s where I am with that. My goal for the next week is to maybe spend a few minutes of each morning (maybe during morning yoga) just focusing positive thoughts and maybe some visualizations on Andy’s Song.

In the meantime, I am now an  Award-Winning Novelist! Boo-ya! I am kind of coasting on the excitement of that. I did scream (loudly) when I found out, causing Lucretia to come tearing in with her hand over her heart thinking I was dying or that I had seen a snake or something. I then forwarded the email to my mother, my stepmother, and my publisher. (That’s telling, isn’t it?)

Well, being an *A*ward-*W*inning *N*ovelist definitely comes with some responsibility. I have a responsibility now to get the word out there about Man Enough. I have a responsibility to finish Andy’s Song so I can move on to the next novel that is already pushing at my brain. And I have a responsibility to be absolutely fabulous at all times. (That’s the easy part, at least.)

So, keep your eyes open. Who knows? Maybe soon you’ll see me strutting across the stage of the Ellen show or Oprah’s new show. Hey! It could happen!

Marketing

I’ve said it before that some writers are just natural personalities. They have a gift for getting up in front of a crowd and getting themselves out there. They tout their novels, they sell themselves, and they just somehow seem to instinctively know what to do to make it work.

Some of us are a little more introverted. Now, let’s be fair, I am a pretty outgoing person. I enjoy meeting new people, I have a good time in small social groups, and once I get the first few minutes behind me, I am actually pretty good at speaking to a crowd.

But I have to admit that selling myself is a little more difficult than I thought it would be. I don’t know where to begin. Do I call random bookstores and ask them if they want me to come in and talk about my book? And if so, and if they say yes, what if no one shows up? Do I find groups that might want to hear me? Since my book has a transgendered character, I think I should seek out trans groups, but I am just not sure how to approach them. “Hi, I wrote a really charming and adorable FTM character. Want me to come sell myself at your group?” It’s a little awkward.

My good friend and mentor has given me some ideas and, armed with the list, I have been attacking some of the online resources. Somehow, tempered in that, is the idea that I don’t want to be *too* pushy, too in-your-face with myself. Is that a societal construct? Is that a latent belief that women should be quiet and unassuming? I think that I am a pretty out and proud feminist woman, but maybe there are some lingering doubts that if I am too pushy, then people won’t like me.

I’m not sure. But for whatever reason, I do seem to have trouble marketing myself, despite the fact that I actually adore my novel and I think it is a charming and funny, yet socially important piece on orientation and gender in today’s world. It’s important. And it should be important to more people than just the groups that are already affected by these issues. I would like to see it read by people who *don’t* know anything about transgender or gay issues. I need to market to them as well, and I am not sure how to make that happen.

So, I am calling on you, my wonderful friends to offer some ideas and help me figure out how to make it happen.

http://www.sapphirebooks.com/beth.html

“Man Enough” Page Four

“Transgendered really means anyone who falls outside of the standard binary gender system, in any way at all. Transsexuals are born into the wrong body. So, a person might have been born in a male body, but she knows in her heart that she is female. Whether or not she takes it any further than that is up to her. Some people take hormones or have surgeries, but some don’t want to go through the pain and uncertainty of all of that so they…” I stop myself. “Davey, stop talking,” I whisper.

Ted looks shell shocked. “Excuse me?”

“I’m a babbler. Sorry. I know I’m over-explaining here. The point is that some people have trouble coming to terms with their own orientation, or they might be perfectly accepting, but their parents or their classmates are tormenting them about it. Sometimes a kid just has a question, sometimes he or she needs to know they are not the only one of whatever they are going through. Sometimes it is a kid who has been kicked out of the house and we work to find foster care if they are underage, or help them find jobs and apartments if they are old enough.”

“But, you’re not gay.” He raises his eyebrows.

“No. And?”

“Well, why not work with normal teenagers.”

“Normal?” I choke a bit on the word. This guy can’t be for real. “Who decides the criteria for normal?”

“Oh, please.” Ted is incredulous. “Why would you, if you are actually straight, spend your time giving special help to people who choose to be gay?”

The angel is flat out watching us now. He isn’t even pretending to read. I can feel his stare and for some reason, I feel as if he’s waiting to see what I’m going to say next. I throw a glance at him and he smiles at me.

“Excuse me?”

“It’s unnatural,” Ted is insisting. Unnatural. This from a douche-nozzle who posts pictures of his BMW on his Facebook page. Now, that is unnatural.

http://www.amazon.com/Man-Enough-ebook/dp/B008GVR7BK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341484984&sr=1-1

Adult Content?

A transsexual character, a couple of lesbians, a gay wedding, and some girl on girl kissing does not make for “adult content.” I was told today by a person who shall remain nameless that my book should have a warning that it is adult content. Given that anyone under the age of about 15 is probably not looking in the adult fiction/lesbian romantic comedy section, I cannot believe that my book should be listed with a warning more explicit than the other chick lit that I have read. This isn’t a 50 Shades of Gray. It isn’t even a Breaking Dawn. This is a romantic comedy about a group of friends, most of whom happen to fall outside of the gender and orientation “norm” of society. So how exactly does that make it “adult content?”

Not the sex scene. The only sex scene in which only one person gets off anyway… no, this person was bothered by the fact that my transsexual character is not tortured. Apparently, a happy, handsome, charming, intelligent trans man is reason for concern.

My response? Fuck off. I want my characters to have happy endings, just as I want my readers to have happy endings. If there is a transgender person reading my book who thinks, “Wow, it does get better,” then I have done exactly what I set out to do when I started this book. If a teenage queer reads about the well-balanced gay people and takes it to heart, that is a good thing. That’s a GREAT THING.

So, adult content, my ass.