Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Excerpt from "Knowing Katharine"

Here's an excerpt from the beginning of Knowing Katharine. FYI, the excerpt is about 6,100 words (and the story itself is a novel). The Amazon preorders page has it ranking in (among other categories)  90 minutes (44-64 pages) > LGBT, but the book is about 50,000 words and takes longer than that to read. I think the discrepancy occurred because the first file I uploaded was about 1/4 to 1/3 the length of the final story. The final word count file has been there for awhile, but it still ranks in that category.

Anyway! Excerpt time in PDF (and check out this link for more background info). And another disclaimer: It is always possible, of course, that what you see in this excerpt will not make it into the version published June 15. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

My Two Concerts

The Facebook thing going on about concerts reminds me that I have been to only two (I think). The first was accidental. And probably not a true concert. I was in high school and at one of the "Days of Our Lives" conventions in South Carolina. I was with an older friend of mine and a guy friend of hers. My (straight) friend was all like, "Oh, these guys are hot!" etc. I barely paid attention. I did snap a picture or two and haven't seen it in years. No idea where the evidence is. Anyway, this group that headlined the DOOL convention event was... N'SYNC. They were, of course, small potatoes at the time. When they got big later, I sure wished I had paid more attention and kept the picture(s).

The second concert was by a girl group, "She Moves," and in the f**king freezing outdoor cold in downtown Roanoke. I had never heard of the group, but a Google search now turns out that hey, they were not totally obscure (they appeared on "SNL"!). My sisters were crazy about the group and wanted to go, and my parents forced me to go. I had a pretty miserable time. Got nothing from it except being really cold. (Parents, don't force your deaf kids to go to concerts if they don't want to. Haha.)

I have gone to several symphony orchestras and overall enjoy them as long as the conductor is dramatic as all get out.

Knowing Katharine

Hi everyone! I'm very excited about a new novel I am set to release on June 15. It's available for preorder now, in fact! Put in your order now for a Kindle, Kobo, Nook or Smashwords copy. The book should be in the iBooks store soon too.

Here's an overview of the story. I'll post the first few chapters at some point before release. The book is finished and is in editing.


Tessa Donovan is a New York City cop tired of pounding the streets, tired of the long hours, tired of the wrecked relationship with the woman she used to love. So, when Cliff Sandings with the Royal Protection Command approaches her for a job opportunity, she jumps at the chance.

Her task: going deep undercover, including a new name, to protect Britain’s Katharine Anne Elizabeth Amalia, heir to the throne. Katharine is entering her junior year at Purcell College in Maine. She won’t let a near-successful assassination attempt deter her plans to live as normally as possible.

Tessa (undercover name Trisha) moves into a dorm room near Katharine’s, and the security officer quickly learns that protecting Katharine is tricky. Not necessarily because of physical threats but because lust gets in the way. Plus there is the fact that Katharine is poised to be the future queen of England, and an out lesbian relationship with her is all but impossible. There’s also another lesbian in the picture, the persistent Joyce Thomas, and Trisha can’t help but be drawn to her too.

Will Trisha succeed in getting to know the true Katharine, or will it be one of the other women in Katharine’s life? Does anyone truly get to know her?

And what about the woman who fantasizes about ending the lives of Katharine and her father, the king?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Book Review: "The Forgetting Time"

Sharon Guskin has a way with words (and then some), as becomes evident quickly in the first chapter of The Forgetting Time. This book is a bit unusual in that I was not sure what to expect from it. The publisher's description basically goes like this: A mother is frustrated by a boy she does not understand or cannot control. A man whose life is all but over may be able to help the boy.

Noah is the boy, and he's four years old. He calls his mother "Mommy-Mom," hates baths and can't bear it when Janie, the mother, tries to develop her own life. He's quite a terror, and his mother is determined to figure out what's wrong with him. What eventually does turn out to be "wrong" is not at all what I thought it could be, and it's awesome. I love where this story went and recommend it.

However, on a scale of five stars, five being highest, I would give it three. Why only three? About halfway through, the book gains more POVs that really weigh down and slow the story. They should have been skipped or condensed. I can't help but feel they amounted to filler for the most part. The language in them is beautiful, the writing extraordinary, but they really mess with the pacing. Worded differently, this "complaint" also means the author has a helluva story going, and readers have to be more than patient to see what's what and who's who.

One of the ways in which I measure a book is to ask myself if I would read something by the author again. The answer in this case is a resounding "Yes." Even if I have to skim parts or chapters as I did with this book, the overall experience should be well worth it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Don't Say These 5 Things When Meeting a Deaf Signer

As a Deaf person who signs, I have had more than my share of annoying encounters with well-intentioned hearing people. Many times, they are trying to be nice, and that is commendable. Many times, too, they are simply nervous and unsure what to do/say. In part, what they say may depend on the nature of the encounter. As an example, someone who has a Deaf friend and who feels the need to tell me that in Starbucks might say different things (and be less nervous, perhaps) than someone who came up to me asking for directions with no prior knowledge I was Deaf.

Anyway, enough chatter. Onward to five things hearing people should avoid saying when they meet a Deaf signer.

1) "My sister wants to learn sign language." (So many variations on this, but you get the idea.) I'll go ahead and include, "I have a friend who is deaf. We write to each other."

Why you shouldn't say it: Because it basically means your sister wants to learn sign language but can't be bothered to yet. Or because...who cares? I mean, really. Who cares about some stranger's sister or that you write to your deaf friend? Surely you have something more interesting to say. If you don't, there's the door. ;)

Lines like this I get ALL the time, and it becomes so boring and tedious. I am more than a Deaf person, you know? Sure, the Deaf aspect may be the most evident to you, but your sister wanting to learn sign is the best you can do?

2) "I used to know the alphabet/some signs but forgot."

See #1 above, plus: You used to know the alphabet but don't now. That isn't going to help us communicate at present any better, and it certainly isn't a compliment that you did not pursue sign language.

So, if you fall under #1 or #2, what do you say? Definitely don't say #3!

3) "Oh, I'm sorry!"

This exclamation is usually accompanied by widening eyes and a look of horror upon realization that I am Deaf and that you SPOKE to a Deaf person. Geez, lady (or germ). Chill. It isn't the end of the world that you made a faux pas.

4) "I wish you could hear this music," and its cousin, "You are lucky you can't hear this music."

Don't. Just don't--for so many reasons. Take your patronizing and/or pitying tone and your wishes, and go play in the road. ;)

5) "I saw you were signing, and I had to tell you I am learning sign language." 

Typically accompanied by awkward signing, although sometimes it can be skillful. On this one, I believe opinions vary. Some Deaf people like the intro. I don't. I'm tired of well-meaning hearing people. Just leave me alone. ;)

Taken by themselves, each of the above do not seem so bad. However, given that I get several variations of them a week plus many more well-meant communication headaches, the irritation seriously multiplies.

If you want to tell a Deaf person that so and so knows sign or wants to know sign, don't. If the person who wants to learn is you, actually DO learn sign. If you go up to someone to ask where Main Street is and realize the person is Deaf, get your phone or a pen and pencil, and ask your question another way. Try not to make it the obligation of the Deaf person to hunt for communication tools. If you have nothing like that on you, at least don't say, "I'm sorry," even if you are.

The people you speak to are more than Deaf people. When all you can see is a Deaf person, you need to expand your worldview. Next time you are introduced to a Deaf person at a family or friends gathering, quietly tuck away, "I used to know how to fingerspell!" and ask about a sports team. The weather. Books. Yeah, you can do it, and we look forward to it.

P.S. I should do a blog post on irritating questions many Deafies get such as, "Do you read lips?" and "Why don't you have a cochlear implant?"

Thursday, October 20, 2016

3 Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Lesfic-Crazy Girlfriend/Wife

Two great holidays combined!

Hey! You know how annoying it is when it’s the end of June, and stores start with the Christmas decorations? Okay, maybe I exaggerate a wee bit, but not by much! It’s irritating to many people, and look at me, writing a blog post about Christmas gifts when Halloween has not even arrived. (BOO!) In my defense, it’s often fun to think about and plan for Christmas gifts, and who better to plan for than the special woman in your life? To that end, here are three Christmas gift ideas for your gal who is nuts about lesfic, and if she is anything like me, nuts in general, too.

1. Tickets to the GCLS Conference

The GCLS conference, or the Golden Crown Literary Society conference, is a yearly summertime affair that brings together all kinds of lesfic authors and readers. Host cities rotate each year; the 2017 con is in Chicago and the 2018 con may be in Las Vegas. The con lasts a few days, but many people like to add at least a day or two to one end, or both ends, of the trip to get in more sightseeing and fun with friends. Expect seminars, author signings, karaoke, a dance, lots of mingling and more at each con.

The con is a great opportunity for your SO to meet her favorite authors and to connect with others over their love of reading. Plus, travel is fun! A hotel room and some time away from the rat race can make for a relaxing experience and for some spice.

Now for the not-so-great part: a trip (with airfare, hotel rooms, food, etc.) will set you back a few dimes. The money is well worth it, though, and if you can afford it or save up for it, this gift will be an experience you and your SO will never forget.

2. Bubble Bath, Candles and Chocolate (Optional: A Bath Pillow!)

One of my favorite places to read is the bathtub. Whether your SO’s preference is romance, mystery, suspense or something else altogether, she may enjoy soaking and reading as much as I do. I can read pretty well without a bath pillow, but the right kind can be great. However, there is always the chance that a print book will get soaked (a really bad incident happened to me once), and that an e-book device will join the big electronics heap in the sky. I can’t personally vouch for this waterproof Kindle case, but lots of other folks have.

3. Audiobooks

If your SO commutes a bit to work or loves car travels, audiobooks can help the time go by faster. Ditto with housecleaning and other tasks. This type of “reading” can bring a new layer of understanding to a book, and if your SO loves re-reading the same books, there ya go!
So, that’s three ideas. Maybe I’ll do another gifts post as Christmas gets nearer. Last-minute gifts, anyone? ;) I hope everyone has a great Halloween! 

Me as zombie Rudolph for Halloween 2014

Sunday, October 16, 2016

3 Top Places to Find Lesbian Fiction

The rise of ebooks and digital publishing has led to a boon for many (if not all) genres of literature. Authors, for better and for worse, no longer need gatekeepers to publish their stories. Similarly, the relatively low costs of publishing fiction have led to a nice number of specialized publishers such as those who publish lesbian fiction. Okay, but you might not care about any of that. TELL ME WHERE TO FIND LESBIAN FICTION, DAMN IT! ;)

There are three great places to find all types of lesfic, whether you are in the mood for romance, mystery, drama, comedy or perhaps even all of them. (How about throwing in a vampire space alien too?)

1. The Amazon Kindle store: While having a Kindle (or Kindle app) helps here, it is not strictly necessary. Find DRM-free works, and convert them using a program such as Calibre. Kindle owner or not, you can enroll in Kindle Unlimited for $9.99 a month and enjoy lots of lesbian short stories, novellas and novels. If that does not appeal to you, you can buy books individually. You may end up doing both because there are a lot of great books not available in Kindle Unlimited. Another bonus of Amazon Kindle's store is that there are frequent freebies and discounted books. You’ll find independent authors as well as big and small publishers here.

2. Smashwords: This store is friendly to all e-reader types and offers free books as well as their price-tag companions. Like with Amazon, you can find a wide mix of lesfic genres, and you can sort your search by choices such as any length story, 50k+ words, or 20k words or less (this latter choice will give you a short story or novella). You can also sort by best sellers and by price (free, 99 cents or less, $5.99 or less, and so on). You will mainly find independent authors here, but some excellent lesfic publishers are on this site, too.

3. Royal Academy of Bards Uber Fiction: This site is an oldie but a goodie. You can read early versions of many popular lesbian fiction works; they hold up incredibly well and may have higher doses of heart and soul than more-polished versions of the same story. You can also find many great works here that are not available in otherwise published form. Look under the “Uber” (Alternative) tag on the homepage, and if you get into the TV show “Xena,” you may want to check out the fan fic here as well. The stories are free, but a kind email to an author to show your appreciation goes a long way. (Actually, it does no matter where you come across someone’s book.)

While you’re at these sites, please feel free to check out my works. On my Amazon author page, you can see the books I have in Kindle Unlimited as well as those Kindle books that are available elsewhere. Novels such as “Reality Lesbian” and the novella “The Young and the Lesbian” are available there and at Smashwords (you can find them in the Apple store and other e-book suspects too). As for the Royal Academy of Bards, check out one of my most popular stories, “The Old Woman.”