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.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Young and the Lesbian

I watched "Days of Our Lives" for huge chunks of my childhood up
until my second
Me, my braces and "Mike"
 year or so of college. I was hooked again a couple of years later with the serial killer storyline, but that was it. The storyline did me in. The resolution was unfair, shortchanged viewers and made no sense. Before that, though, I loved demonic Marlena and devious Stefano. Oh yeah!!! I even went to several DOOL conventions in Greenville, South Carolina. Other soaps I watched on and off included "One Life to Live" and "Loving."

A couple of years ago, I came up with a soap opera story idea; an actress whose career was tanking would come out of the closet because, well, a lot of celebrities were, and they were getting tons of attention. So what if this actress happened to be straight? In the world of romance, she'd find a female love interest. Cue Cupid's arrow. That is exactly what happens when the newly out Dash Bannon pairs up with soap queen Jane Knight, who has secrets of her own.
Me and "Stefano"

I've worked on this novella (about 23k words) off and on since, I think, 2014. I could never get the ending right, but now I have. (Or so I think. Ha.) So, it's out now on Smashwords and Kindle (Smashwords will distribute to Kobo, Nook, etc.). 

I've had a lot of fun with giveaways in the past, and given my affectionate memories of DOOL, I decided to have a giveaway for this story. All you have to do to enter is go to my author Facebook page and find the giveaway post. It will be pinned to the top, and the giveaway ends late in the day on Sept. 4 (Sunday). Wait! One more thing. You need to comment on the post about what soap is/was your favorite and why. (Or do soap actors/actresses instead.) If you are not a soap watcher, just comment about your favorite TV show or actor/actress.
Me and a "Jack"

I will use a random-number generator to pick a winner from the commenters, and  you can pick from .epub or .mobi ebook format. Happy soaping!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Which One of Us Is Pregnant?

My wife and I are expecting a baby next month. (July 11—knock on wood! ;) )

We announced the pregnancy on Facebook, and right away, got hit with questions such as, “Which one of you is pregnant?” and “Who is the real mother?” Stuff like that. Based on the name on the ultrasound, some people made an assumption (that may or may not be correct) about who the pregnant woman was. That woman then got congratulated for being “the mom to be” and for being the “real mother.”

Marcy and I never planned to not tell people which one of us was pregnant but after being overwhelmed with such questions from people we barely knew and who seemed to be asking out of pure nosiness/bias, we just kind of naturally decided to take it slow. Do people ask a heterosexual, “Are you the father of the baby?” or “Is your husband the father of the baby?” No.

It does not matter TO US which one of us is pregnant, and honestly, I feel a bit sorry for anyone for whom it matters so overwhelmingly much that it is the first thing he or she has to ask. Both of us are the mothers of our daughter. Both of us are on the birth certificate. Both of us planned this child and want this child. So when “you” ask on Facebook a question like that, please think a moment about why you are asking. Is it because you want to identify with the physical ailments of pregnancy, the struggles, etc.? Is it because you are really close to one of us? (If you were, chances are that you would already know who was pregnant, but exceptions do occur.) If so, consider PMing instead of asking in public.

Are you close to either one of us? Do you keep up with either one of us? If not, if you barely know us, why is this question the first one you ask? Are you asking to simply be nosy? Again, we ask you to assess WHY it matters so much to you. Explore your biases. Explore why you ask this question and why it means so much to you.

Both of us are the mothers of this child, but we face the unfortunate reality that some people may see one of us as "more" mother based on the fact of being pregnant OR of being the biological mother. (In this day and age, the pregnant woman is not necessarily the biological mother.) One reason Marcy and I were relatively tight-lipped on the issue was to correct in part for such biases from other people. Obviously, people who know us in person and family members generally know which one of us is pregnant, and on occasion, we do share. We are much more inclined to do so, though, when it is in a private message and when it doesn't come with such naked nosiness or bias, and when it doesn't come from someone who has shown a propensity in the past for favoring biological-type children.

It has been an eye-opening experience to see people's biases float to the forefront. For each of us to be called "the real mother" because different people assume each of us is pregnant.

Examine questions before you ask them, and ask why it matters so much to you.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

So Tired of the "Make America Kind Again" Meme

The past few months (at least) I have seen a meme on Facebook that says, "Make America Kind Again." People I know and respect as well as people I don't know and don't respect have shared it. 

Guess what?

I'm tired of it. America was NEVER kind. Pray tell, in between Native American massacres, slavery, lynchings of black people, suppressing the right to vote, rampant sexism, Japanese-American camps, American interference overseas for less-than-kind reasons, etc., when exactly was America kind? Just...America has never been kind, and that's the truth. In fact, the "Make America Kind Again" meme is patronizing to a lot of people and erases their struggles and brushes away the actions of wrongdoers.

Here's a meme that is more accurate.