Book Review: Escapades by MJ Williamz

Do you like your romances hotter than sizzling, so ‘go there’ you’re right there with them? Then you better get your hands on Escapades by MJ Williamz.

This is the first book by Williamz I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I will admit, I haven’t been much of an erotica reader since my menopause had its 20th birthday, but I received a free copy of Escapades at the GCLS 2017 Chicago Conference and, tickled to have a ‘naughty book’ to read, started it as soon as I got home.

Wham bam! The first page had me blinking in total surprise and it was a sexy rollercoaster ride from beginning to end. To say the characters were well realized would be a serious understatement. I understood who Joey and her best friend Mel were almost immediately, even recognizing a bit of myself in them from those halcyon days of my youth.

Proudly single, constantly searching for love-’em-and-leave-’em pleasure with any number of sexual partners, Joey is taken up short when she finds herself undeniably attracted to a woman she could never treat that way. She wants to bed beautiful Samantha something fierce, but is caught up short by the recent widow’s surprise. For her part, Samantha wants desperately to give herself to the foxy playboi, but can’t shake the ghost on the pedestal she’s made of her wife’s memory.

One of the more delightful aspects of Williamz’ writing is her skill with dialogue. She stays true to each of the characters’ unique voices, deftly moving the story along. And happily for the reader, the author’s artistry makes it easy to keep track of which character is speaking without a constant need for identifiers. Whether it’s sexy, barely legal Tiffany, or surfer pal Mel calling Joey out, each character plays an important part in the story.

Now, about the sex. I’ll tell you, I knew Williamz wrote erotica, I’d heard talk which is why I wanted to read one of hers. And, I’m no novice in that area myself. I’ve been publishing erotic short stories since 2006, including one in an anthology that won a Lambda. But I confess, from literally page one I was totally bowled over by the sex scenes (of which there were plenty)! To my delight, the author used variety in each scene and words for body parts (the naughty pink bits) that were direct and not distracting (still thinking about which ‘bits’ are pink, aren’t you. See what I mean?)

I think Williamz may have created a new genre – cozy erotica. It was fun, entertaining, incredibly sexy and with enough tension in a wholly lesbian community to delight any lesfic erotica lover. A hot summer read, especially in bed, aloud and in the company of someone eager and willing to be adventurous.

 

 

Today is Teaser Tuesday

After pGet Yourself Another Butch Cover1artying and learning with an amazon group of literary women at the GCLS conference in Chicago, it’s back to work. My WIP is tentatively titled, Get Yourself Another Butch and here is a short excerpt to tease you…

Chapter 6: Spring 1968 – 20 years old

Waking alone in her bed on Friday, May the tenth, Traf was relieved. She had work to do and didn’t want to waste a moment of time arguing with Ana. They’d barely spoken a word to each other when she’d returned last night.

She dressed and hurried to the base. Starting in the Base Commander’s secretarial pool once more, she asked about Lt. Roberts and was directed to the pilot training wing. It didn’t take long to find him. He was pacing back and forth in front of a group of uniformed pilots, describing some new piece of equipment being installed on the planes.

Traf stood nearby and watched him. The tall blond American took self-assured strides looking each of his men in the eye. Those muscles on his chest and arms mean he’s in good health and enjoys physical activity. Aurelito needs a daddy who can play with him. After he’d dismissed his men to their duties and stood alone, she approached him.

“Lt. Roberts?” she asked. When he nodded, she offered her hand. “I’m Lt. Mendes, from VIP drivers.”

“Yes, Lieutenant?” he said pleasantly. “What can I do for you?”

She cleared her throat and thought of Aurelito. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve heard rumors that you and your wife are thinking of adopting a baby. Please, stop me now if I’ve been told wrong.”

The Lieutenant, although surprised by her statement nevertheless did not contradict her. Instead he nodded his head, keeping eye-contact with her. His cheeks darkened.

She hurried on. “Due to completely legal circumstances, I have a three-month old baby boy that needs a loving family. I understand that Americans can adopt Portuguese babies fairly easily?”

“Yes,” he said, eyes widening. “We’ve looked into it, at least in theory. It can take between six months to a year, but we’re stationed here until ’70. We haven’t approached the orphanage, yet, which is the next step.”

“Not necessarily,” Traf said. “If you and your wife want the baby boy, it can be arranged within hours rather than months. You’ll become his biological father on record, and your wife can be added as his step-mother.”

“How is that possible?” Lt. Roberts asked, leading the way to a small canteen with a large coffee pot and ceramic cups. They poured themselves a couple, Traf adding her usual four sugars. Sitting down at a table, she told him everything about Conceição and Aurelio, up to and including her promise to never give him to the orphanage.

“But why did you adopt Conceição’s baby as your own?” he asked, regarding her over his coffee cup. “Why register him as your son if you’re not able to keep him?”

Ah, that is the question. I’d ask, too. She cleared her throat and began. “Conceição is the employee of a dear friend of mine. All of us were agreed that no baby should be raised in a whorehouse. I thought I could raise him as my own, so I agreed to register Aurelio as my own flesh and blood. But it’s too hard for me to take care of him by myself.” She gritted her teeth, knowing she hadn’t planned to raise him alone but decided to leave Ana out of the story altogether.

“Yes, you do seem rather young,” Lt. Roberts commented. “How old are you?”

“I turned twenty last January,” she said proudly.

“Really? You look seventeen.”

“Yes, really.” She pulled out her international driver’s license and showed him. “How old are you and your wife?”

The lieutenant leaned forward, elbows on the table. “I’m almost thirty and Vanessa’s twenty-seven. We’ve been trying since we got married, but no luck.” He rose and refilled both cups, handing hers back with four packets of sugar as he reseated himself. “To tell you the truth, Lt. Mendes, we’re both afraid we’ll never have children unless we adopt.”

“Would you like to come with me and meet the baby?” Traf asked, excited by his words.

“Yes, I would,” he said, shaking his head no. “But I won’t until I know for sure that Vanessa is interested. I don’t want to fall in love with the little guy if my wife doesn’t want him.”

“I know what you mean,” Traf said, tugging a lock of hair ruefully. “When will you know?”

“I’ll talk to Vanessa about it over the weekend,” he assured her. “I’ll let you know on Monday.” They shook hands and Traf left still not knowing the fate of her baby’s future.

Walking the few blocks home, she rehearsed what she was going to say to Ana. She’d been thinking about it all three months she’d been in Spain. She would give her an ultimatum, either give up this idea of getting pregnant or get out. Okay, you don’t want Aurelito, that stinks, but okay. We can find another baby that both of us can love, but not one you make by having sex with a man. That I can’t accept. I won’t.

Rounding the last corner, Traf looked up and saw Ana’s pinched face watching her from the doorway. She walked right past her as if she weren’t there, going through the living area into the kitchen where she took a bottle of beer from the refrigerator. She drank it while hanging her uniform carefully in the closet and changing into jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers. Walking back into the kitchen past a glowering Ana, she tossed the empty beer bottle in the trash. Without a word between them, Traf left Ana standing there and went out their front door.

She was irritated. She’d hoped Lt. Roberts would have jumped at her offer and they’d already be signing papers at the civil registry, but now it would be Monday before anything could be done and that was only if his wife wanted a ‘whore’s bastard’. The words rattled around in her head, an ugly, dirty label that sweet baby Aurelito might never escape.

~ from Get Yourself Another Butch, the sequel to When Butches Cry

 

 

Throwback Thursday—Retro TV:  The Twilight Zone

I am a lifetime devoted fan of The Twilight Zone, and this Women and Words post by R.G. Emanuelle just made me very happy.

Women and Words

You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead —your next stop, the Twilight Zone!

Last time, I introduced this new blog series that I’m going to do: Throwback Thursday—Fangirl Retro TV. My first installment is about The Twilight Zone. (All the photos in this blog are still shots from TTZ.)

The Twilight Zone was created by Rod Serling, an American screenwriter, and aired from 1959 to 1964. Serling’s monologues introducing and/or closing out the episodes were not just well written, they were prophetic, poetic, intelligent, lyrical, and downright chilling. He was able to weave a series of words together that not only made the point, but that wound through your mind like ribbons, binding together the thoughts that reside there with something pretty or flashy…

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Feet Don’t Fail Me Now

Photo of Genta Sebastian
Genta Sebastian

Attitude is Ability’s strongest supporter.

I’ve always taken my health for granted. I’ve been blessed with sound bones, fairly well functioning internal organs, and muscles that do what I ask them to do, not that I ask very often. But I do enjoy a good walk, which is what I was doing when I found my foot flopping at the end of my leg.

My wife and I were visiting her family to enjoy the Carnival on Terceira Island. It was the middle of February and the weather was so much better than our usual Minnesota we walked a lot. We were strolling on the way into town to eat dinner when I tripped over my own feet a couple of times but didn’t think of it as we’d just spent two days traveling and I was still tired. On our way back after dinner, I noticed my gait was different. I usually glide along, my head barely rising and falling with each step, but that night my right foot slapped down jarringly.

I became careful, slowing my speed and experimenting with my foot. It wasn’t rising with each step and when I stood still and tried to flex it, nothing happened.

I searched my mind, wondering what I might have done to make my foot behave this way. Then I remembered a silly thing that happened during a visit to a friend’s store earlier in the day. We were chatting on a steep loading dock, facing uphill at an angle of 20-25 degrees. Since I speak limited Portuguese and family and friends were catching up with shotgun fire rapidity, I let my mind wander.

I’ve recently lost a lot of weight (nearing ninety pounds), which has made me more body conscious than I’ve ever been before. One part of me that is not nearly so rounded as it once was, is my tush. I used to have a round butt but after losing so much weight (not to mention the hours and hours of sitting required of authors) it has flattened considerably. I wondered if I could encourage a nice muscular flex of the booty by (get this) rising up on my toes on the incline. I know it makes no sense but I was still tired from traveling. So up on my toes, I went. My legs immediately cramped and I dropped back to my feet, massaged away a charlie horse, and continued on with my day until that walk down to dinner when I first noticed the foot drop.

The next day when things hadn’t improved, I phoned my sister the doctor. Nothing hurt, if anything my leg was numb from the knee down, but the toes and ball of the foot would not rise. She advised massage, ankle flexing exercises and to continue walking everywhere.

footdrop

Foot drop, that’s what it’s called because that’s what it is. I could flex my toes forward, but not raise them back up, so my foot hung loosely at the end of my leg whenever I took a step. To do the exercises prescribed by Dr. Sis I had to lift my right leg, position it over the ledge I was using to brace and let the foot drop from there.

It was a nightmare and I wasn’t pleased that there was no improvement. To make matters worse, the left leg also developed foot drop a day later. Both feet dragged now unless I marched like a marionette. My wife was solicitous and we both noticed I was also having difficulty with balance. Even standing still I could lose my equilibrium.

I didn’t get home to America for another three weeks, so I stretched every day, massaged numb legs like crazy and walked as much as I could, even though very tiring compared to how easy it was before this happened. To avoid stumbling over toes that dragged the ground I had to either step high (a kind of prancing move) or swing my leg in a half circle before setting down (think Festus from Gunsmoke). I walked slowly to minimize either movement.

Which was fine in a place that’s much slower paced than America. After landing at La Guardia and clearing Customs, I found myself jostled and hurried down long corridors to catch another flight. I have a suitcase with four wheels that always seems hard to push along and I stumbled over my feet and took a header on the carpet. Not fun. I learned to hug the wall, the apparent internationally agreed upon space for handicapped folks who dare to walk, and that people stared as I walked with my crazy, toe-pointed ballerina-type mincing step so I could hurry.

For reasons too personal to go into, I was away from my own medical care for another month. Dr. Sis suggested it might be neurological, sending me immediately to the internet. I found tale after tale of people who live with drop foot continuously, with no expectation of improvement or regaining full function of their feet. Most of these cases were neurological and several were pulmonary, symptoms following a stroke or heart-attack. I grew despondent. But then I found a single comment from someone who said yes, it was reversible. He did the same stretching exercises I did and commented about massage and orthopedic devices.

And there were signs of improvement. My right foot began to flex slightly again, sending me into a frenzy of renewed massage and stretching exercises. I used an adjustable boot I’d worn for a severe case of plantar fasciitis a few years back and tightened it so my toes flexed upward while I slept, alternating night and feet. I rigged my walking shoes with elastic around the farthest lace and an ankle strap to improve my gait. And I walked, slowly, it’s true, and not far. Nevertheless, I persevered.

That was almost three months ago. I haven’t mentioned it online because why would it matter? Either I’d continue to walk with a noticeable limp, or I would heal. Either way, I had nothing to say until now. But along the way, I learned something important I’m sharing today.

Don’t take the act of walking for granted.

If you walk without a limp, bless your lucky stars. The ability to ambulate easily is an underappreciated miracle, pure and simple.

Appreciate your feet today. Walk around the block, varying your speed every time you turn a corner. Run a few steps, stop, twirl on your toes, and run back. Watch other people’s feet as they walk, flexing their feet with every step. Hop up on a curb and descend stairs quickly. Tiptoe somewhere, and dance. Dance like there’s no tomorrow because you never know when you’ll suddenly face a different reality. Enjoy the blessing of healthy feet and legs every minute that you have them.

And if your lower extremities are struggling to regain function or health, hang in there. Do the work, trust in change, and believe in yourself. Pat yourself on the back for every incremental improvement. Know that whatever you’re struggling with will get better, either because you change it or because you learn effective methods of adjustment. You can reach your goals, one stretch/massage/step/walk/run at a time.

I’m happy to report that my right foot is now almost back to normal, and my left foot is improving steadily. Although I’m not there yet, I expect to be able to forget my feet as I walk around the GCLS 2017 conference in Chicago come July 6th. If you see me, stop and say “Hi!”

Book Review: The French Way by Mary M. Wright

The French WayThe French Way by Mary M. Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review for The French Way by Mary M. Wright

Like a first French kiss, this book awakens you to a new way of looking at things.

On the surface, The French Way is a charming new adult lesbian romance. Set at the end of the hippie era, charming Sophie, an innocent abroad, is aflame with a desire for adventure. She and her traveling companion take somewhat risky chances while traveling through Europe during summer vacation. A year of study in France, alone and independent of her family, will be the separation she feels is necessary to become truly adult.

One night in Paris Sophie sees Genevieve, an entrancing older woman, at the same time fate throws her a serious curve ball. Weeks later, the two women reconnect and discover a real attraction between them. Sophie realizes she’s attracted to women, but will the love that Genevieve offers be enough to conquer her new trepidation and fear of being tied to anyone and any place? Would that really be The French Way?

*spoiler alert*

Although a rape occurs, it is not the salacious, almost tantalizing type overused by so many authors. Rather, the character must wrestle with the memories of not struggling too hard, or protesting too loudly, and not having obvious outer wounds. Was what happened to her really rape, or should she hold herself responsible because she didn’t fight enough? This situation occurs to many women. It was a welcome experience to live through this very real struggle through the eyes of Mary Wright’s characters.

I received a free ARC copy of The French Way from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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She’s Proud to be an American

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Traf paying off the mortgage on the house.

America is a nation of immigrants, something people seem to be forgetting these days. I want to tell you about a woman who grew up on an enchanting island in the middles of the Atlantic Ocean and the Twentieth Century. In the interest of full disclosure, Traf is my wife. We will celebrate seventeen years together on April 2nd. This year we’ll have to spend our anniversary apart, but separated only by distance. Our future is secure, in more ways than one.

Although I’ve fictionalized her stories of growing up lesbian on Terceira and am now writing a sequel full of love stories and laughter from her roarin’ twenties, I thought today I’d take a moment to celebrate the true and authentic Trafulha, meu esposa.

One of the most fascinating things about Traf is her ability to dream big and make impossibilities happen. Born a girl on a Catholic island run by men, she dreamed of breaking the mold she was expected to fill and did so. She knew in her heart that she would one day live in America, and made that happen. In her thirties, she studied for, passed, and was sworn in as a naturalized American citizen. She’s been American more of her life than Portuguese and proudly claims that title.

Being a lesbian in the 20th Century was anything but easy, yet my Traf stands proudly today, having achieved the American Dream. She has earned the right to be a citizen of this country and to participate in all its privileges and responsibilities. She votes, she pays taxes, she worked long hours to provide for her two daughters as a single mom, and she did it all without compromising who she is for anyone.

And then late last year she did the impossible, again. My incredible, foreign-born wife paid the mortgage on our house in full. That is something most Americans never achieve or even fully imagine for themselves, we’ve become so conditioned to living in debt. But my woman dreamed it, took a chance, and made it happen!

I love you, my Trafulha. Happy anniversary, honey, and may we have many more.

 

 

Truth is Crueler than Fiction

 boat-55173_960_720I’m on a small Portuguese island right now visiting family and doing research for the sequel to When Butches Cry. My wife and I have an extraordinary friend here. Poverty stricken and born deaf, a woman in her 40s I will call Joba for this post, is a hell of a fisherwoman, making her living by selling bait she gathers endlessly day after day while feeding her mother, daughter, and grand-daughter with fish she catches herself. She has only four or five teeth left and her face is weather-beaten from salt water and sun. She is tall for a Portuguese woman and whipcord thin from walking many miles to find good fishing.
 
Although nearly everyone on the small island of Terceira knows her, very few use her real name. Everyone refers to her as the Mute. I have watched people cheat her of the few euros she charges for the crabs and biting sea worms she gathers at night to sell for bait, and too often she has to dodge rocks thrown at her by vicious young men. Joba learned to fight dirty, striking low and hard without let up, after being raped as a teen (which resulted in her daughter’s birth). She’s earned a formidable reputation as a fighter, instilling fear if not respect in her enemies.
 
The cruelty of her situation is beyond my ken. She is deaf, but most certainly not mute. Somehow or other, with absolutely no education (she went to public school for a few days as a child but the other kids laughed and tormented her so badly she refused to go back), Joba has watched lips enough to simulate words and with broad gestures and facial expressions is quite good at making herself understood by those who take the time to watch and listen. But besides her immediate family, almost no one does.
 
Traf and I always bring her a present of new jeans, shirts, or jackets when we visit because she spends what little extra money she makes on batteries for the flashlight she uses to work at night, fishing gear, and little pleasantries for her family. While Joba appreciates the gifts, they are a pale second to seeing and recognizing Traf, apparently her only friend in the world who enjoys sitting and hearing her stories. Although I speak almost no Portuguese, she always includes me in her conversations, never leaving me out and pausing as Traf translates the parts I don’t understand. To my utter amazement she seems to understand my English (meaning if not words), supplying extra information to make herself understood. She tries to hide her tears when we leave but through mine, I’ve witnessed hers.
 

Her loneliness is deeper, wider, and more intense than any human being’s should ever be. She lives with her guard always up, expecting to be treated as sub-human, or worse, no better than an abandoned animal. Although clearly gifted with an amazing intellect, no one understands just how smart this young woman is to have self-taught herself to speak, fish, swim, and even rescue foolish fishermen who fall into deep water.

About ten years back, she earned enough money to buy herself a small rowboat. That expanded her ability to catch bigger fish for sale to local restaurants and gave her some mobility. She proudly hand-lettered her own name on the small vessel, but within the year someone(s) destroyed the boat, hacking it to pieces unable to be repaired.

I could never have written this type of cruelty into a book if I hadn’t seen it for myself in Joba’s life. Yes, part of her story will be in my sequel to When Butches Cry, but most readers will assume I’ve invented the very real torment of this woman’s everyday existence.

I only wish I had.

Words and Works of Award Winning Author Genta Sebastian

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