Category Archives: #amwriting

Today’s Press Release

A family that’s different, just like mine.
 
Middle-grade readers with two same-sex parents cannot find literature reflecting their own families. Twin Cities author Genta Sebastian has answered that need with her newly released Riding the Rainbow. 

Saint Paul, Minnesota – May 14, 2015 – Breaking new ground, author Genta Sebastian has written an adventure story for middle-grade readers (3rd-6thgrades) about living in a rainbow family. Riding the Rainbow is available on Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide on Thursday, May 14, 2015 from Shadoe Publishing.

Tweeners growing up in rainbow families have been ignored in literature. Kids who live with two same-sex parents have no representation reflecting their life experiences. Riding the Rainbow will fill the gap between picture books for toddlers/emerging readers (Heather has Two Mommies), and coming-of-age tales for teens (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit).

Kids in this age group struggle with hard questions. “Why are you gay? Does that mean I will be gay, too? What do I do when I’m bullied?” With gay marriage a front-page issue, many middle-grade students find themselves in alternative households. Riding the Rainbow reassures them their families are as real as any other.

About Genta Sebastian 

Genta Sebastian, a retired elementary school teacher and storyteller, uses her unique perspectives as a lesbian and author to provide answers to these and other questions in Riding the Rainbow. “I wrote the book the year my youngest grandchild was born,” she said. “By that time I’d been through it with my two daughters, and three older grandchildren. I recognized a need.” Children in rainbow families will be glad she did.

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Robin Williams and I

2014 was a year of mourning great talents. 

Lauren Bacall. Pete Seeger. Dr. Maya Angelou. James Garner. Ruby Dee. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Sid Caesar. Shirley Temple. Mike Nichols. Mickey Rooney. Richard Attenborough. Eli Wallach, Tom Magliozzi, Harold Ramis, Ann B. Davis, Menshach Taylor, Elaine Stritch, and more have all died during the last 363 days.

But on August 11, 2014 the world lost Robin Williams, a man who was a legend in his own time, a tormented creative  talent, and a great humanitarian. His death was deeply personal to me. At the time I had no words to express my grief, my memories, my love for this special man.

I, like so many other people in the world, found Robin Williams to be a genius at humor and heartfelt pathos. His movies made me laugh, and cry. The first time I saw him perform, his TV character Mork literally had me falling off the couch in hysterical laughter. In that moment I began a lifetime of looking forward to his next project, whatever it might be.

I remember the first Comic Relief show in 1986, when Robin (by then I loved him so thoroughly I’d promoted our relationship to a first name basis), Billy Crystal, and Whoopie Goldberg hosted 47 comics telling jokes and being funny to raise money for the homeless. I was working then, and donated what I could, that year and for years after. The laughter was good medicine for what ailed me, and touched the heart in a way completely new to charity. Laughter was the great equalizer – no matter how much or how little you have, when a joke is funny you laugh.

I began to notice little things about Robin’s behavior when he was being interviewed and supposedly ‘off’. I recognized a pattern of behavior that came too close to some of my own, uncomfortably close. A particular interview soon following his father’s death still stands out to me. In him I found a mirror of some of my own torments, a kindred spirit, an understanding soul.

I followed his career closely, enjoying as many performances as I could. I loved some more than others. Popeye, first, where I was not surprised one bit at his sense of comedic timing and delivery, and then The World According to Garp, which stunned me with his ability to play a straight role. The Fisher King, Aladdin, What Dreams May Come, Hook, Jumanji, Happy Feet, and The Birdcage, I’ve watched each of them a dozen times. He made me laugh, he made me cry, he creeped me out (remember One Hour Photo and Insomnia?), and he always made me relate to his character. His career made me happy. I hope it made him happy, too.

When the internet was new and celebrities as inexperienced on it as anyone else, I found a relatively private address for Robin in San Francisco. Thereafter, I sent him a Christmas card every once in a while. I loved picturing him reading my card, so I’d fill it with bits and pieces of things going on in my life, things I couldn’t/wouldn’t tell other people. Looking at it written down, I can see how that might seem a little odd to people, but it was a dearly held (tenuous though it might be) contact with someone I thought of as a friend.

I didn’t hear back from him but that didn’t stop me from shooting my arrows into the darkness, hoping they would strike their target and ultimately be read by him. Since none of my cards were ever returned, I was fairly sure they were being delivered somewhere. That was enough to keep me going.

When I’d been writing for a couple of years, I produced my first YA novel, The Boxer Rebellion. A coming-of-age story about bullying gay kids, it is brutally honest which makes it a challenging read. I sent Robin a copy and asked if he thought it was too harsh, too painful for readers to enjoy. For the first time, I got a response, an acknowledgement that I’d been making contact all along, just one direction.

He sent me a photo of himself dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire and signed it:  To Genta, Write On.

Robin Williams told me to keep writing. That private message between us was enough to keep me pushing that book until it finally found a home and began gathering reviews. I imagine him holding my book in his hands while he read. I like to think of him laughing at the funny parts, fuming at the injustice, and ultimately joining The Boxer Rebellion to fight bullying in schools and on the internet. The photo is framed and hangs over my computer to remind me that Robin Williams believed in me enough to encourage me when I was down.

As we start a new year, in his memory I say to you, “Write on, my friend.” Please remember that the emotional struggles of the truly talented can often be masked behind achievement and praise, written away as fiction. Be gentle with yourself, today and every day of the rest of your life.

My Ridiculously Over-Simplified View of American Politics


Politics are pendulums. Everything swings one direction for a while, as it did from the early ’60’s into the mid ’70’s with liberalism. Oh, what wonderful years those were. Expansion everywhere with support and inclusivity. Civil rights were understood and fought for with a passing understanding of Constitutional guarantees. Creativity was rewarded and encouraged. Idealists thrived, and even got government subsidies and grants. What a wonderful time that was.

Ever since, there’s been a slow and steady resurgence of conservatism. The first I noticed it was when it became important for a significant number of neighbors to be identified with the local churches. That devoted religiosity led directly to inflated patriotism, which in turn led to conservative politics. We’re here now, firmly gripped by the grinning jaws of the Tea Party, held hostage by Wall Street, and left out of socially acceptable ways to rise by our own bootstraps, such as college, internships, and sheer hard work. We’re busy giving the Koch brothers the biggest {excuse the expression} orgasms of their lives.

America is almost to the tipping point. People, and by that I mean the vast majority of Americans, are feeling economically oppressed. Questions about civil equality are leading to conversations. It’s becoming more and more obvious that we are a culture divided deeply into the Haves and the Have-nots. And American Have-nots have a long history of rising up and being heard. Think Selma, Alabama, the vineyards of central California, and Matewan, New Jersey.
Be ready, because the long swing back to liberalism is about to begin, indeed, is already beginning. LGBT folk can marry. Marijuana is being quickly legalized. Black Lives Matter. Soon, those who consider themselves conservative will find themselves questioning their values and choices. Moral weights and measures will change from the rigid, nearly impossible to attain definitions of the 1% for the other 99%, to an expansive understanding of human frailties, realities, and opportunities sooner, rather than later.

So that’s my two cents worth of philosophy for today.

2015 GCLS Award Nominee

http://www.amazon.com/Riding-Rainbow-Genta-Sebastian-ebook/dp/B00K3HADU2/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-2&qid=1399351700

 My novel, Riding the Rainbow, has been nominated for a 2015 GCLS award in the YA category. Yippee!!

In celebration, EVERYONE who responds will receive a free ebook copy of Riding the Rainbow, available for Nooks, Kindles, and in .pdf format.

Make sure to leave a comment below so I know who to contact through private message to find out where to send your FREE copy of Riding the Rainbow!

How Readers and Writers are Different

 I think writing and reading are two different forms of communication.

When writing, the author gives the reader a single-voiced, one-way experience. As a storyteller, the author provides hours of her/his view of the world and creative inspiration. They do it without ever knowing who their reader will be – a shout into the darkness, a gift to the cosmos, a prayer to be heard.

The reader receives this communication, and then chooses whether to attempt to engage the author in a conversation, or not. It used to be the author’s prerogative to refuse to talk to readers, but that time is over. Modern authors that don’t engage with their readers risk marginalization, or worse, revengeful reviews.

Personally, I think every author should cherish communications from their readers, and answer their questions in good faith. I also think readers should feel free to respond to the author’s body of work, but treat the relationship in the same way a purchaser of a painting would one with the artist. Asking about inspiration, technique, subject matter, any manner of things pertaining to the author’s work is fair and encouraged, but it’s crossing a line to ask for personal information, or to presume on a friendship that doesn’t exist. One might develop over time, but in the beginning the author knows nothing about the reader, while the reader has already gathered an impression of the author from the books they’ve written.

It’s easy for a reader to feel close to an author long before the feeling might be reciprocated. Please, gentle readers, approach authors you wish to befriend with a quiet understanding that they are most likely loners by nature. They have to be or no books would ever get written. And it’s their speculative introspection that makes most authors nervous about new relationships.