Category Archives: Authors

Win a Free Copy of When Butches Cry

 

Hootenanny day-7

Women and Words, a fabulous site for women authors, is hosting their annual Holiday Hootenanny. Click on the banner above and it will take you to their magical site where, by simply leaving a comment, you may enter for a chance to win any of the books or opportunities listed on the Hootenanny 2017 – Day 7 page!

Good luck and Happy Hootenanny-ing to one and all!

 

 


 

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Authorial Heroes

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John Steinbeck is mine, and I’m guessing an author’s name came springing to your lips when you read the title of this post.

Because they offer us different lives to live (if only while we’re enjoying their stories) storytellers are our greatest teachers. They give us diverse shoes to wear, opening our minds to possibilities unconsidered. They are our conscience and consciousness.

Why is John Steinbeck my authorial hero? Because he wrote Cannery Row. Doc, Mack, and Lee Chong tell the stories of the denizens of Cannery Row in Monterey, California. The people range from middle-class to homeless citizens, each trying to make their way through life as best they can, wishing each other well but ending up in pickles of their own making. I love the way he interrupts his primary tale with short stories of particular people who never appear again. The woman who gives tea parties for the neighborhood cats, the neglected boy who can’t quite control his hand-eye coordination, a wife who won’t accept her new home in an abandoned, windowless cannery steampipe unless she has curtains, and Hazel who’s mastered the ability of never answering a question by always asking a new one, these are the jewels scattered along the row. Perhaps one of the finest character driven stories ever told.

Of course, other authors and stories have made profound impacts on my life, far too many to even try to list. Some authors write better, others have offered more insightful characters, the stories told much deeper than friends planning a party. But when I think of who I’d most like to be compared to as a writer it’s always John Steinbeck.

Too bad he wasn’t a woman.

Who is your authorial hero? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

Looking to Pirate my Books?

Pirate  This was originally blogged two years ago, but I find it extremely timely, as I’m afraid too many of us do. Thank you, Bridget Essex, for explaining it perfectly.

Bridget Essex, Author

I’ve been a little quiet lately because I’ve been a little depressed about something. I’ve been working every day, so my sadness hasn’t affected my output thankfully (and, hopefully, A Knight to Remember will be out tomorrow, depending on how the final edits go today!). But I’m an honest person, and I’m also pretty open about stuff, so I thought I would share with you what’s made me sad.

A lot of people pirate my books. A lot. At Rose and Star Press, we purposefully make certain that every file we put on sites like Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes and Noble is not DRM encrypted. What does that mean? That basically means that if you pay for our books on one device, we want you to be able to put that book on any other device you want, so the book itself is shareable. Now, of course, this is…

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Rita Mae Brown, Dorothy Allison, Lee Lynch, and I Walked Into A Ballroom….

I spent last week far away from wife and home in New Orleans, Louisiana. I did it because my book, Riding the Rainbow, was a finalist in the 2015 Golden Crown Literary Award in the YA category.

Due to situations beyond our control, our income is limited. I had not planned on attending when I first found out about Riding making it to the finalist short list. I was disappointed, but what can you do? Kids need feeding, the mortgage needs paying, etc.. ad nauseam. I figure I’d prepare an acceptance speech, just in case, and ask a friend to accept for me if the long shot paid off.

I didn’t expect to win. There are some very high profile lesbian authors whose books were also on the finalist list, all of them from publishing companies like Bold Stroke Books, Sapphire Books, Bella Books, and other notable publishers. At the time it was nominated, Riding the Rainbow was self-published. I figured among the glittering lesbian literati my little book would be lost.

Then I was contacted by GCLS and offered a last minute scholarship because someone else had dropped out. I talked it over with my wife, we checked the piggy bank, and off I went on a wish and a prayer.

I had a marvelous time attending panels and giving a short reading from A Man’s Man, my newest YA release. I was stunned to tears by the power of Dorothy Allison’s reading from her classic, Bastard Out of Carolina. I was impressed by the friendliness of the conference board members, and enjoyed meeting and making new friends. One night another author treated me to dinner at Muriel’s, a notoriously haunted restaurant, followed by paranormal authors reading from their work. I looked for ghosties, but couldn’t find any. I was so entertained I didn’t worry about the award, at least until Friday night.

That night I tossed and turned, fighting off an unnamed fear. I couldn’t sleep, and dragged my way through the morning, fighting off tears I couldn’t explain. I was afraid of losing, sure. But I also seemed to be afraid of winning. Friends tried to buck me up, but no matter what words they used, how hard or long they hugged me, I couldn’t shake a feeling of paralyzing fear. I was so tense, that only an hour and a half before the Awards Presentation began I lifted something too heavy for me and twisted my back.

I struggled through a shower I couldn’t stand straight in, and lay down on the bed to wait for the Advil I took to kick in. I phoned my wife, who soothed my ragged nerves and reminded me that in her eyes I’ve always been a winner. By the time I hung up my back was looser, I was calmer, and I could dress in my special outfit carefully chosen for the occasion.

I sat at a table with new friends, enjoying the festivities. My heart beat loudly in my chest as the YA category neared, but I’d prepared myself to graciously lose. I drank a glass of wine, prepped my cell phone’s camera to capture the screen shot of my book’s cover when it was announced, and surreptitiously crossed my fingers under the table.

When the presenters in my category announced, “…Riding the Rainbow by Genta Sebastian!” my table erupted with cheers and everyone jumped up from their seats. I stumbled up to the stage and realized that seated directly in front of me sat – are you ready for this? RITA MAE BROWN, DOROTHY ALLISON, and LEE LYNCH. If I hadn’t already been as nervous as it is possible for me to be short of fainting, I would have lost my voice then and there. Thank goodness I didn’t.

I gave my acceptance speech, stumbled off stage with my very heavy award, and made my way back to my table of friends. The rest of the evening was a surreal experience.

It was a night I will never forget. And I learned some very important things from all of this:

1.  My wife is my rock, my center, and my strength, no matter how many miles separate us.
2.  The fear of winning is almost as powerful as the fear of losing.

and 3. Winning awards is totally addicting.

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.

Costa Rica, Baby!

There are many things an author can do to improve their skills. Some of them include being positive, diligent, and keeping your butt in the chair. Those are the things that keep us writing.

But what about the depth and breadth of our stories? For that you need to interact with people and places new to you. Meet people from other cultures, and cheerfully learn from them. Visit other lands and see how your world and their’s differ. Embrace the similarities between peoples, and celebrate the unique qualities of every culture you can. Be an ambassador for your country, but more importantly, gather friends from around the world. Share stories, explain jokes, try new things, and push your comfort zone until it expands willingly.

In other words, travel.

My wife and I (I just love saying that) like to save our money and go somewhere every year, when possible. With the economy the way it’s been lately, that’s been easier said than done. But we found out about *cue heavenly choir* all-inclusive resorts. In the past, we’ve always been conscious of costs, constantly monitoring our remaining resources and anxiously going cheap to be sure we can cover everything.

All that changed when our daughter won a contest and we ended up at Riu Guanacaste, in Costa Rica. Once we’d presented our photo ID’s, we locked up our wallets and passports in the room safe, and never worried about money again until just before leaving. Gifts, souvenirs, and tips were all we spent money on. Everything else had been prepaid. Talk about relaxing!

Now, I’m a self published author, and retired school teacher. My wife is also retired. Our income is not great, and I won’t lie, the resorts can be a little pricey. That’s why it’s important to book early, and get a good travel agents who will look for upgrades. We travel non-stop from our snowbound hometown directly to Costa Rica. No switching planes, and far fewer chances for lost luggage. The hassle factor is less than a three. The shuttle is there waiting for the plane, and within an hour we were checking in at the resort, sipping on fresh mango slushies in the very sultry air.

Thus began a vacation unlike any I’d ever known before. I felt as if I’d stepped onto the Love Boat, or Fantasy Island. Everything was exquisitely clean, the staff professional, and the accommodations, while not luxurious, overlooked the grounds leading out to a full sea-view. It was a major upgrade from our typical hop from one over priced hotel room to another.

From early in the morning until late at night, planned activities for both adults and children were available, led by friendly staff members. We were encouraged to stretch on the beach (which we declined) and to tour the kitchens (which we happily joined). Water volleyball had it’s own cove in the huge swimming pool, as did a corner that was used every morning to give free scuba-diving lessons. Bingo, an entertainment we haven’t had time for lately, offered small bottles of local rum, t-shirts, and coffee mugs to daily winners, and it was free! You only get one card, but that’s usually all you need.


And then there was the food, and the drinks, and the entertainment, and too much for me to include in just one post. So I’ll see you tomorrow, same bat-station, same bat-channel. POW. And yes, there are bats in Costa Rica, little tiny ones that prefer mangoes to blood.