Why I March

I haven’t come out of my writing cave a whole lot lately.

What I AM coming out for is the Women’s March this weekend. My best friend and I took a road trip to Washington D.C.. Tomorrow, on January 21, 2017, we’ll join hundreds of thousands of people there, and more across the world, to say that we don’t agree with the current direction our country is heading.

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You can call it a protest against Trump if you want but it’s about a lot more than just him. It’s a message to everyone, across every political party. It’s about standing up for what I believe in. Letting my voice be heard.

This isn’t sour grapes about an election. It’s an opportunity to unequivocally say that I don’t support the leaders who are trying to dismantle the policies that protect people’s health and safety.

For women.

For LGBTQ people.

For minorities.

For the disabled.

For anyone who has been marginalized or made vulnerable.

This is for the people who can’t speak for themselves.

I have a voice and I need to use it.

So tomorrow I will march. Going forward, I will hold our legislators accountable. I will not sit idly by.

I will not be silenced.


If you want to learn more about the mission and values of the march as a whole, please click here.  https://www.womensmarch.com/mission/

If you want to join us, there are sister marches happening across the world please click here. https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters

Trust Release – Love is Not a Cure-All

Cover Final

I am so excited to share “Trust” with you. I adore Evan and Jeremy and telling their story was wonderfully challenging for me as a writer. “Connection” and “Trust” both required a lot of research to get the details right. In addition, taking two bruised and battered men and bringing them to a point where they were healed enough to have a realistic and healthy HEA was an interesting struggle.

Love is amazing. It’s one of the best things out there as far as I’m concerned. But it doesn’t conquer all. It doesn’t fix gaping wounds.  In some cases, it can bandage them enough to allow time and proper treatment to heal them. It can inspire a person to work harder, be better, fix their own problems. But on it’s own it is not enough.

You’ll probably never read a book of mine where love is the cure-all. The idea that humans must heal themselves is too deeply rooted in my beliefs. Sure, I’ll write characters who make decisions I’ll never make. I will write awful, abusive characters like Evan’s father Jimmie. I’ll write horrible, neglectful characters like Jeremy’s parents, Kevin and Barbara.

But I won’t write main characters whose lives are magically fixed by love. That’s too easy and too unrealistic; it’s not what romance is about to me. To, me the beauty of a story lies in the struggle. Characters learning and growing and changing is what fascinates me.

It took me nearly 145,000 words and the better part of a year (in the story) to get Evan and Jeremy to a point where their HEA felt believable to me. Evan seeing past Jeremy’s scars didn’t cure Jeremy’s discomfort with them. However, it allowed Jeremy to work with his therapist to come to terms with them. Would Jeremy have done it without Evan’s love? Probably not.

Would Evan have been strong enough to tell his mother how he deserved to be treated if not for Jeremy’s love? I doubt it. But Jeremy’s love didn’t cause that, it merely created a safe place for Evan to flourish and grow.

Looking further out, I could argue that Russ and Stephen’s love for Evan and Jeremy was equally crucial for their growth. Because romantic love is only a part of what these men were looking for. All four of them were searching for love and connection. For family and trust and equality. And, in the end, I think that’s what all human beings are searching for.

We want to surround ourselves with people who love and support us. Who create the kind of environment where we can become the best possible versions of ourselves. Who love us, but know that we are the ones who need to do the real work. Who give us that opportunity and are proud of us when we achieve it.

Who love us and let us grow.

Summary:

Evan Harris thinks his relationship with Jeremy Lewis is going well.  But when Jeremy bolts, Evan is left nursing a broken heart. Jeremy loves Evan, but his inability to trust holds him back from facing his past head on and building the future he desperately wants. Evan’s patience is at the breaking point, and he struggles to decide if Jeremy deserves another chance.

Evan Harris thinks his relationship with Jeremy Lewis is going well.  But when Jeremy bolts, Evan is left nursing a broken heart. Jeremy loves Evan, but his inability to trust holds him back from facing his past head on and building the future he desperately wants. Evan’s patience is at the breaking point, and he struggles to decide if Jeremy deserves another chance.

Scarred by his own parents’ treatment of him, Jeremy doesn’t trust Evan’s mother’s motives when she reappears in Evan’s life after his father lands in jail. The ensuing disagreement about his concerns puts further pressure on their developing relationship.

Unless Jeremy can learn to trust and Evan can let go of past hurts, they’ll miss out on the relationship they’ve both been searching for.

Excerpt:

Jeremy wrestled his shoe on and stood. He swayed on his feet for a second as his skin went chalky again. Evan reached for him, but Jeremy shook him off. His anger seemed to dissipate as his shoulders dropped and his voice softened slightly. “Look, it’s time you find out what the rest of the world is like. Go meet guys, go be young and stupid.” He ran his thumb across Evan’s cheek, his smile sad and wistful. “Just not too stupid.”

Evan stared at him. “And what will you being doing?”

Jeremy’s voice came out gruff. “Feeling lucky I was your first for a few things.”

“Don’t do this, Jeremy.” Evan hated the way he sounded, like he was pleading with him. He wanted to drop to his knees and beg Jeremy to stay, but he was afraid that would only make things work. That it would make Evan seem weak in Jeremy’s eyes. “Please.”

“I can’t be the guy you’re looking for,” Jeremy murmured. “You have no idea how much I wish I could, but it’s not possible.”

“Why?” He winced, hating the way his voice cracked. “I don’t understand.”

“I’m too … damaged and I have too much of my own shit to deal with. I can barely manage to give you a handjob much less anything else. I’m not able to be what you need. I’d be a shitty boyfriend.”

Evan straightened and brushed away the tears. “What if—if you didn’t have to commit to me and we … we slept together. It wouldn’t have to mean anything. Give me rules about where I can touch you. You can keep your pants on. I don’t care.” Right then, he wanted anything, whatever Jeremy would give him.

Anything but losing him.

“I’m in no shape for sex and you deserve a hell of lot more than a cripple for a lover.” Jeremy’s voice was surprisingly gentle. “And let’s be honest, it’s more than sex, isn’t it? You want the rest too. Wouldn’t it hurt you to wonder why you weren’t good enough for me to commit to?”

Evan flinched. “I wouldn’t,” he protested, but he knew he was lying.

“You would. And I know I’m hurting you now, but it’ll hurt a lot less than some half-assed non-relationship.” Jeremy brushed Evan’s hair off his forehead. “I care about you, Evan, way more than I should. What happened last night was a mistake and we can’t repeat it.”

“Wasn’t it good?”

“It was perfect.” Jeremy sighed, the corner of his mouth twisting up in a sad smile. “But that makes it worse, right? I can’t give you what you need and it’s going to end badly if we continue. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, Evan.”

“You already have,” Evan whispered.

“Oh, kid.” Jeremy wrapped his arms around Evan and he collapsed gratefully, his cheek against Jeremy’s shoulder. “I know. And I’m sorry.”

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Watch What You Say

In college, I studied psychology.  I won’t get into my disappointment in the lack of clinical experience in the program or the fact that I learned more from the elective classes I took than the required ones for my degree.  What I will say is that hand’s down, the class that stuck with me the most was one of those electives.  It was a counseling and educational psychology course taught by a man who worked tirelessly as a disability advocate.  He worked with the state government, with the Special Olmpics, with more groups than I will ever hope to remember.  He had a wife and family, taught at the university, and he had cerebral palsy.

I was very deliberate in the way I worded the description about him.  It’s one of the lessons I learned in his class.  It might seem like a minor thing to be described as a blind person, or a gay person, or a white person.  None of those are bad things.  But it puts an emphasis on that descriptor.  It puts being blind or gay or white above being a person. Above what someone has accomplished in how ever many years he or she has been on earth.  Is it nit-picky and politically correct to worry about such nuances in the language we use?  Maybe.  But if you’re someone who spends your whole life being defined by those adjectives, maybe it makes a difference.

who are you question

Maybe we should acknowledge people for their accomplishments first.  Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  Would you rather be viewed as a teacher who happens to be blind? Or “that blind guy who teaches”?  Would you rather be a writer who’s a lesbian or “a lesbian writer”.

In that class I met a woman.  An incredible, brilliant, hard-working woman who is a lawyer, has a fantastic husband, and a family.  She also was born without arms or legs.  Now, which do you think she’d rather be known for?  Her accomplishments? Her family? Or the fact that in utero her body developed differently.  There’s no denying that what she’s accomplished is extraordinary. And her disability makes it that much more impressive.  But it shouldn’t define her as a person.  Although it’s shaped her life considerably, it’s only one aspect of who she is.

To be frank, it gets clunky and awkward sometimes when I try to watch how I describe people. I get it wrong. I screw it up, I forget, I get lazy.  But I try to keep it in mind and do my best because it does matter.  At heart, we all want to be known for who we are as a person, for what we’ve accomplished.  Not for the aspects of ourselves that we were born into.

I’m a writer. I’m a woman. I’m bisexual. I’m a person.

Who are you?

And how do you want to be defined?