Monday, November 24, 2014

Let's talk about love... (and HEAs in lesbian fiction)


The interpretation of love and the truth differs depending on who you ask.

 I’m a hopeless romantic, believe in love at first sight (or the second, or third, but early on in the process), in soul mates, two people made for each other. It’s a theme that you will find often in my books. Of course, for the sake of fiction (and because I enjoy it), there’ll be drama thrown in, but eventually, the characters will get their happily ever after.

The only reason why they won’t stay together is when they weren’t meant to be, but in that case, there’s another end game waiting.

The Interpretation of Love and the Truth follows some of those ideas, and the question, what is love in the first place? Can it mean different things to different people, and where’s the common denominator? It also brings in another important aspect: Timing.
 
 

Chelsea meets Tonya when she just made it out of the closet and is quickly attracted to her, for her confidence and many other reasons. Tonya is a player, a woman with unsolved commitment issues—a recipe for disaster and heartbreak.

In the aftermath of this experience, Chelsea decides that she won’t give too much importance to flying sparks, when she can have something that seems a lot less dangerous: A relationship that’s warm and reliable, without the danger to get hurt. A little boring maybe, but it’s safe—and maybe safe is the best you can hope for. She is planning her wedding with her girlfriend Gail when Tonya comes back to town, chastised, changed—has she really?—and determined to make up for the lost time and past mistakes.

I follow discussions about romance novels and requirements for the characters’ relationship--especially in lesbian fiction--with interest. I often hear they fall in love too quickly (I’m guilty, sometimes, no apologies), and that one aspect or another is unrealistic.
 
When you look at the lives of real people, how they meet and fall in love, there’s hardly anything that’s too far-fetched. I bet you my own story would sound unrealistic to you, and it would have to me, had someone told me in younger years. As a psychologist, I heard many stories that confirmed what I believe about love and the possibilities—that you can find The One, and no other relationship can compare. It’s somebody’s life experience—that makes it true.

There are many ways to tell a love story, and there’s something for everyone out there. Just like in real life.

Besides, our stories have been hardly visible for so long—I believe we deserve all the happy endings we can get, and then some.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cover reveal & Thunderclap: The Interpretation of Love and the Truth

First of all: Here's the gorgeous cover for my upcoming romance The Interpretation of Love and the Truth, by Eternal Press artist Dawné Dominique:


This contemporary romance will be out Dec 1st, and it explores questions about what that one true love really means. Safety? Sparks? What's the necessary foundation for a marriage?

I have started a Thunderclap campaign in order to get the word out, and I hope you have a moment to check it out and maybe lend a hand--a tweet, FB or tumblr post, that is. The more the merrier! http://thndr.it/1tEJnLa Thank you so much! I appreciate your support.


The Interpretation of Love and the Truth:

Chelsea and Gail are engaged to get married. Their relationship is safe, comfortable and without conflict. According to Tonya Gray, it also lacks the passion you should feel for the person you commit to for the rest of your life--but why would Chelsea trust her, when Tonya broke her heart three years ago? As the date nears, Chelsea has to figure out if love means what she has with her fiancée, or what she could have with the woman she couldn’t forget.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Women: Rachel Cross by J. L. Gaynor

It's time for another Wednesday Woman! Today, Rachel Cross from J. L. Gaynor's "Ascension" (Sisterhood of the Guardianship) visits. Read from her file, and then hear it from Jen:
 
 
 
From the personnel files of the Guardianship:

 
Rachel Cross

Full Name:
Cross, Rachel Leigh

Nick Name(s):
Rae

Gender: Female

Age:
19

Birthday/year: March 20, 1995

Marital Status: Single

Hair:
Brown, shoulder length; professional blonde/red highlights

Eyes:
Blue

Origin:
Pine Valley, New Jersey


Language(s):
English, Gaelic, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, German

Height:
5’8”

Weight: 145

Distinguishing characteristics: Piercings- left ear, two; right ear, three; navel; tongue.  Tattoos- Goddess’s prayer, left bicep; tribal dragon, right bicep; Celtic cross, right hand; Celtic warrior knot, abdomen; Celtic knot, right hip.

 Education: Briarwood Academy, Princeton, New Jersey; Prindell University, Grymes, New York- international business and finance, degree incomplete 

Parents: Cross, Anna Sophia (deceased); Cross, Richard Charles (deceased)

Siblings: Cross, Jenna Elizabeth (deceased)

Guardians: Selezeneau, Alexandria

Current Location:
Grymes, New York

Status: Active

Personal: Mother died in child birth, father died of heart attack, sister murdered by Master vampire when Cross/Rachel age six.  Raised by Selezeneau/Alexandria and Foster/Lindsay.  Heiress to Cross Industries fortune. 

 
Expert marksman with several different types of hand guns and assault rifles.  Expert linguist.

Termination count: 125

 
When I was about five or six, I was at my grandparents’ house.  My grandmother was out doing something and my grandfather was snoozing in front of the TV so I ended up watching something I shouldn’t have.  Blackula came on channel 29 and when I saw him rise from his coffin, I was terrified.  I slept with the blankets up to my chin until I was in junior high.  My first vampire novel was Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and I’ve been hooked on the vampire mythos since. 

            With Rachel Cross and her merry band of ass kicking female warriors, I wanted to take the vampire myth in a different direction.  Vampires have been cinema and novel darlings since Nosferatu.  I’ve also got a fascination with myth and legend from various cultures throughout history especially those from my own Scots-Irish roots. 

            Originally, Rachel looked nothing like she does today.  The story I concocted, way back in my high school days of writing in notebooks when I should have been paying attention, was of a set of twins who were cursed by a vampire.  They wore silver crosses that were supposed to protect them.  The cursed twin concept evolved over the years until it was a sisterhood of vampire hunters with one bad ass as the leader.  There are still twins in the story but they are secondary characters.

            Rachel Cross hasn’t had the most ideal upbringing despite being heiress to an international, multi-billion dollar corporation founded by her grandfather.  She was a happy accident for her parents, who already had a 15-year-old daughter named Jenna.  Her mother died due to complications in child birth, her father had a fatal heart attack when she was five and her sister was murdered by a master vampire when she was six, effectively making her an orphan.  Alexandra Selezeanu, a vampire who had endured her own traumatic experiences, steps in to raise Rachel and get her ready for Guardianship training.

            Ascension, the first of the Sisterhood of the Guardianship books, follows Rachel from her Guardianship training through to her assuming leadership of the Guardianship.  Bolstered by Delilah Henderson, her mentor, and Petra Lenkovitch, Delilah’s best friend and sometime lover, Rachel has plenty to contend with.  There are Rogue vampires, a drug turning rave goers into mindless monsters and a rival bunch of vampire hunters called Slayers, led by the psychotic Donna Wilson.  Add in a pretty, mysterious artist as a love interest and Rachel has her hands full.

            Hunted, Ascension’s follow-up, is coming soon.  I don’t have an exact date yet but I’m hoping not too far into the New Year.  In Hunted, we find Rachel two years later and still working to cope with events from Ascension.  She’s taken well to the role of leader of the Guardianship while balancing the ‘normal’ aspects of her life with school, ice hockey, friends and a new love.  Her hopes and dreams of a future free from the violence and bloodshed of the Guardianship go sideways when a psychotic vampire sets her sights on Rachel and her loved ones.  Everything she holds dear is threatened and she is pushed to the very limits of her sanity.

            Hunted is in for editing and I’m currently at work on Fallen, the third Sisterhood of the Guardianship book which I’m hoping to have out by late 2015.
 
 
 
 
About J.L.:
 
J.L. Gaynor is a proud native of New Jersey.  She has been writing since grade school and whiles away the daylight hours at a desk in an office.  A self-professed nerd, she is a fan of video games, graphic novels and bad horror movies.
Ascension is her second publishing go-round and her first book, Drive, can be found at all major e-book retailers.   You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jl.gaynor and Twitter at https://twitter.com/JLGaynor01.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday Women: Jayce and Emma

Today, I'd like to offer you a glimpse into the lives of two of my own characters, Jayce Finney and Emma Curtis. They are the leading ladies in a free short story on Wattpad, Halfway Home. If you like, you can check it out here.


 
Emma's life takes a downward spiral when her girlfriend shoots a store owner and no one believes she was completely innocent in the matter. Emma makes it through betrayal and her prison sentence, and she is sent to a halfway house, where she does her best to stay under the radar and try to come to terms with all the ways her life will never be the same. Her goal is to be in her own apartment by Christmas--and she doesn't need anything (or anyone) to mess with that goal.

Jayce has just returned to work after an extended medical leave following a car accident. She is investigating suspected drug dealings connected to the halfway house, going undercover. Jayce needs a success, as much for her confidence as much as for her career--prove to everyone that she's back and at a 100%. She soon finds out who the players are, and that Emma is not one of them. She wants to protect her from the fallout, her motivation not all professional, but at the same time, she can't compromise her cover.

If you like mystery with a touch of romance, and a hint of the holidays even, Emma and Jayce's story is for you--and it gives you a pretty good idea of what I enjoy writing most--lesbian fiction with high drama and happy endings!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesday Women: Jan and Angie by Cindy Rizzo

I've been intrigued by award-winning author Cindy Rizzo's Love Is Enough from the moment I first saw the cover, and it's on my ever-growing TBR list. Politics, money and love in a lesbian romance? What's not to be intrigued? So today, we talk about Angie Antonelli and Jan Clifford. Thank you so much for joining the Wednesday Women!

(graphic provided by author)

Angie Antonelli Love Is Enough by Cindy Rizzo

Cindy: I thought I’d introduce Angie Antonelli by talking a bit about the arc of her story. What I mean…

Robin Greene: Excuse me, but I’m already half asleep. You’re going to talk about my best friend and you start out with the most boring (not to mention pompous) idea of describing her so-called arc. Look, I’m a writer too and I’d never talk about my characters that way. Have a little respect. This is a member of Congress you’re writing about. Who knows, she could be President one day. I wouldn’t put it past her.

Cindy: Well then, what’s your fabulous idea about how to describe Angie, oh great and powerful writer?

Robin:

Fine, I’ll save you from yourself and rescue poor Barbara Winkes from having to post a snooze-fest on her blog.

Angie is one of the best people in the world. I know that’s a lot to say, but I can’t help it, it’s true. She really cares about all that stuff she talks aboutthe ability of politics to bring about change, the need to rescue small businesses, the right of all people to not have their vote taken away. I mean, as they said during her campaign, shes The Real Deal. I should know. Not only is she my best friend, I also write a lot of her speeches (another situation where I rescue someone from having to inflict boring prose onto the world).

You know, Angie was groomed for political office by her family, probably since she was in the womb. Her dad was the mayor of their town and she has a million relatives who’ve been elected to stuff. But really, the main force behind it all is her mother, Jeannette. I could write a whole blog post on her, and never use the word "arc" once!

So Angie’s had a lot of success. She wins every office she goes for by convincing people she cares about them (and she really does) and by using her lexicon of smiles. That woman has a different smile for every occasion and they are all just magnetic. How do you think Jan Clifford got reeled in?

I mean, Angie’s love life had been in the doldrums before she met Jan. She’d never gotten over being dumped our senior year of college by that awful Nicky Ford, the quintessential Poor Little Rich Girl. Ugh. If you ask me, Angie dodged a bullet when that relationship ended. But she didn’t see it that way. She went into a tailspin that lasted forever. After that, she got involved with loser after loser, until she met Jan Clifford. Yes, another rich jock (Angie has an unfortunate type) but a really, really good person. Jan Clifford even passed The Galileo Test (it’s worth the price of Rizzo’s book alone to find out what that is)! But then Angie got trapped in the ladies room at that event at Princeton she went to with Jan, having to listen to three mean girls say she was nothing compared to Jan’s ex. Oh, and then the thing happened with Angie’s re-election and what seemed like a sure thing no longer was.

Cindy: Robin…

Robin: What? Oh, am I at the 500-word limit already? All right. I’ll just stop here and end by saying that everyone who meets Angie can’t help but be charmed. Read that cute little romance called Love Is Enough, and you’ll see why.



Love Is Enough:
Angie Antonelli has the life she’s always wanteda promising political career, a supportive family, and great friends. The one thing missing is what she hoped she’d have by now, a committed relationship with the woman of her dreams.

 
Jan Clifford has been taking a break from dating while she figures out how to create a life that is more fulfilling than the country club society of her parents and her job in the family’s investment firm. 

 
When Angie and Jan are set up on a blind date to go sailing, the chemistry is immediate and the attraction undeniable, but each wonders if she can really fit into the other’s world. Can the politician who fights for the little guy make things work with the financier who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth?

 
Before it has time to get very far, this new relationship is put to the test. First, Angie must decide how she really feels when the woman who broke her heart many years ago suddenly comes back into her life. And then the worlds of politics and finance collide when Jan refuses to walk away from a business deal that threatens Angie’s re-election to a second term in Congress. 

Can the intense connection they feel keep Angie and Jan together? Only hopeless romantics believe that love is enough. Or is it?

 

From the author of the award-winning debut novel, Exception to the Rule, Cindy Rizzo once again delivers a riveting story that blends romance with the important issues of our time. 

 
About Cindy:
Cindy Rizzo’s first novel, Exception to the Rule, won the 2014 award for Best Debut Fiction from Golden Crown Literary Society.  Her short story, The Miracle of the Lights, will be published in the upcoming anthology Unwrap These Presents (Ylva Publishing).  Earlier writing includes essays in the anthologies, Lesbians Raising Sons and Homefronts: Controversies in Non-Traditional Parenting.  Cindy was also the co-editor of a fiction anthology, All the Ways Home, published in 1995 (New Victoria) in which her story Herring Cove was included. 

Cindy has worked in philanthropy for many years and has a long history of involvement in the LGBT community.  She serves on the boards of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York and Funders for LGBTQ Issues.   She lives in New York City with her wife, Jennifer, and their two cats.  They have two grown sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and a baby granddaughter.  

 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sneak Peek Sunday: Autumn Leaves

The leaves are changing colors here in Québec, perfect timing for an excerpt from Autumn Leaves. The metaphor of the season is woven into the story--the tug of war between summer and winter, old and new, the beautiful colors, change, nevertheless the idea that something has to end before the new life can begin.
 


Rebecca and David shared a smile as the doorbell rang. Everything was set up to their satisfaction, the food, the party lights, drinks and dishes all in place. If she was honest, Rebecca liked an organizational challenge like this, getting everything ready on time and still having a moment to put on a pretty dress and sandals. It wasn’t like a lot of their guests would acknowledge that, because it was part of all of their reality. Callie possibly would, and Rebecca was beginning to think it wasn’t such a bad thing to be valued.
Maria and Craig were first, joined by Roz who had come alone. Perfect. That would save her from awkward small talk with Betty. Craig went to have a beer with his brother, and Roz engaged Dina in a conversation. The doorbell rang again, and Maggie perked up.
“It’s Callie!” She jumped to her feet, beaming. Rebecca smiled, not so much at her daughter’s reaction as at her own—she’d nearly done the same. All the time, she’d probably been worrying too much. Callie did all right in the community.
“David, Rebecca. Thanks for inviting me.” She had brought a bottle of wine which, Rebecca could tell from the label, was quite expensive.
“You’re very welcome,” David confirmed. “Excuse me.” He went to open the door to more guests, while Rebecca took the offered gift.
“Thank you. I’m not sure I want to share it with my friends though. You’re crazy. This costs a fortune.” Callie leaned a little closer to whisper, “I thought with all the work you did, you should have a little reward. Let’s share it.”
It made Rebecca ridiculously happy that Callie had chosen this wine to bring to the party, not to Asha. “I love that idea,” she said.
Dusk was starting early. It was just a little over an hour later that Rebecca stood by the buffet, mentally dividing the remnants between leftovers and garbage as she usually did. She was distracted again, though, as she was the whole day.
David and Callie were sitting in the swing, having a pleasant conversation as far as she could tell from afar. Strange and a little confusing to see them together like this, the man she had vowed to love and the woman who was all over her mind these days. Across the yard, she realized Betty had caught her looking, a knowing expression on her face. She knew nothing, Rebecca thought with sudden anger. She had no idea how often they, in their small universe, had failed to accept people just because they were different. They had made jokes, more clueless than mean-spirited, but certainly inappropriate. Betty couldn’t possibly understand how bad Rebecca felt about that. She’d gotten lost in Callie’s work of fiction, was torn between wanting to open those doors, but afraid to do so. What if in the end, she got more than she bargained for? There was a moth circling one of the party lights, and Rebecca chose to watch it instead, mesmerized, reminded of her earlier thoughts. If nothing else, she could sympathize with a living being that couldn’t withstand the temptation of being burned.


Will Rebecca give in to temptation? You can find out here:
smarturl.it/AutumnLeavesBW

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday Women: Alex and Cassidy by Nancy Ann Healy

Wednesday Women time! Please welcome Nancy Ann Healy who'll introduce her leading ladies Alex and Cassidy to us. Their story is every bit as intriguing as the covers suggest. And here we go:
 
Alex and Cassidy

Intersection is the first book in a four part series that follows the lives of intelligence agent Alex Toles and school teacher Cassidy O’Brien. The question is frequently asked where the title came from. Intersection is about the intersection of people’s lives. What happens when Alex Toles meets Cassidy O’Brien and they unexpectedly fall in love? The series follows the pair as they build their relationship amid the convoluted chaos of international politics, business, and espionage. The cast of characters is vast and the twists and turns frequent. While the political intrigues moves the story along, at its heart, the series is about people and relationships. How can one relationship tip the entire world on its head?



When I first began developing this series I wanted to explore how love can affect the way a person perceives the world. Moreover, how Alex and Cassidy’s relationship impacts everyone that it touches. There are numerous characters that support the stories and are prominent in Alex and Cassidy’s lives. Every character is directly impacted by the relationship that develops between Alex and Cassidy. The two protagonists share center stage in the series, just as the political story and the development of Alex and Cassidy’s relationship are equal components in every book. Alexis Toles (Alex) is the first character that we meet in the series. Alex thrives on both intellectual and physical challenges. She keeps her life moving at a fast pace, reluctant to engage in lasting relationships and preferring constant travel to the creature comforts of home. When Alex is sent to the home of Cassidy O’Brien, a school teacher and the ex-wife of a prominent congressman, to investigate threats made against the family, she finds herself immersed in a life that is quite foreign to her own. The suburban neighborhood, the routine of family life, and the gentleness of the woman she is assigned to protect, both unsettle and intrigue her.

Cassidy O’Brien is equally unnerved at the prospect of a stranger entering her world. Recently divorced from Congressman Christopher O’Brien, Cassidy has focused her efforts on creating a positive and healthy home for her six year old son, Dylan. A high school English teacher, Cassidy’s life is centered on her students and her family, which includes the presence of her sometimes facetious, always engaging mother, Rose McCollum. She expects the arrival of Agent Alex Toles to be at the least, intrusive and at the worst, controlling. The last thing that either woman expects from the collision of their worlds is to fall in love. Life is full of surprises and quickly Alex and Cassidy find that their differences balance the other. Finding it impossible to avoid or deny their feelings, Alex and Cassidy enter into a whirlwind romance that quickly grows into a lasting relationship.



Alex and Cassidy confront numerous challenges along the way. The unethical dealings of Cassidy’s ex-husband put Dylan and the family at constant risk. The women find themselves unwittingly immersed in a world that is ruled by money, power, and greed. They must place their trust in each other as discoveries of long held secrets, betrayals, and lies are revealed to them both. The greatest challenges for Alex and Cassidy are often found, not in the arena of clandestine affairs, but in the endeavor to balance the needs of a family with the outside pressures of an ever-changing world. Alex must learn to be a partner and a parent, placing the needs of Cassidy and Dylan above her natural inclination to seek adventure. Cassidy must learn to accept Alex’s career and the inherent risks that accompany it. Together they face the judgment of family, the realities associated with raising a child, the insecurities of the past, and the disappointments and joys of building a future.

The second book, Betrayal, finds the pair forced to face the consequences when long held secrets are revealed, while at the same time seeking to take their relationship to the next level. Secrets and lies are not limited to the world of espionage and Alex and Cassidy again must place their trust squarely in each other. Each must reexamine her lifelong beliefs about what constitutes right or wrong. Is every lie, every secret kept, a selfishly motivated act? Secrets and lies are at their core, betrayals of trust. Is there ever just cause for deception? Even in the grace of forgiveness, Alex and Cassidy will be reminded that the emotional fallout of betrayal is profound.

Commitment is the third installment of the series. The political intrigue continues to permeate the lives of the two main characters. The book explores how commitments can either change because of betrayal or endure in spite of it. Each character in the series must decide what he or she will commit to fully; the health of family, the pursuit of power, the passion for an ideal, or the preservation of self. Alex and Cassidy will continue to learn more about each other and the upheavals of building a family together. They will be forced to make difficult decisions, accept truths about their pasts, and overcome their lingering fears and insecurities if they hope to sustain their family and build the future that they seek.

Will Alex and Cassidy have a happy ending? That is a question that many readers ask. Happy endings are not a constant in life. The Alex and Cassidy series is not about happy endings nor is it about cliffhangers and surprises. It is about how people connect to one another and how when two people come together it inevitably causes a collision of countless other lives. Alex and Cassidy’s relationship fundamentally changes how each approaches her role in the world, and by extension it teaches and challenges everyone associated with the pair to reexamine their own lives and actions. The final book, Conspiracy, will reveal the true identity of all of the characters and their roles in the international political landscape that inadvertently brought Alex and Cassidy together. There is no ultimate hero or villain in the Alex and Cassidy series. There are only people. Each person makes choices along the way. It is for the reader to decide who the heroes and villains truly are.

Along this crazy journey I hope that Alex and Cassidy are able to portray a hopeful model of a lesbian couple and family. Their ups and downs, their questions and arguments, their banter and their intimacy, and ultimately their devotion to one another is meant to portray the many dimensions of a loving relationship. Their commitment to one another is constantly impacted by outside forces and challenged by internal battles, but in the end, they will remain united. Neither protagonist will meet a tragic end. One will not run from the other in fear. And conversely, there will be no perfect Disney ending to Alex and Cassidy’s story. Does that leave it open ended? Life is open ended, a series of choices and actions. To be able to love along the way is our greatest asset and our greatest teacher, and that is what Alex and Cassidy’s journey is truly about.


To learn more about Alex and Cassidy:http://alexncassidy.com/

To read more of Nancy's writing:http://thebumblingbard.com/