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/

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sneak Peek Sunday: Winter Storm

Yes, I went there. If you don't like Frozen, you might want to skip to the excerpt, but if you do...Bear with me for a moment. My wife and I are grateful for our 5-year-old Frozen-obsessed niece in our lives, but even so, we might have watched it. One frightened grandmother in Utah wrote about the alleged "gay agenda" of the movie, while quite a few LGBT writers have remarked that Elsa's struggles could be seen as a metaphor for coming out...

And so, thinking back on Winter Storm, I can see some interesting parallel's to Rebecca's story (and unfortunately, quoting lyrics is always such a hazard I'll just refer you back to your DVD to listen to Idina Menzel again). For all her life, Rebecca has been the "good girl", liked by everybody, fulfilling everyone's expectations, not making waves. Even her friends have barely looked beyond the surface, and when the truth comes out, denial is the first reaction. Her own, that of the people around her, family and even strangers who are used to a certain equilibrium in the small town. In Winter Storm, Rebecca is out and aware, but she and Callie still have a rocky road ahead. There are even trolls...well, not the good kind as in the Disney movie.

When Spring comes to Autumn Leaves in book 3 of the series, the ice is melting. Rebecca is no longer afraid, and this causes the ones closest to her to open their hearts and minds in return. Of course, there will always be those who can't find it in them to accept others the way they truly are, and we learned from Frozen, you just don't do business with them.

The good win. In the movie, and in my story. Sadly, it doesn't always work out that way in real life, but that's the beauty of fiction, escape for sure, but also the idea of a better future--in this case, a life more authentic.

But now, on to the promised excerpt:






Rebecca felt incredibly relieved after her meeting with the Tunisian couple who had opened their restaurant last fall. They had liked her work, didn’t require too many changes, and she had a check in her purse. Life was looking up. She didn’t look forward to the viewing of the house with David, but it had to be done at some point. Maybe they could get away with some cash even after paying David’s mother her share.
There was pain in handing over something that contained so many memories. In the end, though, she's always known that with the decisions she’d made, there would be consequences like this. She took her time looking at some dresses in a window, mentally calculating how long this check would last her, and how long until the next one.
When she turned, there was someone familiar coming her way. For some time, Betty had changed the sidewalk pretending not to notice Rebecca when they met in town, but it was too late for that now. She had wanted to talk after all.
“Rebecca,” she said stiffly. “I didn’t know you were back in town already.”
Rebecca had been angry at her, especially after she’d learned about the visit Betty had paid Callie last year, ranting about sin and punishment. At the moment, all she felt for her one-time friend was sympathy.
“We were just gone for a week,” she said. “I talked to Roz. Seems like a lot happened while we were gone.”
“Sure did,” Betty mumbled, looking around as if she was trying to see who witnessed her interaction. “How are you?”

“Fine.”
“Everything all right with Charles and the kids?”
“Of course. Look…Rebecca.” Finally, Betty met her eyes. “I know we have to talk at some point. I don’t like the way things are between us now. You’ve always been a good friend.”
“Okay. You know there’s still brunch on Saturdays. You could come.”
“Are you sure about that?” Betty asked, more hopeful. Actually, Rebecca wasn’t, but she couldn’t take back her offer now.
“It would be a start.”
“I’ll think about it. Can I call you?”
“Please do. It’s going to be the usual time.”
Betty smiled ruefully. “Thank you.” Rebecca watched her walk away, uncertain if their communication had been a successful one. In any case, she felt even more like spending a little money now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Women: Chase and Rowan by Rhavensfyre

Happy Wednesday, everyone! It's that day again...you know what it means! For this week's Wednesday's Women, Chase and Rowan stopped by for an interview. You know them from Rhavensfyre's novellas "Life is not a Country Song", "Love is not a Romance Novel" and "Life, Love and Loyalty". By the way: You can currently enter a giveaway on Goodreads (ends Oct. 13th) to win one of two paperbacks, and you have the chance to meet Rhavensfyre at the GCLS event in Provincetown during Women's Week. But now, on to Chase and Rowan...

Take it away, Ladies!

Interviewer (I): Hi there! Today we have Chase and Rowan with us. Ladies, thank you for taking some time out of her very busy schedule to meet with me. I will try not to take up too much of your time.

Rowan (R): No problem. We are in between groups right now.

I: Would you like to explain the groups to everyone?

R: I think Chase would be better at that, since she is the one in charge.

Chase (C): Um, Hi. Yes, we run a therapeutic riding program for troubled youth. Generally, they are ones in the foster system, but not always. The program helps give them a sense of accomplishment and responsibility.

I: Responsibility?

C: Yes. When they arrive here they are assigned a horse and they are responsible for that horse the entire time. Feeding, watering, all the grooming and pucky picking.

I: Interesting. Now, while I still have you. I heard that you two met in quite an interesting way. Something about a beat up old pick-up truck?

R: Oh, God! That pick-up truck. I still wonder if you would have made it here with that thing.

C: Well, I would have tried. But, in answer to your question. It was an interesting first meeting. That old truck meant a lot to me, but not as much as Smoothy here. It was the first vehicle I bought with my own money and it took both of us to a lot of shows when I was first starting out in the circuit. (Pause) It actually looked better under the hood, you know.

R: (Laughing) Oh! Now I want to try and get it back. I know you have a love for old jalopies.

C: It was worth it. I got more out of leaving that old truck behind then I ever expected.

I: Aww, that’s sweet.

R: Hey! You are so lucky we like you.

I: I should point out at this time that Rowan, Chase and I have been friends for a while now. I was fortunate enough to score an interview with Dee St. John, Rowan’s father, earlier this summer where he insisted on putting me on a horse’s back. That’s where I met Chase, since you can’t meet one without the other her on the Flying S. (Pauses) Now Rowan, I have it from an inside source that you prefer country music …

C: … and that you sing badly.

I: (coughs) …but no one seems to know what Chase listens to. Care to share, Chase?

R: You told her!

C: Not me. I bet it was Rob. But, you do sing all the time.

R: It would be like Rob to try and get his two cents in.

C: At least he didn’t tell her about how you decided to serenade me while we were driving cross-country.

R: No, but you just did!

C: Oops.

I: Alright, ladies. Let’s get this interview back on track. How about I just get on to the next question?

R: Okay.

C: Sure.

I: You two have been quite the talk of the town, should I say…an item. Any word on what you two are planning next? Any wedding bells in the future?

C: Um….

R: Hey, that’s my line. (grins)

(PS: I'm all for the wedding bells...just saying.
-Barbara)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sneak Peek Sunday: Spring Fever

When their story starts (Autumn Leaves) Rebecca Lowman hasn't been personally confronted with homophobia until she, in her late thirties, falls for another woman and dares to be who she feels she truly is.
A world of expectations is crumbling: From her community, her family, her circle of friends, and, lastly, herself.
From the first excitement of falling in love, there's a feel of confusion, homelessness, in book 2, Winter Storm. Callie and Rebecca are together, but they still live in somewhat separate worlds, or so it seems. When most of what you believed to be true, isn't anymore, where do you belong?
They work through all those questions and doubts, even after the confrontation with Callie's ex, and some unfriendly townspeople, and when Spring arrives in Autumn Leaves, an evolution has taken place. Rebecca has learned to listen and learn, and she gets over the guilt, but also over feeling intimidated by Callie and her friends who came out at a much younger age. In realizing that this community is hers too, despite the differences in background and experiences, she manages to handle diversity from strangers and even her husband differently.

Before Rebecca, Callie has had serious doubts that she'd find a woman who would stay with her--or she could stay with. After the abusive relationship with Nicole, on and off "beneficial" friendship with Asha and some in between, she has to believe that Rebecca not only turned up her own life upside down to be with her, but wants to stay.


“Damn it,” Callie swore as the zipper of her dress got stuck again. There was a reason for her to be nervous. She could do the small town life in reasonable doses—brunch, church, the occasional restaurant visit. Today, almost everyone in town would be present. Roz was born and raised in Autumn Leaves, and her new business would attract lots of attention—hopefully buying customers too. Rebecca stepped in to solve the zipper problem, laughing softly.
“Don’t worry. I swear, this time, neither of us is going to be the center of attention.” Callie smiled at their reflection in the mirror—the warm touch going a long way to calm her nerves. It was true. They had walked in each other’s world—Callie, when she’d sat in church, witnessing Rebecca telling the truth to the whole congregation. Rebecca had accompanied Callie to a book gala earlier this year—a beautiful time unfortunately overshadowed by Nicole’s return. The separation didn’t exist anymore. There weren’t any two worlds, just the one they shared. The realization made her tear up.
“Yeah, I know,” Rebecca said. “That’s a lot of progress we made. Today is Roz’s day though. She really earned it.”
“You had a part in it too. You gave her great promotion materials.”
“It was fun to do, but now, I think we should get the girls and actually go?” Callie cast a rueful look at the immaculately made bed.
“It will be fine,” Rebecca assured her. “Just think of ways to work off all that cake and champagne we’re going to have.”
“You think Miss Romano will be there?” Callie asked, her cheeks burning. The change of topic was on purpose. Otherwise, there was a chance they’d never leave this room.
“I hope so. I want to know which parent in Maggie’s class is harassing my child, and once I do, I’d like to have a private chat with them.” “Yes, me too. Okay. Let’s go meet the townspeople.” Rebecca was right. There would be no more talk behind their backs than usual. It had gotten a lot less in the past few months, and eventually, no one would care.

From the first irresistible attraction, to some sobering realities, to the present in Spring Fever, Callie and Rebecca's relationship has become stronger, and they need that certainty to deal with the challenges they face...until their story becomes full circle in Summer Wine (coming 2015).


On Amazon or directly from Eternal Press. (use promo code 20EPdb14 at checkout to save 25% on all EP titles).