Sunday, September 6, 2020

No more signed books for awhile

If you went to my website,, and couldn't manage to order autographed books, the reason is that my house burned to the ground in the CZU Complex Fire in California in August, 2020. I no longer have a place to store an inventory, so the sale of autographed books will be on hold for awhile. I haven't had a chance to update my website. That will have to wait until I have more time. I am still offering signed bookplates, but that too will take awhile because I have to order more of them. Also, if you have emailed me asking for signed bookplates and have not received an answer, please email me again. I also lost my email in the fire. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Why I Don’t Write Lesbian Fiction

Several days ago I received an email from a heterosexual woman. She said she started reading Book I of my trilogy without realizing there would be lesbians in it, and she almost stopped reading, but the story and the writing wouldn’t let her stop. She ended up reading the entire trilogy. Twice.

This was my reply to her and it may answer some questions for some of my other readers as well:

I realize I am being premature, but white people will now read Toni Morrison and Amy Tan because they—well, most of them—recognize that those authors are not writing about black people or Asian people, but people, and people who are not so very different from themselves. I hope someday gay people will be seen as just people too.

I market my books to the mainstream because I did not write them for gay people. I wrote them for young people, male and female, and for women, because I believe women are finally coming into power in the real world and we need to do a much better job than men have done.

I wrote them for everyone open-minded enough to see love and not just sex in same-sex relationships. Frankly I have never understood why a straight person would believe their own experience of love (and sex) is any different from a gay person’s experience of love (and sex).

And I wrote them for the not-so-open-minded folks, because they refuse to get to know gay people, so perhaps they can get to know us in a book and see that we are not monsters.

I market to the mainstream because teenagers and young people who are questioning their sexuality will not look in the gay ghetto for things to read. They won’t look there because they’re terrified that’s where they belong. And for many of them it’s the worst thing in the world. So if they can find a book that shows them their own hearts, and that their hearts are beautiful just as they are, it may help them build their self-esteem. And when the world tries to shame them, perhaps they won’t feel the need to shame themselves. I correspond with young people who tell me my book saved their life. Possibly not an exaggeration.


I would add to the above that the reason mainstream readers haven’t encountered many gay people, especially gay protagonists, in traditionally published fiction is that traditional publishers have been reluctant to publish those books. That’s easing up a bit now, perhaps because of the success of indie authors writing LGBT fiction.

But several years ago I asked a traditionally published author if her publisher would have allowed her to make her protagonist gay. Her reply: Absolutely not! Gay supporting characters were OK, but not the hero. She later clarified that traditional publishers feared alienating their mainstream audience, that they believed a mainstream audience would not be able to identify with a gay protagonist.

It has always been difficult for the LGBT community to find ourselves represented in mainstream media. At the moment, some popular TV shows (The 100, The Walking Dead) are facing a backlash from gay fans because they have employed, yet again, the Lesbian Death Trope™. Anyone who has read Vito Russo’s book, The Celluloid Closet, or seen the film of the same name, knows that because gay people were considered either sick or sinful until quite recently, any representation of a gay person had to end with their downfall. Sometimes it was death. Sometimes they turned heterosexual. Sometimes they went mad.

The point of those endings was to express the disapproval that society felt for gay people and to reassure their “normal” audience that “immoral” people never prosper. So we were portrayed as immoral people who would never deserve a happy ending. The tragedy in that is that so many young gay people choose to leave a world where they are assured that although they might have a moment of happiness, they will never have a happily ever after.

#clexa #the100 #twd #lesbiandeathtrope

Thursday, December 10, 2015

What is the price of salt?

This is a review of the book, The Price of Salt, which has now been made into a movie, Carol.


The Price of Salt, published in 1952, is considered the first book—and the only one for a very long time afterwards—to depict a lesbian relationship with a happy ending. Having just reread it, what strikes me now is how anyone, even lesbians, especially lesbians, could have thought that losing custody of your child with no visitation rights and being publicly humiliated in court and in the newspapers constituted a happy ending.

But we said, “At least neither of them died or went to jail or was committed to a mental institution or gave up her beloved to live a ‘normal’ life married to a man.” Because that was what happened to lesbian lovers in pulp fiction. And pulp fiction was the only place you could find stories about lesbian lovers.

When I puzzled over the title, The Price of Salt, what first occurred to me was a quote from the book of Matthew in the New Testament:
… if the salt should lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?
I later learned from a biography of Patricia Highsmith that that is indeed where the title came from. In asking the price of salt, she is asking what price a person must pay to live an authentic life. In those days it was a high price, if it was possible at all.

At the end of the book Carol and Therese have a future together, and for us that was enough. So The Price of Salt does not have a happy ending, but it does have a hopeful one. And I am hopeful that the release of the movie will herald a time when no one, no matter how ‘different’, must settle for a life unsalted, without savour.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Meet the Characters Blog Tour

I was invited by Michele M. Reynolds to join the “Meet My Main Characters Blog Tour.”
This is a blog tour for authors to share information about stories they are currently writing. I am not, yet, actually writing, but my next story seems to be working itself out somewhere in the back of my head, so I am able to offer a few tidbits here.

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
She’s a fictional person. I don’t know her name yet. I probably won’t discover it until I know a lot more about her.

2) When and where is the story set?
The story is set in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s or early 1980s. I’m still working on the timeline.

3) What should we know about him/her?
My first protagonist, Tamras in the When Women Were Warriors trilogy, was 16. I think my new protagonist is also going to be 16. I’m starting to think I may be a case of arrested development.
I do seem to have a fascination with the point in a young person’s life when she takes that first irrevocable step toward becoming the person she is meant to be.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Something that has always intrigued me is the secrets families keep and the fact that each child comes into a world, and into a family, where things have happened they know nothing about. My protagonist has an intuition that there is a family secret she needs to know in order to get on with her own life. And the more her family denies there is a secret, the more she is convinced it’s an important one.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
To discover the identity and whereabouts of someone she remembers from when she was very small, someone no one will talk to her about.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
No idea for a title yet.

7) When can we expect the book to be published?
My trilogy took ten years to write and two years to publish, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. That said, my new story is much simpler, and will probably be much shorter.

I haven’t tagged anyone else to participate in this blog tour, so if you’re an author and would like to participate, consider yourself tagged. You can leave a comment here with the link to your post.