Sunday, May 12, 2013
We meet both women in the first chapter of Turning Point and Cassidy is clearly in motherhood mode: throwing a party for her five year old son. She's thrown all of herself into this because, honestly, Ryan is her whole emotional world at this point. Brenna is stunned to see this side of Cassidy who presents herself, in her opinion, very differently at the set. This revelation is the catalyst for the events that follow.
My characters' motherhood is an integral part of who they are. I did that purposefully because, for myself, motherhood changed me on a fundamental level and I wanted to share the complex emotional journey that women undergo as they navigate personal adult love while simultaneously handling the many demands of motherhood, both responding to and shepherding their children's emotional growing moments. Very few heterosexual romances do this, and even fewer LGBT romances do this. But it is a present and growing part of the LGBT experience.
In some ways my novel's theme here is more timely now than it was ten years ago when I first was shopping it around. With more and more women able to come out sexually and establish recognized families with their female life partners (what's the state count in the U.S. now? 11?), finding a relationship in the pages of fiction -- which has always been a way to explore life -- that reflects one's own, is extremely validating.
So, whether you are a woman in a relationship with a woman and raising children, or know women raising children in a family together, Turning Point is a story I believe you will enjoy. To read a shared "mom moment" from Turning Point, click the link.
I'm working on book 3 in the the Brenna/Cassidy series and it will focus heavily on the couple becoming a truly blended family with their sons, so if there is a particular mom-moment you'd like to see for either Brenna or Cassidy with any of their children, post in the comments. If I work in your moment to the story, I will acknowledge you in the author notes when it is published.
at 4:00 AM
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Just under 1,000 words from a mom moment in my novel Turning Point. If this intrigues you, follow the link to purchase your own copy today!
Jacques Cheron, Rachelle's husband, brought up the rear, along with a man Brenna did not recognize. She was surprised to realize that it was probably someone from the neighborhood. All talked easily and looked comfortable, dressed in jeans and pullover shirts or sweatshirts. The atmosphere reminded Brenna of her own large family gatherings as a child. Again she marveled at the simplicity. She had never expected to find Cassidy like this.
Looking at her hostess, she noted the woman's soft, grass-green, scoop-neck cotton blouse as she talked quietly with a portly woman standing beside her. What Brenna had thought were slacks were actually dark green jeans. Knife in hand, Cassidy stepped up to the other end of a wooden picnic table covered in drawing paper where some of the children were drawing with crayons on the space in front of them. The half-sheet cake in front of her on the table was decorated with colorful handmade whorls and a stick-figure boy and dog. A boy with blond hair climbed onto the bench at the end and leaned on thin arms over the cake.
"Time for cake?" he asked.
"Yes." Cassidy tucked his shirt in where the tail of it was dangerously close to the icing. Brenna was surprised to realize that he was Cassidy's son. He looked small for five years old.
A dark-haired boy built considerably thicker than Ryan climbed up next to him and yelled, "Sing!"
Brenna smiled and joined in a discordant, yet joyful rendition of "Happy Birthday" to Ryan.
Cassidy cut the cake, occasionally nudging her son's hands away from the blade as he reached to move pieces by hand. Paper plates began to circulate.
Ryan scooped ice cream rather messily, though Cassidy did not appear to mind. She handed Ryan his plate, then another to the boy next to him. The two jumped off the bench and pushed their way out into the yard to sit on the grass and eat. After being served, many of the other children followed.
Brenna stepped up for her piece of cake and overheard the portly woman speaking to Cassidy. "The cake's a hit. That recipe I gave you turned out really well. And I love the decorations."
"Thanks, Gwen." With a warm smile that crinkled the skin at the corner of her eyes and lips, Cassidy leaned forward and pressed her lips briefly to Gwen's cheek. Brenna wondered who this neighbor was to be treated with such casual intimacy.
"Brenna?" Cassidy's voice brought her eyes back up. "Do you want ice cream?"
Jerking her head up as she tried to formulate a response, the first thought Brenna had was that Cassidy's eyes looked different in the sunlight. Softer, Brenna thought. She was more used to the defiant expressions she encountered when they were in character. She reminded herself, Cassidy is not Chris Hanssen, and I'm not Susan Jakes. Brenna tried to remember that she was here because Cassidy had invited her. It was time she related to the woman on a personal level. She cleared her throat. "Yes, thank you."
Passing a paper plate of cake and ice cream, Cassidy made introductions. "Brenna, this is my neighbor, Gwen Talbot. Gwen, this is Brenna Lanigan, from Time Trails."
"Hello. My son, Chance, is Ryan's shadow there." Gwen pointed out the boy next to Ryan where they sat in the grass. The bigger boy was swiping a finger of icing from the top of Ryan's slice. Beside them, Sean had his son, Kieran, sitting next to him and was supervising the messy consumption of cake and ice cream by the two-year-old.
"It's very nice to meet you, Gwen." Brenna stepped back, looking around for a place to sit.
"Sit here," Cassidy suggested, pointing to the bench opposite Rachelle, Jacques, and Rose. "The kids seem to prefer the grass."
"I can see that," she said with a half smile. Clearing aside a few crayons, she settled onto the bench, looking up to see Rachelle sharing small bits of cake and the occasional smear of ice cream with Rose.
Brenna moved aside as Gwen settled to her right, then was unsure where to go when Cassidy settled to her left, having at last served herself a piece of cake. Cassidy's thigh was firm and warm against hers. She resolutely ducked her head to her food.
Always to be counted on for livening up a social occasion, Rachelle started small talk about the L.A. County park system. Cassidy joined in as she described the new installation of fitness stations at her own neighborhood park. Feeling the body moving against her own, Brenna considered getting up, but she became entranced by the voice and the long fingered hands with which Cassidy was illustrating her points.
"You don't work out at a gym?" Rachelle sounded as surprised as Brenna felt.
"Ryan and I can go through the park together. At a gym I have to leave him with the sitting service. I try to limit that."
Brenna asked, "What do you do with him while you're at work?"
"Ryan's in preschool at Gwen's elementary school, so she keeps him with her until I get home."
Quite neighborly, Brenna thought, aware she'd had no such offers from her neighbors. Then again, she tried to keep to herself, and her neighbors in Pacific Palisades, many of them in the business like she was, did the same. Cassidy, it seemed, lived in a more working-class neighborhood. She studied Gwen again and watched the woman respond, "Chance gets time to play with Ryan, so it works out for everyone." The dark-haired woman shrugged as her voice trailed off.
Glancing over her shoulder back to Cassidy, Brenna ducked away from the intense smile Cassidy beamed at her neighbor. "I couldn't have done this without her," Cassidy said.
Thank you for reading my excerpt from Turning Point. I am working on book 3 in this series. If there's a mom moment you'd love to see between Brenna and Cassidy and their kids, let me know in the comments.
at 7:21 PM
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Boston is the city I consider where I came of age. It is there that I matured. I found a course, a direction for my life, settle into my very bones as I walked the city's streets, immersed in the history that I feel still lives within its very air. There is no place like it I have been before, or since. In a tweet in the immediate aftermath of the bombing, I referred to it as the city of my soul.
Even when I can't be there, it is where I envision myself in my mind's eye when I want to calm, to find my center, to rediscover my purpose. I can inhale and it is the scent of the Charles in my nose, or cock my head and hear the unique sounds of its bustle, foot traffic, bicyclists, motorists. Even its rain is soothing, a full soaking, and I could dance in it for hours just sitting at the foot of the Phyllis Wheatley monument, or the first responders' horseshoe on Commonwealth Avenue.
In one summer when I was sixteen, I took in my first concert on the Commons: Jimmy Buffett, and later, I sat with what turned out to be James Taylor and some of his musical friends strumming and singing on a front lawn at dusk in Cambridge. I learned to sail on the Charles. I took in the independence day fireworks and Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade. I participated in my first writing course, taught by the fiction editor of the Boston Globe, and got delightfully lost in an antiquarian bookstore. I've been up the coast to the Plimouth Colony, and west to farmlands.
I sailed a 30-foot sailboat from a slip in Boston Harbor to Martha's Vineyard for a weekend, sleeping overnight in the ship and taking the dingy to the lighthouse for a picnic. The rockiness of the New England coast feels more like home than the miles of sandy beach I frequent here in Florida.
It's so close to me that I will only set a story there if it really fits, if it deserves that space as its backdrop because, to me, Boston isn't just a setting, it is a character itself, and it deserves its life lived through a worthy character.
This past week two someones decided instead to bring death to Boston. On Patriots Day, no less. As we wait and watch, and hope to learn why, I can only close my eyes and inhale... smell the Charles, see the city of my soul alive and strong. I am sixteen again, and everything in the world is possible.
For now, though, I'll share these words I gave to one of my characters who I allowed to live and breathe Boston as I do.
When her father's breathing evened, Margaret quietly slipped out to the second-floor hall and crossed over to her room. She stepped out onto the balcony where she had spent many nights as a young woman determining the direction of her life.That's from a fic I had titled "Coming Home," about a woman who was a teenager during the forced integration of the 1970s, who fled the unrest, determined to see the world. She returns reluctantly only to find her heart had never truly left.
The view was a breathtaking one, or at least it had always seemed so. Row houses and skyline guarded the way down to the Boston wharves. She leaned on her elbows on the wrought-iron railing and smiled.
It had been one of the best places she could have imagined to grow up. Boston Harbor was something of a gateway to the rest of the world, home of the Revolution, and birthplace to a much younger Margaret's dreams. She had learned to sail on the Charles River, had crossed into Cambridge as a teenager for concerts on the green lawns of Boston's arts elite. She chuckled, spying the wide open green space alongside the river's west bank. When she was twelve she had her first kiss on the Esplanade during a Boston Pops Fourth of July celebration.
I went back to Boston, briefly, after my first novel came out and I was headed to P'town (Provincetown, Massachusetts for those unaware) to do a book signing. But I couldn't not walk the streets, down to the waterfront and back up, through South End, to the Commons and all up and down Commonwealth Avenue, to Faneuil Hall, and slipping down to the Esplanade. All in the pouring rain, tears of joy mingling with the water on my face.
I went on to my book signing in P'town, saw the Pilgrim's Monument for the first time, and a host of other sites, but when I roll my inner eye back, it is Boston I see.
Boston is a forever city. Truly. Nothing will bow her.
I really, really need to go back again soon.
at 10:04 AM