Monthly Archives: May 2013

A little remembering…and a fic rec.

The story I’m reccing is called “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” by T.A. Webb. It tells the story of Auntie Social, a drag queen who has made raising money for HIV and AIDS research her top priority in life. It’s a free download on Amazon right now and it’s most definitely worth the read. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Hear-Boy-ebook/dp/B00BXVLPJA/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1369677475&sr=1-6&keywords=ta+webb

After reading it, I did a lot of thinking. The story takes us back to the early 80’s when HIV and AIDS was discovered and the absolutely terrifying backlash the LGBT community faced. Gay cancer was one of the nicer things it was called and so many people were convinced that God had called it down upon the Sodomites to wipe them from existence.

It’s ridiculous of course. AIDS is just a disease…a horrible, terrible disease…but God really had nothing to do with it. Anyone can get it and no one is immune. Great strides have been taken and there’s hope on the horizon, I think, but it’s going to plague humanity for a long time.

One of the things that struck me after reading the story was that the whole awful situation back then was made so much worse by the fact that the gay community was mostly still forced into hiding. It occurred to me that so many of the lives that this disease has taken might have been saved if only people hadn’t been so afraid.

The governments who were afraid to admit that this was a problem that affected more than just the gay community. The men and women who were infected and died alone because they were afraid to tell their friends and loved ones what had happened to them. The members of the gay community who unwittingly made things worse with the lifestyle they were forced to live because they were so afraid of how they would be treated that they hid away in bathhouses and the back rooms of clubs.

And that’s what this post is about. The people we’ve lost. When I think of all the people who might have done something amazing if only they’d not had the chance snatched away from them it makes my head spin. They died before ever being given the chance to reach their full potential and the immense scope of that loss weighs me down sometimes.

The loss of those a little more ordinary is crushing as well. Mothers and fathers whose children never got to know them or who never got to be born. Or worse, moms and dads who no longer have children to parent. Friends whose deaths left gaping holes in the people who loved them and counted on them to make their lives better.

This was an epidemic born out of fear that has grown to a global pandemic and I wonder how many have died or will die that could have been saved with a little open-minded thinking and some courage on the part of the world’s leaders.

I remember the first time I saw the movie “And the Band Played On” in 1993. I was 24 years old and I remember being horrified by the stupidity of so many people involved. The meaning of the name of the movie escaped me until I watched it again recently.

I could be wrong but the first thing I think of when I hear the movie title is the sinking of the Titanic. The tragedy of the Titanic and the lives lost were the result of sheer arrogance. The people in charge were so sure that they were right, they didn’t bother to take the most basic of precautions. And as the ship sank, the band played on because there was nothing else they could do to save themselves.

And so it went. The government denied there was a problem and so refused to issue any warnings or take any precautions. So the disease spread and more people died.

This is one of those things that almost overwhelms me with feelings and I have so much to say, but can’t seem to find the words to express myself in the way that I want. The thrum of anger and sadness and frustration runs under my skin when I allow myself to think about it too much.

I don’t know anyone who is HIV positive. At least, not that I’m aware of. It’s another one of those issues that’s personal for me because it should be seen as personal for everyone. It can happen to anyone.

One in five people who are HIV positive are unaware they are infected.

Every 9.5 minutes someone in the US is infected.

More than one million people in the US are HIV positive.

50,000 people are infected every year.

Since 1981 619,000 people have died in the US alone as a result of contracting HIV. The loss of life is staggering.

27% of new infections in 2009 were from heterosexual contact.

61% of new infections in 2009 were in MSM (men who have sex with men)

Injection drug user’s made up the rest of the new infections in 2009.

Sobering statistics indeed from http://www.aids.gov/.

I think somewhere along the way people fell under the impression that the crisis is over. We became complacent and because of that, it somehow seem less important to find ways to educate people so that we could stop the spread of this killer.

It’s still so important. As long as people are dying from HIV related infections, we are losing something that can’t be replaced.

Somewhere along the way, the focus of this post changed direction a little for me. I started writing about fear, but now I want to talk about hope.

Most importantly, keep yourself safe…always. You are the only one who can every single time.

If you need help, look for it. I know that’s easier said than done, but please don’t let fear kill you.

Do what you can to help others. Support HIV initiatives, get involved in fundraising and awareness campaigns. Let people know that this issue hadn’t gone away or gotten better.

In Canada, go here to offer your support and to educate yourself. http://www.cdnaids.ca/welcome

So, this is my Monday Rant. I’m trying to spend less time focusing on making things better for me and spend more time focusing on making things better for others. I have a feeling that it will help me more in the long run.

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Reader to writer…a long road. with bonus giveaway!

So, I promised a giveaway today and I’ll get to that, but first I have to ramble a bit.

A lot of people who talk to writers want to ask the same questions. Where do you get your ideas? What’s the hardest part about writing? And of course, how did you get to be a writer?

That’s a good question actually. Not sure my answer makes any sense but here it goes.

As I’ve stated on here before, I was a reader long before I was a writer. I read books like a starving person attacks a free buffet. I love books. They’ve taken me to more places than I will ever get to in real life. I will probably never leave North America, but in my head I’ve already travelled the world.

Some friends and I were talking about the reasons we read the kind of stories we do and for me it’s all about an escape. I love getting lost in a story and being transported to another world. The places I visit aren’t always good and sometimes they’re downright scary but it’s all a part of the adventure.

I didn’t always want to be a writer. I was happy to read, and in fact when I was younger I would have considered writing as one of those things that got in the way of more reading time.

I’d go through bouts of reading romance novels, the trashier the better, and then move on to something historical. I’d read Beatrice Small and then steal my dad’s Bernard Cornwell book. I’d read Clive Cussler and fall in love with Louisa May Alcott.

I adore Dean Koontz and I fell in love with Stephen King twice in my life. The first time when in my early teens, when it was all about having the crap scared out of me. The second time was in my mid-twenties when I discovered that so many of his books were connected to each other. I went back and re-read ever story in a matter of months, looking for those connections and it added a new element of excitement for me.

As a teen, I wrote poetry, but never with any kind of concentration or intent. In my early twenties I started to get the urge to try getting some of the thoughts in my head down on paper. It never went anywhere though. I couldn’t seem to organize all the ideas running through my brain into anything with any sort of order.

It wasn’t until I was forty that I found a way to finally put words into sentences and have them make sense. It started out of pure frustration with a show I loved. The characters were amazing but the writing sucked and all I could think about what “I could do better than that.”

All my first stories are short little missing moments from the show or alternate scenes describing how I thought it should go.

But then I started getting ideas about completely different directions my characters could go and I started putting those down as well.

My first novella, Cowboy Way, was only supposed to be a few chapters and somehow ended up being 26. Once I got started, I found that the characters started to take themselves to new places and I was sort of just along for the ride.

So the “writer” part of my life was born, but I’m still a reader. My reading material is a little different now. Mary Calmes and C. Cardeno top my list of favorite authors, but of course, anything can (and usually does) catch my attention. I can find myself half way through a novel when all I intended was a quick look at the first couple of pages. Doesn’t take much and I’m completely gone for hours.

I hope there’s someone out there who feels the same way about my stories.

So, speaking of my stories, here’s the promised giveaway. Take a look at my stories on Dreamspinner and then comment below with the one you’d like to win. I’ll choose the winner Saturday morning.

Here is the link to my stories at Dreamspinner Press. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_454

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Filed under Giveaway!, I'm so excited!, Writing and thinking.

My mind has been lost in thought…I was worried I’d never find it!

So, I haven’t posted anything in a while. I’ve been sick and when I’m sick, I’m pretty much not good for much of anything but the daily drudgery of real life.

But, I’m better now and I’ve been trying to think of what to write about.

First of all, I’m happy to announce that all my titles, and many more wonderful stories are available for a 25% discount over at Dreamspinner as part of their 6th Anniversary celebration. Go find something new to read! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_454

Okay, now on to what’s been on my mind.

I’ve been trying to figure out how much of a person’s personality and their adult behavior is shaped by their childhood.

I mean, is having a shitty childhood a good enough reason for being a shitty adult? Or at some point, does the fact that you became a grownup and are capable of making your own choices negate all that?

Can you really blame your parents for turning out to be a drug addict or an alcoholic? Is the fact that your parents relationship with each other and with others around them was completely antagonistic and dysfunctional to blame for the fact you’ve never figured out how to have a healthy relationship yourself?

I used to be one of those people who thought that blaming your parents for ruining your life was a cop-out. Your parents might have been selfish, but you grew up and now you make your own choices so the bad choices you make belong to you.

But when I became a parent, I realized how much my child learned from me. She loves to read, listens to most of the same music I do and I’m teaching her to have a much more open-minded view of the world than a lot of kids do.

So if she’s absorbing all the good things that I teach her, it stands to reason that if all I show her are the worst ways to live a life, won’t she pick that up as well?

If you are a child of alcoholic parents who fought constantly and violently, how are you ever going to learn how to not be that way?

I guess you could say that being raised like that should really teach you how not to raise your kids…that you should look at what your parent’s did and vow to be as unlike them as possible.

But I think that’s unrealistic. While it would be nice to think that everyone is strong enough to overcome bad parental influence, it’s not true. Sometimes the only thing you have to hang on to is the one thing that is the worst for you. Figuring out to reject everything your parents taught you is never going to be easy and I don’t ever think that anyone ever truly gets over wanting their parents approval. Even if those parents aren’t worthy of giving it.

If you are so broken by the time you are at the age where your considered to be an adult, is there really any chance of breaking that cycle? I’d like to think so but I’m not really sure.

For example. You are a someone who was raised by parents for whom drinking and fighting was an everyday part of life. To escape from the madness of watching your parents drink themselves into oblivion and then beat the shit out of each other, you turn to alcohol yourself to numb the pain.

By the time you are old enough to legally escape from your misery, you are so addicted to the thing that had been stealing your life since you were a child. Can you then be held accountable for not being able to turn your back on it and live a completely different life?

I don’t know the answers…I wish I did. As you’ve probably guessed, this is personal for me. I’ve watched someone I love slip away and turn into a person I no longer recognize. The potential this person had as a young teenage has long since been lost, having been drowned in a sea of alcohol and self-loathing. They once dreamed about helping kids like them but couldn’t figure out how to get the help for themselves.

God knows I tried. It took a lot of years of effort that went to waste to learn that you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. They have to take the first step and this person has…over and over again, but they can’t seem to get any further along the path than that. It makes me so sad and angry and frustrated, but I’ve finally had to accept that the only thing I can do is be there for them in any capacity that I can. I can’t change them, so I’ve had to change me.

Anyway, that’s where my mind has been. Being sick steals my ability to compose a full sentence but my fevered mind gets stuck on questions I’ll never truly have the answers to.

I’m glad I’m better…and writing. It’s much more satisfying and less likely to drive me out of what’s left of my mind.

I do have a rec today. Talia Carmichael’s Something In Common series is all about people overcoming their pasts and moving on to something better in life. All the stories are heartwarming and they make me wish that everyone could find their way to a better life. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=527

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Filed under Things that bug me., Writing and thinking.

Writer’s block of a different kind.

So, my usual writers block involves not being able to think of anything to write. I think most writers go through this more than once.

But then, I have to be different. My problem is, I have so many ideas and plot bunnies running through my head that I can’t seem to concentrate on just one. I open a story and try to write, then the next place I need to go for another story pops up…or I get an idea for a totally new story that bounces around in my brain, insisting on being let out!

Every song I hear seems to inspire the first few lines of a promising idea…a picture conjures up a scene in my head that won’t let me go. It’s like my brain is on overload and I’m seriously worried about everything just hitting a brain-frying peak and then shutting down completely!

It’s driving me crazy…okay, crazier. I’m a few bricks short of a load to begin with and I really don’t need the extra push to Bonkersville. Writing is how I decompress now. It helps me remember that there’s more to me than changing diapers and scrubbing toilets and handing customers their change.

When I think back to what I did to rid myself of stress before I wrote (I’ve only been at this for almost 4 years) I draw a blank, mostly. I used to sing when I got a chance. I was a karaoke queen and damned proud of it. Set me in front of a room of strangers and let me to at my favorite songs. All the ones that I knew all the words to by the time I was 8 and figured out I could carry a tune. I wasn’t the greatest singer in the world, but I didn’t suck either.

But there’s only so much going out to the bar you can do as you get older…at least if you expect to keep your job and your marriage and finding places to go was getting harder and harder.

But writing…that was something that offered a different kind of release. The stories I write usually reflect the mood I’m in. Terrible things happen to my favorite characters when I’m in a bad mood. And when I’m in a good mood, I write fluff like it’s going out of style, the likes of which would make me roll my eyes in a m/f novel I was reading.

And so now I’m finding ways to distract myself. I’m reading like crazy (thanks for the sales, Dreamspinner) and of course, I’m here sharing my rambling thoughts with all of you because trying to force myself to write is like trying to force myself to sleep….impossible.

And now, because I like to, here’s a rec from me. Just so you know, I rec the stories that got to me in some way. Ones that made me smile..or cry..or both. Stories that touched my heart in some way. I can’t always explain why, it’s why I’m not a reviewer, but every story I put down here has been something amazing to me. They aren’t always the stories that got the critical acclaim, but they are special in some way to me.

Sand and Water by Shae Connor is a story about moving on after heartbreak, however the heartbreak happens. John is a single father who learns that happiness can come in different forms and that finding new happiness doesn’t erase the good things that came before it. Bryan has his own heartache to overcome, but together the find a new way. This is a story that’s sure to leave you with a smile. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2453

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