Greetings folks. June is Pride Month, and while for some it means rainbow flags and marches, for others it’s a time to reflect. What does it mean to celebrate the LGBTQ community and all of the folks that are included in that varied spectrum? I can’t speak for all, in fact for a long time I didn’t want to speak for anyone, but this year Pride has taken on a bit of a different meaning for me after some soul-searching and realizations.
I never came out to anyone, but I’ve always known I was different, and now I have a word for it. I’m queer. What does that mean? I have been pondering that for a long time, and it means different things for different people. I didn’t have a word for it growing up. Back then it was a negative. You were a girl or a boy. Period. If you were a girl you liked boys or if you were a boy you liked girls, unless you were in the movies and then there were magical places where it didn’t matter who you liked. I didn’t grow up seeing people like me in real life so I did what I thought I was supposed to do. I wore dresses and makeup and whatever clothes fashion trends stated were appropriate for me, and I hated it. Okay, I don’t hate my super fun goth/rockabilly/horror-inspired dresses, but I gave up on the other stuff a long time ago. I was a cheerleader, gymnast, and dancer, and never fit in with those girls. I hate feeling pressured into skincare routines, diets, exercise programs (for any other reason than health), and other domestic activities that women are supposed to be good at. No right or wrong, it’s just me. I’ve tried to stop judging folks for the way they choose to spend their lives or who they want to spend them with, and that means I need to stop judging myself for not being a domestic goddess or the right kind of woman. Although I do bake a mean batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies...
I love being a woman, even though I struggle with it. I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished and the fact that I was able to conceive two amazing kids and watch them grow up into beings that taught me so much about what gender identity actually means. My kids made me more aware, they questioned things, and they went through their own experiences, all of which caused me to peel away layers of thinking or beliefs about myself. I married my best friend, who happens to be a dude, I became a teacher and then a counselor...and then I started writing. And I met the most wonderful people along the way. I also spent years feeling depressed and I struggled with my interpersonal relationships. I don’t think that will ever change because I am loud and obnoxious, passionate about things almost to a fault, and I’ve pushed a lot of friends away because of my inability or refusal to change. Not sure if that’s okay or not okay, but it just is. Female friendships have always been awkward for me, and I think that’s because I don’t think like or behave like other women I know a lot of the time, and I’m constantly reminded of that difference. I’ve always tried to support folks who were other, tried to make my students feel safe and accepted, and I think in a way I was doing it for the girl in me who never fit in and refused to try even though it hurt sometimes.
Now, here I am. I’m 47 years old. My kids are almost grown-ass people and they still challenge me. I’ve been married for almost 21 years and we’re still stupid happy together. So where does Pride factor into all that?
I guess it’s me finally realizing that others have felt as I do, experienced what I did, and we made it. The 70s and 80s were a weird time for kids who didn’t know if they wanted the Bionic Woman to be their best friend or girlfriend, who fantasized about hanging out with Bo and Luke Duke because you dug fast cars more than because they were cute, or you watched Purple Rain over and over, but really you were watching Apollonia…If I would have been a teenager now, with the vocabulary and research that queer kids have these days, things would have likely turned out different for me. I wouldn’t change anything about my life now...well except this damned pandemic, but I digress.
For me, Pride is about realizing that the work I do as a teacher or in the romance community, or how I live my personal life is important, especially if something I write makes someone think, or if a student feels better in my class upon seeing my Orgullo bracelet, or if a friend has a child who is questioning their identity or orientation and needs someone to talk to. And I’m okay with that. I’m happy. I’m successful. And I’m doing what I want to be doing with my life. I write stories about folks in all kinds of relationships that focus on hope because we all know how much that is needed right now. I still have so much to learn about other folks on the LGBTQ spectrum, but I’ve found a community that supports me and that means so much. I want that for everyone.
So for me, Pride means reflecting on all of those things about myself and the things that I do every day to try to make this world a better place.
Plus, I really dig rainbows.
Thank you for being here. If you want to do something to support folks in the LGBTQ community during Pride, how about picking up this charity anthology Love Is All Volume 3! All proceeds will be donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which works to bring awareness to the struggles of our Black Trans folks who really need our support, especially in light of recent events. I also have a wacky paranormal series out that’s part of the Magic and Mayhem Universe and you can find that here. Thanks to Love Romance Reads for having me today!
Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance..
Love Is All Vol. 3
Seven bestselling and award-winning authors bring you brand new stories celebrating love is love! All proceeds from the sale of the anthology will be donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which protects and defends the rights of Black Transgender people.
Custard and Kisses by Sophia Soames
Falling Faster by Susan Scott Shelley
Pole Kisses by Wendy Gold
Hands Off by Connor Peterson
I Want More by R.L. Merrill
The Start of Something New by Megan Hart
To Build a Home by Xio Axelrod
More About R.L.
R.L. Merrill brings you quirky and relatable characters and romance full of Hope, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll. Whether she’s writing about contemporary issues that affect us all or diving deep into the paranormal and supernatural to give readers a shiver, she loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after. Ro spends every spare moment improving her craft and striving to find that perfect balance between real life and happily ever after. Winner of the 2019 Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Best Contemporary award for Hurricane Reese, she writes LGBTQ romances for Dreamspinner Press, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and works on various other projects that tickle her fancy or benefit a worthy cause. You can find her lurking on social media, where she loves connecting with readers, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Stay Tuned for more Rock 'n' Romance.
Summer vacation and my mind always goes back to…libraries and their summer reading programmes.
One summer vacation when I was ten, we went to stay with my great aunt in St Paul, MN. It was a several days journey from the San Francisco Bay Area. We camped at various national parks, including Yellowstone and Dinosaur National Monument. Back in the seventies, you did not have to wear a seatbelt so I was the one in the way back of the station wagon, lying on mattresses and reading one of the three books that my parents had given me for the journey. I must have read them a dozen times.
When we arrived at my great aunt’s house, to my profound joy, there was a library at the corner which I could walk to. For the first time, I was allowed to get books out and could go back day after day to get more. Because two of my aunt’s friends were retired children’s librarians, I was introduced to the delights of Robert Lawson as well as scaring myself silly on Lois Duncan and Edgar Eager Half Magic. By the end of the two weeks, my obsession with reading quickly had become a lifelong habit!
Later that summer, the children’s librarian at my local library had a wonderful idea of doing a reading hour combined with handicrafts. For example, I knew how to knit so the idea was that I could listen to her reading a book while I knit. If I encountered problems knitting, she’d help out. Several other people did drawing and one boy carved a wooden horse (from what I can recall). The librarian read The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M Boston which she called one of the most perfect books ever.
The Children of Green Knowe lived long in my memory, particularly its garden where the children played. And I longed to go.
Then when my children were on their summer holidays one year, we went down to the Cambridge Folk Festival (I moved to the UK permanently when I married in 1988). I happened to notice that the garden at the Manor at Hemmingford Grey ( http://www.greenknowe.co.uk/gallery1.html) was open and only a slight detour. This is the garden and house where Lucy M Boston lived and which she used as inspiration for her series of children’s books. So I made sure that we visited and then that they read the book. Because what is summer without reading?
Did anyone else love visiting the library during their summer vacations when they were growing?
Conveniently Wed to the Viking
July 1, 2020
Historical ~ Viking ~ Runaway Bride ~ Friends to Lovers
Strangers on the run
Now they must wed!
Sandulf, youngest of the famed Sigurdsson brothers, is on the trail of the assassin who murdered his family. On his way, he meets Scottish runaway Lady Ceanna, a prickly, wary woman trying to escape a forced marriage. Her beauty and courage make Sandulf realize there may be more at stake than his revenge… As the threat of her family follows them, there’s only one way to keep her safe--marriage!
Sons of Sigurd
Driven by revenge, redeemed by love
Book 1 — Stolen by the Viking by Michelle Willingham
Book 2 — Falling for Her Viking Captive by Harper St. George
Book 3 — Conveniently Wed to the Viking by Michelle Styles
Book 4 — Redeeming Her Viking Warrior by Jenni Fletcher
Book 5 — Tempted by Her Viking Enemy by Terri Brisbin
“Perfection! Michelle has this massive gift with words which transport the reader to another time.”
--Chicks, Rogues and Scandals on A Deal with Her Rebel Viking
“Five Stars! Ms. Styles is becoming my go-to author for Viking stories. It was extremely well written, the story comes to life, rich in detail. Highly recommend!”
--Rose is Reading on A Deal with Her Rebel Viking
More About Michelle
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods including Viking, Regency, early Victorian, and the Roman world. Born and raised near San Francisco, California, Michelle currently lives a few miles south of Hadrian's Wall with her husband, three children and menagerie of pets. An avid reader, she became hooked on historical romance when she discovered Georgette Heyer, Anya Seton and Victoria Holt in her school's library. Her website can be found at www.michellestyles.co.u
Into The Black
May 21, 2020
Science Fiction ~ Mystery ~ Romance
She wanted to make her mark. How hard could it be?
In 2130, at Bijoux de L’Etoile, a high-end casino orbiting Earth, you can get anything you desire.
Newly-hired as an investigator, Janey McCallister wants to solve her first big case—the theft of a priceless gem.
When her case of theft escalates to murder and points to the seedy underbelly of world affairs, Janey has to rely on her new team and trust the mysterious insurance investigator, Orlando Valdez—before a killer escapes into the black.
Into The Black is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough heroine with secrets.
Janey McCallister Mystery series
Into The Black (Book 1)
Lured By Light (Book 2)
Gone Green (Book 3)
Red Running Deep (Book 4)
Other Books By Beth Barany
Henrietta The Dragon Slayer YA Adventure Fantasy series (3 books)
Touchstone series, sweet sensual paranormal romance (5 books)
More About Beth
Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy and fantasy romance. Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance and adventure to empower women and girls to jump into life with both feet and be the heroes in their own lives. In her off hours, Beth enjoys walking her neighborhood, gardening on her patio, and watching movies and traveling with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano and over 1,000 books. When not writing or playing, Beth runs her own company helping novelists as a book midwife, coach, and teacher to help them write, market, and publish their books.
Many of my family vacations were spent at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, where summer begins on December 1 and ends of the last day of February.
My very first memory is from early childhood: a holiday spent with my parents in a caravan park beneath enormous Norfolk pines which still stand today. I remember the early morning sunlight, the unfamiliar smell of fuel stoves in the cool of the morning; and the little Scotch terrier with his tartan jacket. I’d never seen a dog like that before.
The nightly carnival ground fascinated me: the rides, the sounds and smells, various stalls, atmosphere, and loud music. Dean Martin’s ‘Volare’, which must have been a hit at the time, played continuously.
The evening family concerts in the park provided entertainment enjoyed by both children and adults were something to look forward to every Christmas holiday.
The carnival and concerts continued for many years until their demise, which sadly, marked the end of an era.
Every morning we lazed on the sand beneath the beach umbrella, or surfed the waves. If a shark ventured close to the swimming area, warning bells rang, and everyone scrambled from the water until it was safe to return.
During one holiday, hundreds of enormous round jelly fish covered the entire beach. I tiptoed very carefully between them on my way to the kiosk and back again.
In the afternoons, mum, my sister and I walked along the beach or played in the sand while dad fished in the surf.
We’d often do the nature walk around Burleigh Headland, staying on the path while keeping an eye out for pythons and other snakes.
There were many interesting educational visits to Dr. David Fleays Wildlife Sanctuary. At every visit, I’d hope to see the platypus and, only once, was rewarded with a brief glimpse of this elusive and unique mammal. http://www.fleayswildlife.com.au/about-david-fleay/
Occasionally we’d visit the porpoise pool at Snapper Rocks and enjoy watching the porpoises being fed.
Following a tropical downpour, many of the campers in the camp ground next door packed up the bits and pieces of their drenched belongings and saturated tents and left. A sudden end to what was a perfect summer vacation.
In the mid-sixties, a live band entertained beachgoers on Burleigh Beach with hits from the popular artists of that time: Manfred Mann, Rolling Stones, and Beatles, to name a few. Though now I don’t remember the name of the band, I certainly enjoyed their music.
Just a few years later, the family holidays ended when I transferred interstate with my work.
Attractive Paige Delaney is more woman than Jack Shannon wants in his life, though he's in serious need of her award winning skills in web design. Paige believes her sexy new boss thinks he's God's gift to woman. Both are single parents with shattered dreams and damaged hearts, having suffered betrayals of trust in previous relationships. Each desires to love and be loved, but they are afraid to trust the opposite sex again.
When Jack moves into his new house and discovers Paige is his next door neighbour, their protective barriers and personal goals are threatened. Is it fate or their teenage children conspiring to push them together?
More About Joanie
I am an Australian author of contemporary romance. My novels are a mix of sweet and sexy feel-good stories. I just love a happy ending. With my own romantic hero, I love to travel and have visited parts of the world I never dreamed I'd see. From the UK to US; Italy, Croatia, Spain and Portugal; Tunisia, where I took a camel ride into the Sahara desert; Morocco, Paris; the Baltic Capitals, Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands; Noumea, and late last year, Iceland and Wales. A summary of my visit to Iceland and link to a Writing Retreat in Wales is on the news page of my website. Home, family and friends are important to me. I have blended these elements into some of my stories.
I love it when authors make me crave food. It means they’ve transported me into the world they’ve created and made me hunger to join their characters. I remember a particular romance novel by Jen Crusie that had me hopping in the car to go buy Dove bars, and another that had me in the kitchen making banana bread. (Of course, my version had chocolate chips in it.) But in any case, I’d been caught up in the story.
Since I write on my lunch hours, I often find my characters are eating. Holy cannoli, do they love food, kind of like me.
Currently, I’m crafting a tale set in the world of L.A. fashion. Mia, my tall, curvy heroine, works as junior apparel designer; and although she’s comfortable in her shape, she does feel the pinch to stay slim. To conform to the expectations of her work environment, she makes a particular effort to eat salads, even while preferring high-caloric foods like double-fudge brownies. (Hmm, perhaps I’m writing a bit of myself into this novel.) Still, in keeping with the story, I’ve come up with a summer salad I love, and I’ve decided to give Mia the credit.
Mia’s Summer Fresh Salad
Note: I always add the apple in on the top; so that even if there are leftovers, the apple gets eaten up, as it won’t be pretty the next day.
Dish the salad onto pretty, festive plates. Leave the dressing on the side, to be added as desired.
I find the salad pairs well with champagne for a fresh, summery feel.
In closing, let me say that the addition of double fudge brownies for dessert is, of course, optional, but definitely desired, and always a personal favorite.
Steal My Heart
Hot contemporary ~ Romantic suspense
When a fantasy turns into a cold reality
Lexanne Harris had a plan down to the last sexy detail. Never did she think her attempt to spice up her love life with her boyfriend would involve her in a burglary with a sexier than sin thief whose emerald eyes and serious between the sheets skills are impossible to forget. As a police detective she is expected to stand on the side of the law and fight for justice. But what happens when the lines of justice blur and what’s wrong becomes way too tempting?
The situation might be challenging but Lexanne is determined to get assigned to the case, recover the jewels and catch the culprit.
The question is: What will she do with her sexy cat burglar when she catches him?
More About Aimee
Having lived in both California and Texas, Aimee O’Brian now resides in the beautiful wine country. With her three children grown and experiencing their own adventures, she and her husband are free to explore the world. When she’s not reading, writing, or planting even more perennials in her garden, she can be found stomping through ancient ruins and getting lost in museums.