Editing My Life

My therapist gave me the optional homework of keeping a journal about how it makes me feel that I’m not out to my parents. I’m using this blog—at least for the next couple of entries—as a journal. I’ll understand if you don’t want to read on, but I hope you’ll rejoin me when I’ve worked this out. (Who knows, maybe this will end up being the only entry. I’m so undisciplined.)

My therapist feels that hiding parts of my life from my parents, excluding them from half my life, takes its toll on me. She believes that it has contributed to my feelings of low self-worth, since hiding something equates a sense of shame and, ergo, a lack of self-esteem. And it’s an understandable hypothesis. It makes sense.

It’s become just my way of life, this hiding of things. I don’t like doing it, never did. But it’s natural now. Do my parents know that I’ve written a novel, a novella, and numerous published short stories? No. Do they know that I’ve co-edited several anthologies, including one that’s up for a prestigious literary award? No. I’ve always referred to this as editing my life.

Do I feel bad about that? Yes. Of course. I wish I could share my accomplishments with them.

When my heart was broken after my long-term relationship ended, could I cry on my mother’s shoulder? Could I share with her my heartache and feelings of failure, rejection, and despondency? No, I couldn’t. It made me feel lonely.

But I also felt guilty that I was not sharing these things with my mother. Aren’t these the kinds of things that were meant for mother-daughter talks?

I feel bad for my mother. I feel like I’ve deprived her of so much: helping me plan my wedding, grandchildren, and being her daughter’s confidante. I couldn’t give her any of those. (Walking down the aisle to the waiting arms of another woman would have been beyond her understanding.)

I feel like shit. I feel like a bad daughter. I feel like I disappointed my parents, and have disappointed everyone ever since, from lovers to teachers to bosses. I simply don’t live up to what’s expected of me.

There. My therapist just earned her degree.

Green-Eyed Monster Is a Bitch

Some of you already know—and for those of you who don’t know—I write a weekly blog over at Women & Words. Back in February, I wrote about how my frustration over not being able to succeed in selling a certain nonfiction project led me to hate someone.

This someone has nothing to do with my work (except that she writes in that genre as well) and certainly nothing to do with my failure. I have absolutely no reason to hate her.

Except that she achieved what I wanted.

But why do I hate her and not the so many other writers who also achieved what I wanted? Because I met her and she told me her story. Without going into too many details, she “got lucky” (her words) and got this idea for a book; simultaneously, there was a publisher who was looking for a writer to do a book on that very topic. And just like that, she’d succeeded in getting what I wanted.

I had been riding the proverbial merry-go-round for years, trying to grab the brass ring. But every time I went around and reached for it, it slipped through my fingers. On her very first ride on the damned horse, this person grabbed the ring, and it’s been shining on her finger ever since. She not only sold the project but got a contract for additional books and managed to get on board with one of the top literary agents in the country—the one that I so very much wanted to represent me. Three years later, she has several books out and, I’m sure, more in the works.

She’s a perfectly nice person. Sweet, actually. And she even tried to “help” me by introducing me to her agent. I swallowed the humiliation of a younger newbie “helping” me after I’d been working at this for years and took hope that my willingness to be humbled would pay off. It didn’t.

And so, with each book of hers that comes out, each cool thing I see about her on Facebook, makes me hate her a little more.

It’s completely irrational and unfair to this other writer. And detrimental to me. It’s not good going through life hating people, especially those who don’t really deserve your hatred. It’s psychically damaging, and on a more practical level, it just doesn’t help.

The reason this has come up for me again is because two people in my department —TWO—just got offered positions elsewhere, and job hunting is another hot-button issue for me. It’s another area of my life that simply won’t go the way I want it to.

I decided that after years and years of bending over backwards and flipping cartwheels trying to achieve the things I want to achieve, there are some things I just can’t control. I think luck and/or destiny is involved. People who are successful advise others to “follow your heart,” to “do what you love, the money will follow,” and if you work hard enough, you can achieve the things you want. Well, it’s easy for them to say all of this because they got what they wanted. And, while I would never diminish the hard work that they put in and the dues they paid, I believe that they were also lucky.

How else would you explain why two people who work equally hard and, all things being equal, one succeeds and the other one doesn’t? Doesn’t luck have to play a part in this? Think of all the artists out there (actors, writers, painters, etc.) who bust their asses and never make it.

Luck is not something you can force, or find, or buy. You either have it or you don’t. Therefore, there’s no sense in sweating it.

I’ve decided that I will just continue doing what I enjoy doing because I want to do them. That’s the only reason worth doing them, anyway. “Success” will come or not, but being the captain of one’s ship requires someone liking you enough to give you a promotion.

Unless, of course, you’re a pirate. Then you just take it. :-)

Lambda Literary Awards Finalist Reading

Lambda-Medal-150x150I am so excited to announce that my co-editor/co-consipirator, Andi Marquette, and I will be participating in the Lambda Literary Award Finalist reading in New York on April 24. It will take place at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Andi and I were so pleased to find out that we’re finalists for our anthology All You Can Eat. It’s really a great collection of stories from some wonderful writers and I’m very proud of the work we, and Ylva Publishing, did to make this an awesome book.All-you-can-eat_v2_500x800

I’ve done readings before and I’m always a bit nervous, but I’m particularly nervous about this one. I mean, this is a biggie. It’s kind of like being an actor and working your way up to an Oscar. I think there’s going to be a red carpet and everything! My biggest fear is tripping onstage and making a fool of myself. I’m going to have to just stop thinking about that before I jinx myself and make it happen.

Anyway, if you’d like more information about the event, you can visit their Facebook page HERE. In addition to this New York reading, there will be other readings in other locations:

San Francisco, April 21, at the San Francisco Public Library
Northampton, MA, April 22, at the Coolidge Museum at Forbes Library
Los Angeles, CA, May 15, at the West Hollywood Public Library

I hope to see some of you there and I’ll report back after the event. Happy Friday and have a great weekend.

Lambda Literary Awards Finalist Reading – New York City

Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster St., New York, NY 10013
6:30 p.m. reading

 

 

Joy and Sorrow, Together and Apart

Have you ever won anything? A sports trophy? A medal? A commendation for a job well done? A prize for the most cookies, cars, or houses sold? Have you ever won even a runner-up position in a competition? If you’re a writer, have you won something for your writing?

Not me. Ever. For anything. Not even as a runner-up. The closest I ever came was when I received a certificate for having never missed a class when I was in culinary school. (Okay, I did win a small scholarship as well.)

Then, two weeks ago, I got the news that the anthology I co-edited with Andi Marquette, All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance & Erotica, is a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. I was floored. I truly was not expecting it. They receive so many nominations, the odds of getting chosen as a finalist are slim.AllYouCanEat-600x914
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Only 5 months Until Con

Lord have mercy, it’s already March. I just don’t know where February went. I’ve heard so many people have said the same thing.

I think part of the problem is the weather. We’ve all been so slogged down with just getting through the horribleness and just getting through each day that we didn’t notice the days and weeks going by. And now we find ourselves at the end of another month and it’s just all going by too fast.

Pretty soon, it’s going to be time for GCLS again. Yep, it will be here before you know it. This year, it’s going to be in New Orleans, so it’s looking to be a pretty good con.Beebo_Brinker_original_cover_1962

At last year’s con, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Ann Bannon, author of the legendary Beebo Brinker series. She was so humble and sweet, and it was a special moment for me.

This year, the author who will be receiving the Lee Lynch Classic Book Award is Rita Mae Brown. How exciting is that?! Her also-legendary and groundbreaking novel, Rubyfruit Jungle, is a staple of lesbian literature, and has inspired so many women writers who followed. I can’t wait to meet her in person.

Ms. Brown, as far as I’ve seen, has been conspicuously absent from lesbian literary events. I don’t know if it’s because she hasn’t wanted to get involved or if she’s just too busy doing stuff for her mainstream writing career. She has a hugely successful series—the Mrs. Murphy mysteries—and I’m sure that her main focus these days is making the most of that.rubyfruit jungle

And I don’t really blame her. It’s so hard for a writer to make it, especially in today’s market, where self-published books have glutted all categories. It’s especially true of LGBT writers. We have been, for the most part, ghettoized, so if you’re lucky enough to hit on a successful idea, you have to run with it.

The problem with LGBT writers who successfully transition to the mainstream is that they’re often accused of abandoning their community. Amanda Kyle Williams spoke of this happening to her when she began her Keye Street series, a mainstream non-LGBT series. In a speech she gave, Ms. Williams stated that she was made to feel like a traitor and eventually retreated from the lesbian literary community because she felt unwelcomed.

I sometimes wonder if the same thing happened to Ms. Brown. Maybe she’ll address that some day.bastard out of carolina

Dorothy Allison, author of the highly acclaimed Bastard Out of Carolina, is going to the Keynote Speaker at GCLS, so I’m gearing up to meet some really great authors this year.

Hope to see some of you there.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

When you take public transportation to get to work, you tend to see the same people all the time. Maybe not every single day, because unlike most other transit systems, here in New York, during rush hour, the trains run every few minutes. So even if you leave your home at roughly the same time every day, you could very easily catch the train before or the train after your usual one, depending on the precise moment you arrive at the station. I see the same people over and over. I’ve never spoken with them, even though I know they exist and they know I exist, because this is New York and that’s just the way it is.

Every once in a while, I see this one guy who sings. And I mean LOUDLY. The entire station can hear him. He can even be heard down on the street (my station is elevated about 25 or 30 feet). I’m not familiar with the songs he sings, but I suspect they’re mostly Christian hymns (although, one time, I could swear he was singing an old Communist worker song).

So yesterday, I went upstairs to the station and there he was inside, just standing there singing his little heart out. As I approached the turnstiles, he stopped singing, but when I went through the turnstile, he picked up another tune and sang the first line or two. As I approached the door leading up to the platform, I looked at him. He looked at me and caught my eye, and it was just at this precise moment that he sang, “Emmanuel, Emmanuel.” I quickly turned away and went through the door (you don’t stare into the cracker barrel for too long, know what I mean?).

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“A Winning Miss”

As I went up the stairs, I wondered what made him sing that word right at the very moment I looked at him. Did it mean something, or was it completely a coincidence? Was it a message or sign? If so, what the hell was it? I’m not very good at interpreting signs, mainly because I’m not sure I believe in them. Some people do. Some people read something into everything. But is the meaning really there, or are people just seeing what they want to see? Or is it both? As I’ve said in the past, I really, truly want to believe that there’s a purpose to the things that happen in my life, that shit doesn’t just happen randomly. Because if that were the case, everything would be about luck and no one wants to believe that they have no luck. That would suck. But I’m just not convinced that everything happens for a reason. I tend to believe that we just throw the dice and how it lands, it lands.

Yet, here was this total stranger, evidently living in his own little reality. He knows nothing about me, and I know nothing about him. He could have chosen to sing any song, he could have started singing it at any time, and he did not need to ever look me in the eye.

But he chose that song, began singing it at just the right time so that the word “Emmanuel” would coincide with my looking at him, and he did look back at me.

Furthermore, I was posting this blog while I was at work this morning. As I was reading through it and trying to decide which Christian song the man was singing that had the name Emmanuel in it (and, consequently, thinking about mentions of Emmanuel in the Bible and what the significance might be), my supervisor passed by my desk to go speak to a co-worker. As she passed by, she said to my co-worker, “Jane, Emmanuel called me…”

Talk about synchronicity.

Is this all coincidence? I mean, really? It’s not like Emmanuel is like John or Mary. What are the odds of these things happening all roundabout the same time? If it is coicidence, is there some meaning to this kind of coicidence or it is really, truly all random shit?

What does it all mean, damn it?!

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Book Blitz!

Hey, everyone! I’m so excited to announce that today I’ve got a book blitz going on. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my longer works and want a sample, now’s the time. Below is an excerpt from my vampire novel, Twice Bitten. I hope you enjoy.

A very big thanks to Debra at Book Enthusiast Promotions and Jove Belle for all of her awesomeness.
twice bitten book blitz

Book Blitz

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Book Title: Twice Bitten
Author: R.G. Emanuelle
Genre: Lesbian Urban Fantasy (Lesbian Vampires)
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Blurb

Fiona lost her mortality unwillingly to a woman she once loved. Now she wanders through the decades, a vampire in search of a soulmate. After 200 years, she thinks she’s found her, in an upper-class family in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Her name is Rose, and if only she will come to her willingly, Fiona will have her eternal companion. But Rose loves another, so Fiona sets in motion a twisted scheme that involves the woman Rose loves and a betrayal that will lead Rose into transformation. Will Rose succumb to Fiona’s machinations and forever lose the woman she truly loves? Or will she find a way to foil the vampire’s devious plan and save her soul—and her beloved’s life? She’s running out of options and, worse, out of time.

excerpt

SUSANNA GLANCED NONCHALANTLY at the long blade glinting in the moonlight. The ivory-inlaid handle was almost obscured by Fiona’s trembling hands. Susanna’s lips twitched into a small smile.

“You won’t do it, Fiona. You love me.”

Fiona flinched at the word love. “I used to. I used to love you with all my heart and soul.”

“And now?”
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