My Invented Life

Why write about sexuality if you’re not gay?

My debut YA, My Invented Life, centers around big SECRET that drives a wedge between sisters that used to be close. The secret has to do with sexual identity. When the book hit the stores, interviewers often asked me what inspired me to write it.

This question always made me squirm. The easy answer would’ve been, “I wish that funny, uplifting stories with lesbian an bi girls existed back when I was a teen.” Unfortunately that would’ve been a lie. I am not lesbian or bi. I don’t have any LGBT family members. Nor LGBT friends in HS. The challenges of growing up gay did not occur to me until much later. I’m that lame.

In fact, my biggest post-pub fear went something like this: LGBT readers and authors would scoff at my lack of “credentials,” laugh in my face, call me a fraud, or much worse. (False alarm, btw. I learned later that people like me are called allies. I felt very appreciated by the LGBT community.)

Luckily, the interviews were written, so I had time to develop cogent answers.

Reason A: I was inspired by events around my high school reunion. A number of my classmates came out around then. I asked a few about their experience in HS, and was somewhat horrified by their answers.

True.

Reason B: I wanted to write an uplifting story that focused on a friendship between sisters, and how a secret can ruin a friendship. I didn’t want the “coming out” itself to be traumatic.

Also true.

However, the biggest reason didn’t occur to me until after the book got published. Here it is: I can identify with the pain of LGBT teens that hide their true selves from friends because I grew up in the same situation.

Only different.

My mom died when I was five. She didn’t die in a car wreck, of cancer, or in any tragic, yet socially acceptable way. She killed herself. My Dad insisted that my sister and I keep it a secret. I mostly did. But the secret made me feel ashamed. Dark. Dishonest. Disconnected. Fringe.

And that is why I believe in telling the truth, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Some day, I hope to live in a world where we aren’t afraid that others might judge us for who we really are.

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Teens spread love in the face of hate at Taos Pride

I wish I’d brought my camera with me.

Gay Pride in Taos in KCP was a colorful event–dogs in bright sweaters, a drag queen with a full length rainbow boa, and happy dancers on the grass. I went to catch up with friends and listen to the music. My son’s didn’t really want to go with me until they found out there would be extreme religious protesters present. Maybe they could do a sneak attack with squirt guns? My husband suggested water balloons with rainbow paint inside.

 

When we got to the event, though, the reality of the protesters was way too intimidating. They had congregated at one end of the park, wearing matching hats and T-shirts, yelling disgusting and hostile things through their mega-phones. Police were present. Anyone coming in or out of the park had to walk right by them.

 

That’s when I noticed three teen boys holding up hand-made signs, welcoming people who dared to cross the line of hate. I don’t remember what the signs said (and didn’t have my camera!), but the messages were all about love and acceptance. Inspired by this, my sons went home with their friends to create a sign of their own–Jesus Proclaimeth That Hate Achieves Nothing.

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How to alienate your family

Have you ever wondered what happens when a writer models a character in her bestselling novel on a family member? I’d imagine it goes something like this:

Yeah, Dad, you’re right. The dad in my book flies model airplanes like you do, has a mustache that twirls up at the ends like yours, and trekked across Tibet in his youth like you did, but my fictional dad is a jerk, which you are NOT. He totally isn’t you, okay?

I wrote about this today at YA Outside the Lines. You can read the whole post here.

Categories: My Invented Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

YALSA Conference: 350+ cool librarians celebrate diversity

Friday before last, I spoke on a panel at the National YALSA Conference about trends in LGBT teen lit. I had a fab time meeting librarians that have passion around diverse books.

I did a guest post about the experience at Lee Wind’s blog–I’M HERE. I’M QUEER. WHAT THE HELL DO I READ? Go there to read all the fun details.

One of the best parts was meeting up with other authors I know only from conferences or online. We could (and did) talk and laugh for hours!

 

Back L to R: Neesha Meminger, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Malinda Lo, Megan Frazer. Front L to R: Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Cynthea Liu, Me

Cynthea bought a bottle of wine for us all to share, but we never managed to get it open with our cheap corkscrew. Oh well. We look so sad, right?

Categories: My Invented Life, Real Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gay Pride in a small town.

I live in a town of 6,000 people, 20 churches, 30 art galleries, one Non-Super Wal-Mart, and no shopping malls. Bare dirt walkways exceed the number of side-walks by a large margin. And I like it that way.

But it is still full of surprises. A month ago, a chapter of PFLAG started here. And then a dedicated young man, Robert Quintana, began organizing a Gay Pride event for this summer, the first ever.

It started with The Gayest Bake Sale Ever. Which raised $1,400!

I just love this flier!

Keep an eye out for the Gayest Car Wash Ever. Just kidding! But there really will be a huge car wash in early August to raise money for Pride. And dozens of clean cars in town for days afterwards.

After that, there will be galas and parties, culminating Pride in the Park, a picnic with booths, live music, entertainment, and freebies. Come join the fun on August 21st at Kit Carson Park!

It makes me proud to live here.

Categories: My Invented Life, Real Life | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Are you always good?

Jennifer Hubbard, deep thinker and the talented author of  THE SECRET YEAR recently asked me a most excellent question: What’s your philosophy on good and evil in character development?

I love hard questions! Hmmmm.  After much pondering I figured out a few things.

1. I believe that everyone on the planet is capable of good, and everyone is capable of evil.

2. I love reading about flawed characters who (at least somewhat) overcome their glaring imperfection to fulfill a dream.

3. If a character is too perfect, I assume he or she is hiding something.

4. The road to hell is paved with good intentions stupid proverbs. Good intentions are worth a lot!

5. Writing complex characters doesn’t mean you’re providing bad role models. Readers learn just as much from anti-heros as from heros.

6. When a flawed character succeeds, it gives hope to the rest of us.

You can read my answer to Jenn’s question here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

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Bisexuality in teen lit

I wrote this for the GLBT Challenge 2010:

Bisexual characters, especially bi protagonists are unusual in teen lit. A visit to Lee Wind’s website—I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?—makes this clear. Only eight out of 200+ GLBT titles there have bisexual characters or themes. Until recently, the in-betweens hovered on the fringe of the literary rainbow world. For instance, the Lambda Literary Award only began recognizing bisexual lit in 2006, though the award started in 1988. Here are a few of the myths bis have had to overcome–

They go for everything that moves.

They’re not as committed to the gay movement “real” gays.

They prefer to date the opposite sex so they can “pass” as straight.

They’re going through a transition on their way to becoming gay.

They’re confused and indecisive.

Here’s the cool part! Two weeks ago, I bought a stack of bi teen novels and read them all from cover to cover. They were universally excellent, deep, and heart-warming.

To read the rest … and for a list of fun, heart-warming, and amazing bi books, please view the original post at GLBT Challenge  2010.

Categories: My Invented Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Five signs of the impending apocalypse

Go check out Roz’s signs of the impending apocalypse, plus five reasons to go on living. It’s on at Shelf Elf. Plus enter for yet another chance to win a copy of my book or a writing journal!

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Win a writing journal!

Someone (I forget who it was!) suggested making writing journals with my cover on them. I loved the idea, and went for it. My Invented Life is a good name for a writing journal, don’t you think?

So Bee is giving the first one away on her awesome Dreamcatcher’s Lair blog! All you have to do is leave a comment on her blog.

Categories: Contests, My Invented Life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I haz book trailer!

A few days ago, and totally out of the blue …

… the very talented Fausto sent me this!!!!

Besides being a videographer, Fausto is writing his own YA novel.

Now Fausto has a new fan. ME!!!

Categories: My Invented Life | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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