Interview (the Last Step)

Kate​ is in Scotland with her family on holiday but has received word that her interview with the US consulate in London is scheduled for September 3rd.

This is the last hurdle in our application for a fiancée visa for her to come to the US so we can marry. This is where they talk with her to verify our intentions and that we’re honest, really a couple, and won’t be a burden on anyone. The forums she’s been reading up on say they pretty much know if they’re granting approval or not by the time the interview rolls around, and that approval comes swiftly, if not the day of the interview, then within the week. For us specifically, they’ve requested no further documentation, and they’ve not had further questions on existing documentation. We have no reason to think there’ll be a negative decision.

This is it, folks. Now, I’m pretty sure Kate’s going to knock this out of the park, even if she’s nervous (she handles this stuff like a champ). I’m the one that’s a fucking basket case (mainly because all of this is out of my hands and I can only sit here and watch). There’s so much riding on this, not the least of which is our future together, and lemme tell you, this is where I would usually curse my jump-in-with-both-feet attitude.

When I first told Kate I had bigger feelings for her almost three years ago, she thought I was a guy (long story for the new peeps, and those who’ve been around awhile, you know already), there was a damned ocean separating us, same-sex marriage was not federally recognized with DOMA still in place, and most states did not recognize ssm. I think 8 states had equal marriage laws. In the last three years, it seems the obstacles in our path have simply gotten out of our way, with DOMA falling in June 2013, then the state I live in passing marriage equality in late 2013, and finally, SCOTUS declaring it this year in all states. I know at the heart of it all are couples who fought for all of us to be able to love equally, and I am forever grateful to them. My point is that so much was against us from the beginning, and now, we’re 24 days away from the last step. One more thing, and then that ocean can stop being between us.

I can’t find it in myself to curse my leap-without-looking mentality about this. After having toed the line for the first basically 30 years of my life, I refuse to do anything but live out loud, love as hard as I can, and go after the life I want to have. I’m fucking beside myself with the shakes, because I need her like air, and this is it. We have no reason to doubt the visa will be approved, but this is that moment. The one where the music crescendoes and the characters, who’ve been moving around the game board to get into position, do their thing to get their moment of victory. Yeah, that sounds hyperbolic, but in this case it’s not.

A yes means she comes back with me when I fly home from the UK Meet next month. A yes means we get married in October, before the paperwork has time to expire. A yes means I never have to say goodbye to her in an airport again with the stretch of months and an ocean to conquer before we are together again.

Yes means our Happily Ever After.

In 24 days.

Advertisements

Rant: Marginalization for Profit

Some of you, but not all, know I’m engaged to Kate Aaron, and because she’s English and I’m American, we have to go through the immigration process. I haven’t posted on it much because frankly, it’s a lot of handwringing, asking why the hell the government needs to know that, and a hell of a lot of loneliness. I don’t want to be a drag, so I don’t talk about it much. However, we’re nearing the end of all the requirements, and only one step remains: Kate’s interview at the US Consulate in London sometime in the coming weeks. Just thinking about it makes my heart pound in anticipation.

One of the discussions we’ve had centers around the question of the best place for her to fly in to the country once her visa is approved (because I cannot allow myself to think of what would happen if we get denied). Despite the possibility that Atlanta may have more flight options, that Delta, whose largest hub and HQ is located at Hartsfield-Jackson International in ATL,  is a better airline than American for those long hauls over the ocean in terms of comfort, and that the cost of the ticket might be cheaper, we’ve decided it would be best for Kate to fly in through Chicago, which likely means American Airlines. Why?

Because marriage equality wasn’t legal in Georgia until SCOTUS ruled it’s legal in all 50 states last month. And because even with a federally recognized marriage visa approval in her hands, she might not have made it through Atlanta’s customs checkpoint with such paperwork. Georgians didn’t have to recognize same sex marriages or any related paperwork.

Now? It doesn’t matter what airport she comes through with her approved marriage visa to make an honest woman out of me.

For obvious reasons, this elates me. But are our equality struggles over? Far from it. There’ve been a slew of articles discussing how we can’t let our momentum slow on helping keep LGBT students from getting bullied, how while the EEOC recently ruled sexual orientation is already a protected class in their handbook, it’s not federally mandated that LGBT people cannot be fired in all states for our orientation. There’s still a MASSIVE homeless problem for LGBT youth. We are nowhere near done with the equality fight.

So when I saw a couple discussions in the last few days from m/m authors asking if sales were likely to suffer (or already have been) because marriage equality renders the coming out rejection angst less of a struggle for gay people, and therefore less of interest to readers who might think such a plot line is now passé, I saw red.

(Warning: stop here if you aren’t ready for a rant of epic proportions, because I’m not going to censor myself this time.)

M/M has exploded in the last few years, going from 50 or so authors to hundreds, going from hundreds or thousands of readers to tens of thousands. (I can’t speak for F/F because I know nothing about that market, but if the acceptance of same sex relationships has a foothold in the growth of readership, it’s not a stretch to assume F/F is comparable.) We’re helping people see the struggles, and yes, one of the biggest in m/m fiction is coming out. To family, friends, coworkers, etc….

I’ve seen so many memes stating how people can’t wait until it’s not gay marriage, it’s just marriage. That there’ll be no need to come out anymore because a guy can casually mention his boyfriend or husband without people falling all over themselves to scream that he’s no longer human, the fucking sodomite! That the girl growing up thinking her fellow teammate on her softball team is hot and that maybe she’ll ask her to the homecoming dance won’t be so worried about getting beat up for doing so.

Will these idealistic ideas ever fully happen? Probably not in total. There will always be people who think two men together is upsetting. Or parents who don’t want their daughter doing more with a girl than being friends. Fine, as long as they’re not allowed to tell those individuals they can’t be with who they love in every way they want to be, including marriage, adoption or other ways to achieve parenthood, when both are in the end stages of life and in need of medical care that accepts their relationship, and finally, death benefits.

The whole point has been to end the marginalization.

So for someone to theorize the lack of marginalization makes LGBT characters no longer interesting, and worse, hits the writer personally in the pocketbook, strips us of our humanity once again. As if our only purpose is to come out in a fiery argument of bible verses and tears (and maybe some physical blows) so the readership can pop their popcorn and watch the trainwreck unfold.

 

So suppressing my rights as a human being if it jeopardizes your plot line wherein you make money off telling a facet of my story is okay? I don’t fucking think so. We need allies who are happy for us right now. Be glad future generations will be more likely to think same sex couples are no big deal when they see us on the street holding hands. Or when Kate gets here and I rush her at the airport to lay a kiss on her lips when I’ve spent the last six months without her, we won’t get scoffed at or called dykes. Be proud that the stories we all tell about LGBT struggles have possibly done good to make those struggles a little less necessary.

Don’t be sad your bank account is emptier because we are now more free.

As long as human beings have strong feelings both for and against each other, there are plenty of plot lines to explore. I’m an angst hoor, so I am a huge fan of plot lines involving inner turmoil, sexual tension, and pining for an unrequited/broken love. I know plot lines exist besides coming out, that LGBT people can be characters in books without the main premise being that they’re gay, and those books are still interesting. LGBT people aren’t one dimensional, and our only struggle isn’t our orientation. We have hidden depths, like bills to pay, and favorite foods and TV shows, and things everyone worries about, like the safety of our loved ones and the direction our careers take. Yes, we’re LGBT, but we’re human first.

Explore plots without relying on coming out rejection angst rather than lament the coming out plots are dying. But don’t you dare say it’s bad that we’re becoming more equal if it makes your bottom line suffer, because all I hear when you say that is my oppression is okay to you as long as you’re making money off my struggles. If you’re not creative enough to come up with something more to write about and move with the times, then shut down your computer and go find a different job. Society is evolving for the better, so either get on the train or get left behind. But don’t you dare say such evolution should slow down or stop so you don’t get stuck on the train platform with your head stuck up your ass.

Crazy Busy Life and An Excerpt

This place got quiet. *blows dust off* I know, I know, but I’ll tell you why. I couldn’t talk about my plans over the holidays because one of them, the biggest one, was a secret.

See, Kate’s family wanted to surprise her for her 30th birthday. So they talked to me without Kate knowing, and behind the scenes, we arranged a trip for me to visit. So after I spent a week plus with my parents over Christmas and New Year’s, I came home for two days, did a flurry of errands, and jumped on another plane to the motherland.

About a day later, after long layovers, and time changes and such, I followed her sister into her house and gave her stunned face a kiss. Even two days later, she still looked at me and crowed, “You’re here!”

Her parents rented us a flat near one of her good friends, and we spent the week eating out, having wicked cool drinks, playing in London, going to the clubs of our people, starting new books, and making business deals.

Yeah, we never stop working, even when we’ve had a few drinks and the bouncer of a club starts talking to us about his true work, which lo and behold, I might have a very specific use for. When that’s a little more fleshed out, I’ll spill those beans.

In the meantime, yes, Kate and I started a book on which we’ve been plotting for a little over six months now, and let me tell you, the conversation about it had us both excited and possibly freaking out a cab driver.

As a reward for your patience, I give you a scene flash from my next release, hopefully out sometime in March, titled Anatomy of Perception. This is first person from the MC’s point of view, a scene flash when Dane sees Craig for the first time. Hope you like.

————

I didn’t stop to watch the hot street artist because I thought he would change my life. I was simply fascinated by his quick hands, his obvious skill, and the swell of his ass. He had a really nice one, in paint-splattered jeans that hugged him well, and a t-shirt with a pug on it. The fall air was warm enough to not need a jacket, and when I wasn’t staring at his delectable backside, I strangely found myself drawn to his forearms. They flexed with each fluid movement of his brush hand while he quickly painted a profile portrait of a woman who stood closer to him than the rest of the crowd. She watched him work, and every few seconds, exclaimed at how wonderful he was.

I agree, I thought, taking another long look at his ass, for once not caring who saw me looking. That was the beautiful thing about New York City: no one noticed me, so they didn’t have a reason to give a damn if I liked guys. I could easily hide in plain sight, checking guys out to my heart’s content—with some care. If the guy being checked out noticed and was a dick, I could get my ass kicked. But in the four years since leaving home, I’d perfected the discreet eye-fuck. Less risky that way.

I had to keep moving, though. I was going to be late for class. I’d worked way too hard to get where I was to chance being late, and failure was not an option. I couldn’t go back home. I wasn’t teacher material, and I didn’t bother to look into what else my biology degree might allow me to do. It was MD or nothing.

Apparently, my feet didn’t get the memo. I stood there as the artist finished, signing the painting with a flourish as a smattering of applause rippled through the crowd. The woman eagerly paid and took her portrait with her, staring at it as she walked and forcing other sidewalk patrons out of her path. A few bills landed in an open, battered portfolio case at the foot of the guy’s easel, and I found myself wishing I had even a dollar to spare. But I didn’t. I watched my pennies religiously. There was no way I’d let myself be too broke to pay my third of the rent.

The artist scanned the dispersing crowd for his next mark, and I quickly looked away when his eyes landed on me. I really had to go anyway. I moved, trying to escape.

“Hey, hold up.”

A hand on my elbow slowed me and I turned to face the warmest brown eyes I’d ever seen.

“Let me paint you.”

I shook my head. “I can’t. I have class and I’m already late.” At least it was true. Lack of money wasn’t my only excuse.

“If you’re already late, you should skip and let me paint you. I didn’t know eyes that color existed outside a computer. Are those contacts?”

I rolled the eyes in question, but something about his ease while talking to strangers kept me from walking off. I got compliments on my eyes all the time. They were such a light blue they were almost silver. Many a girl had used my eye color as a platform for flirting, not realizing I was and always would be immune to their feminine charms. But the guy before me, he was right up my alley. So, while I rolled my eyes at his obvious line, I also smiled regretfully.

“I’m sorry. I really can’t. Maybe I’ll see you around though.”

“Me or my ass?” he asked, dropping his volume and giving me a wink. So he’d seen me checking out the goods.

Heat surged into my cheeks, but instead of stammering and running away, I gave him a very obvious and thorough once-over.

“Both.” It was the best parting line I’d ever had, so I took advantage, chuckling as I walked away.

“Wait!” he called. “What’s your name? How do I find you again?”

I waved over my shoulder, mortification creeping in. Had I really flirted so openly with a guy I wasn’t positive was also gay? In public? Jesus. I had never done that before. I only ever involved with guys at gay clubs who wouldn’t be there for any other reason.

“Please?” he yelled after me. I ignored him as I descended into the bowels of the subway system. Nice ass or not, at that point, I hoped I’d never see him again. How could I have been so dumb?

Safely on the train speeding me the last several blocks to my class, I allowed myself a grin, which was swallowed by a grimace. Random art wasn’t the only thing I couldn’t afford. Calling attention to myself was another. Distractions could also cost me way more than money. I needed to keep my focus on my goal, not get sidetracked by tanned forearms and dimples beneath molten brown eyes. I tried to put him out of my head and think about the lymph system, recalling the salient points of my reading homework from the night before. I had thought that would be my one and only encounter with the hot, charming street artist.

I was wrong.

Quick Update and a Tease

The holidays are a busy time of the year for everyone, so this will be fast (I hope. I’m a wordy mothahfuckah). The voting has begun over on the M/M Romance Group Member’s Choice Awards on GoodReads. If you haven’t gotten a chance, here’s the linkFrom what I understand, you have to have been a member before November this year to be able to vote in the polls. Lots and lots of good authors and books in those lists. It’s very, very difficult to pick.

So, there’s some travel coming up for me, and I predict being pretty scarce (though I will try not to be). I’m working hard at the moment, though life seems to be getting me in the teeth lately. The paperwork to bring Kate to my side permanently hit a snafu (because people keep mistaking me for an adult, which duh, no) and I am seriously missing her, especially through the holidays. Forget the car trouble, the medical bills, the fucking up my back (again! JEEZ) and Amazon paying royalties late (first time in the three years I’ve been doing this, and their timing couldn’t have sucked more). That is just annoying. Her absence is what hurts late at night, when the house is dark, the glow of other people’s Christmas lights slat through the blinds in painfully cheerful blinking patterns, and the only heartbeat I hear is mine. If I’m cold, I have furbabies to snuggle with, but they have paws that have sharp things on the end. They’re not Kate’s soft embrace, or her warmth, and while I’m an open kind of girl, Kate doesn’t tend to lick me on the face. Furbabies aren’t the same.

I have also been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, on top of the asthma, and wow, this year can go fuck itself gently with a chainsaw. I know a couple other people whose hands would fly into the air if I asked who else thinks 2014 can suck a live wire. So if you’re having a difficult time of things? You’re not alone. But hang in there. There is good out there. Like this:

I promised to donate a portion of sales of my last release, Consent, to Lost n Found Youth in Atlanta, GA, a shelter and homeless youth center for LGBT kids, and because of the generosity and awesomeness of my readers, we’re getting close to $1,500 on that check. I’m extending the period of sales for the donation tally until December 10th to coincide with a giveaway that will run beginning December 4th for a week. Keep an eye out for the link on Thursday.

To thank you all for your general awesomeness and to say happy holidays, I’m giving you an early Christmas gift, albeit a rough draft of one. Someone in Ben and Gavin’s world has been whispering in my ear, and while this is not another Power Exchange book, I’ve begun a story in which Ben and Gavin play a part, albeit a small one. You all remember McKnight, right? The pimp from Consent?

McKnight needed his own book.

Merry Christmas!

Continue reading

This ‘n That

So the last couple weeks, I’ve considered and discarded several blog post ideas because there wasn’t much to them. But I went and built this spiffy new place, so I need to keep up with it. That means, you get a mishmash of mostly random shit. Lucky you!

My ADD. Let me show you it.

First, I’ve been on a K.A. Mitchell reading kick. One of her books, Life, Over Easy, felt as though it was written just for me. She has a descriptive writing style, and quite a backlist, so I’m a happy reader lately.

I will, however, be setting aside most reading for the next few days to do another #MonsterWritingWeekend. If I’m to maintain my schedule, Power Exchange 3 (tentatively titled Consent) needs to  be finished mid-July and I’m only about half done. I have also agreed to beta for a fellow author (and I’m trying really hard not to gloat at what I have in my hot little hands) and then I have some other items to handle to prep PE3. I mean, it needs a cover, right? And not just any cover will do.

What I didn’t expect was a bout of flu. Who gets the flu in the summer? Apparently I’m an overachiever when it comes to reasons to nap. The resulting time off work, however, fucked up my vacation plans in October to go back to England to see Trouble. The good news is, Trouble will be here in eleven short days, and is staying for three months. I’ve only explained Trouble on Facebook, so a quick rundown is this: I met someone in England. We spent the entire week together when I was there in April. We talk every day and Skype when we can, though the time difference doesn’t help much. A few weeks ago, he worked some stuff out on the other side of the pond to be able to stay with me for three months. I won’t really be going into a lot of detail about our relationship because neither of us is comfortable letting it all hang out. I learned the hard way, and Trouble doesn’t want to be in my spotlight. But a mention here and there isn’t out of the comfort zone.

This weekend, I’ll be doing another #MonsterWritingWeekend, updates on Facebook. Hopefully this will put PE3 close to completion. Then editing, beta, and more editing, and I can get it out the door. These #MWW have been a huge boost for me. When I wrote nearly thirty thousand words in three days, I realized I could do so much more than just a scene at a time. The end result isn’t as important to me at the end of the weekend, even if I thrive on the competition with Kate Aaron (my most consistent partner in crime). What is important is knowing I pushed myself, I didn’t settle for good enough and if I’m honest, the creation of new scenes gets my blood pumping. So I’ll keep doing it, and even if I never reach the stupid high word counts I set for myself (this weekend’s is 20K), I’m still doing more than I ever though I was capable.

God, I love this job!