Keep an Open Mind

Being in the minority, and on the negative end of stereotypes, does not make you immune to believing in them, and perpetuating them.

It’s kind of old news, the first openly gay Miss America contestant and winner of the 2016 Miss Missouri title, Erin O’Flaherty, is a feminine lesbian. In a Cosmopolitan interview, she said that she struggled to wrap her head around the fact that she was a lesbian because she wasn’t a stereotypical lesbian.

I identified with Erin because growing up I too was feminine and struggled with my identity, and even though my struggle had nothing to do with the fact that I was feminine, those stereotypes still had a negative impact on me.

As a kid, a teenager, and young adult, I was a socially awkward introvert, and in the closet. It was hard for me to reach out and find other lesbians. Girls that I thought were gay, and girls who I knew for sure were gay, wouldn’t give me the time of day. I would try to cozy up to them and they would dismiss me. It was like I was wearing some kind of lesbian repellent.

One thing I was sure about, the repellent had nothing to do with my looks. I know it sounds stuck up, and the truth is I know I am not super-hot but when I get dolled-up guys pay attention (not all guys but some of them) so it stands to reason that some lesbians would find me attractive too. It had nothing to do with my looks, at the same time, I was sure that it was my looks, and my hobbies that made lesbians dismiss me.

It comes down to stereotypes. The LGBTQ community is not immune to buying into them.

What do you think it means to be lesbian or gay?

All it means is that you are attracted to the same sex; it has nothing to do with what you look like, or what your hobbies are.

  • You don’t have to play sports or love camping to be a lesbian.
  • You don’t have to love musicals and have a great sense of fashion to be gay.

We should all remember that.

Coyne, Amanda. “Meet Erin O’Flaherty, the First Openly Gay Beauty Queen to Compete at Miss America: O’Flaherty is the newly crowned Miss Missouri.” Cosmopolitan. Hearst Communications. 23 June 2016 Web. 21 June 2017 Accessed. http://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/celebs/news/a60394/erin-oflaherty-miss-missouri-lesbian-miss-america-interview/


LGBTQ Publishing

Publisher’s Weekly posted a Call for Information on LGBTQ Publishing for their May 29th issue.

The deadline for submissions is April 11th.

I’ve copied the call here. Their website information follows.

For this feature, we’d like to hear from people who can discuss bookstore and library activism around LGBTQ issues, as well as the state of bookstores and libraries as sanctuaries for LGBTQ people. We’d also like to hear about forthcoming adult and children’s titles, fiction and nonfiction, with LGBTQ themes. Pub. dates: June–December 2017. New titles only, please; no reprints. Please email pitches and links to artwork to features@publishersweekly.com by April 11 and put “Call for Info: LGBTQ Publishing” in the subject line.

Calls for Information.” Publisher’s Weekly. http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/calls-for-information/index.html?record=301. Accessed on 30 Mar. 2017.


Read Your Work Out Loud

I have always been shy about sharing my work. Mostly it’s a lack of confidence that keeps my work sequestered for my eyes only. There is no ignorance is bliss syndrome happening here.

The ignorance is bliss syndrome causes writers to believe that their story is fantastic. Which results in them submitting what is barely more than a rough draft to agent after agent, all the while hounding their friends to read their story and tell them what they really think, when all they really want are compliments.

On one end of the spectrum are the ignorance is bliss writers. I’m all the way on the other end. So until very recently I had never read my work out loud. Then one day I did.

What I discovered was that by reading my work out loud I could hear mistakes that I could not catch by silently reading it. Impressed with the discovery I wanted to understand the why and so I did a quick search and came across a post by UNC-Chapel Hill.

I have included a link to the UNC-Chapel Hill post below but here is the essence:

When you silently read your own work your mind is more likely to fill in the blanks and make seamless transitions and connections between what you’re reading and another part of the story. On the other hand, when you hear your story read (by reading it yourself or hearing someone else read it), and when the reader is careful to read each word at a moderate pace, your brain has a harder time filling in the blanks and making seamlessly transitions. So you hear that something doesn’t make sense, that a word was missed, that you need a transition, or that the way a sentence is worded just doesn’t flow.

Bottom line: Reading your work out loud can help you improve your writing.

Reading Aloud.” The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/reading-aloud/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.



Piggy backing on the last post is the concept of habits. Much like Pavlov’s Dogs, I believe that humans can be conditioned to salivate too. Only in this case the salivating takes the form of your mind opening up with creativity and being ready to write. This goes back to my post on writing schedules and the idea that routine ignites creativity.

One of my problems is that I need help forming the habit of writing. You see, when I have time to write I don’t feel like it, and when I’m obligated to do something else all I want to do is write.

So I unleashed one of my superpowers to tackle the problem, I thought about it. I figured what I needed was a calendar where I can mark the days that I write and track my progress. As it turns out there are a lot of goal and habit tracking apps out there: Nozbe, Goals on Track, Strides, and irunurun are just a few. The other thing I thought would help me is rewards.

As the first quarter of 2017 comes to a close I’m still no closer to accomplishing my goal of rewriting the novel I started a couple of years ago but I’m going to do what all people who eventually succeed do, I’m going to renew my efforts. I’m going to focus on the habit of writing and reward my self for meeting weekly, monthly, and quarterly writing goals.



How to Tackle a Big Goal

Big goals, (i.e., writing a best-selling novel) can be overwhelming. How do you get from the blank page, to a finished novel, to being a best-selling novelist? The dream is real but the journey seems daunting.

I came across an article that said, the problem with big goals is that we tend to focus on the destination instead of the journey.

Stulberg, Brad. “Big Goals Can Backfire. Olympians Show Us What to Focus on Instead.” Science of Us, NYMag.com, 3 Aug. 2016, http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/08/why-having-big-goals-can-backfire.html. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

It introduced me to two concepts: Obsessive Passion and Harmonious Passion. Obsessive passion is when you’re motivated by the external recognition that achieving a goal might bring. Harmonious passion is when you embrace the work involved in achieving a goal.

To achieve a big goal you have to have harmonious passion.

Goal setting can serve as an effective steering mechanism, a north star to shoot for. But after you set a goal, it’s best to shift your focus from the goal itself to the process that gives you the best chance of achieving it; and to judge yourself based on how well you execute that process.




99 Designs

In 2015 I ran a contest on 99 Designs for cover art for the New Adult Lesbian romance I was working on. I was in the process of writing the first draft so I didn’t need the artwork but commissioning it motivated me to stick to my writing schedule.

I really liked using 99 Designs. They make it easy to commission artwork.





Writing is not for perfectionists, and perfectionists I think probably drive themselves crazy being novelists. …Writing is provisional in almost every way. Which is to say, any sentence that you write and finally make as good as you can make it, and part with, and publish, if you’d stayed with it a little bit longer, you might could make it a little bit better… You just have to get reconciled to that.

Just as you have to get reconciled to things like this: At the end of a given day you stop writing, and you think to yourself, okay, I’m stopping today; I’m gonna go do something else. If you sat there and you wrote a sentence that hour, 3 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, you would inevitably have written a different sentence than the sentence that you write at 8 o’clock the next morning. That could be completely crazy making but it isn’t, you just have to get used to it…

Richard Ford

“Richard Ford Talks about Writing and His Novel Canada.” Politics and Prose Bookstore Coffeehouse. 23 May 2012. Web. 14 Jun. 2012. http://www.politics-prose.com

It Will Never be Perfect