Featured

About Me: Bag Lady, Bleeding Heart

By the age of 7, I wrote everyday. I could create my own world. I was safe. I felt invested in my characters. They were family. 

I was told that I would grow up and be a bag lady for a multitude of reasons, including my fashion sense, my bleeding-pinko heart, and my hypersensitivity which rendered me an insomniac by the age of five. There’s a lot to worry about, especially in this day and age.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, I worried about the impoverished, about the war-torn, oppressed people at home and across the globe, about nuclear war, death, dolphins, whales, the poor Native Americans whose lands and cultures were being obliterated, and more. I wore the original, Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute T-Shirt and as a latch-key kid, spent my afternoons picking up trash. Basically, I worried about the same things I worry about today.

By the age of 7, I wrote everyday. I could create my own world. I was safe. I felt invested in my characters. They were family. 
Continue reading “About Me: Bag Lady, Bleeding Heart”

Independent Bookstores: THANK YOU!

Independent Bookstores offer something online sellers can’t provide: booksellers who read and care about books, who get to know their customers, who know what books to recommend to specific readers, a place to commune and listen to story time or spend an evening listening to authors read and speak, a place to discuss books. A place to turn your cell phone off and breathe.

Book Exchange, San Francisco

I went to San Francisco this summer and saw Susan Rivers’ novel, The Second Mrs. Hockaday listed as a Staff Pick at Book Passage in the Ferry Building. I’d just had the pleasure of meeting Susan at The Greensboro Bound literary festival. My family and I were walking around the wharf, waiting to take the ferry to Alcatraz when I found this incredible bookstore. I get so excited when I’m in a beautiful bookstore, filled with hand-written staff recommendations, surrounded by the brightly colored spines, and then I see books by authors I know.

Downtown Books in Manteo

Independent bookstores are an author’s best friend. This year, the owner and book buyer for my local bookstore Downtown Books in Manteo, Jamie Hope Anderson, championed my third novel, Lost in the Beehive, and when I say, “championed,” I mean she went out of her way to promote it. We threw a book launch where she made a signature cocktail with our local rum distillery, Kill Devil Rum’s honey pecan rum. She ran ads in local papers and radio. We got together and brainstormed ideas. She wrote letters to her friends at other independent bookstores and mailed out copies. She also carried copies and handed them out at SIBA, the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Alliance tradeshow. She’s told everyone that Beehive was the book to buy, and then O Magazine agreed with her, listing it as one of their top ten books in their May issue.

Last year, right after Lost in the Beehive, came out I visited Quail Ridge Books for the second time. I seriously want to have a sleepover. Their bookstore is so vast, beautiful, and comfortable, it’s like Heaven to me. Recently, my son and I were in Raleigh for a tennis tournament, and at the top of my to-do list was to show him Quail Ridge.

Independent Bookstores offer something online sellers can’t provide: booksellers who read and care about books, who get to know their customers, who know what books to recommend to specific readers, a place to commune and listen to story time or spend an evening listening to authors read and speak, a place to discuss books. A place to turn your cell phone off and breathe.

These are a few of my favorite Indies!

Downtown Books, Manteo, NC

Ducks Cottage Books, Duck, NC

Picking Apples, Carter’s Mountain, VA

Island Bookstore, Kill Devil Hills, Duck, and Corolla, NC

Chop Suey Books, Richmond, VA

Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

New Dominion Bookshop, Charlottesville, VA

Chapters Bookshop, Galax, VA

Scuppernong Booksin Greensboro, NC

Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

Fly Leaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

Regulator Bookshop, Durham, NC

Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

Outside New Dominion Bookshop, Charlottesville, VA

Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe, Asheville, NC

Aaron’s Books, Lititz, PA

Bards Alley, Vienna, VA

Word Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY

Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Market Street Bookshop, Mashpee, MA

Yellow Umbrella Books, Chatham, MA

Book Passage, San Francisco, CA

Sexuality

This year, I told my 13 year-old son that I was bisexual. He said, “Can you please not say these things to me? You’re married to Dad.”

Yes, I am married to his father, and very much in love, but I’m also attracted to other people, and not just men. I’m in a committed monogamous relationship, but his father and I both have our get-out-of-jail-free fantasy cards. Mine is still Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt or both. I’m equally attracted to Scarlet Johansson. The love of my life is my best friend from high school, and that love runs far deeper than sexual attraction. It’s all-encompassing.

Sexual attraction doesn’t define who we are. It’s merely a part of who we are. After I wrote Lost in the Beehive, about Gloria Ricci, who is sent to an institution for being in love with another girl, I got a multitude of reactions. Some people saw me with my two other books and wanted to read anything but a book about a lesbian. Other people shared their personal stories of their children and grandchildren being open about their sexuality. Some readers had experienced gay-conversion therapy firsthand.

Throughout the many appearances and visits with book clubs, I was often asked, “Why did you write about this?” I had and have a hundred reasons: a boy I met who was living in denial and fear, the pain of loved ones I’d known, the rate of suicide amongst the LGBTQ community, but when I really got down to it, stewed it over, I realized that in the beginning  it was because throughout my life, I’ve fallen in love with three women, mad passionate loves, one in particular, and when I first started Lost in the Beehive, that’s exactly what it was about, that first great love, that “We’ll always be together” love, the kind of love Gloria and Sheffield shared, and then the whole book became a story about their great love and all the other impossible, doomed loves in the world.

God, I love Sheffield Schoeffler.

Excerpt from Lost in the Beehive, a 2018 O Magazine Top Ten Book Pick

And some part of me believed him. Maybe I’d heard him tell me too many times that I was to blame, or maybe it was easier to believe him than fight back. And there were no bruises, not on the outside, and I was too embarrassed to tell anyone.

One afternoon, I went to the shed for a trowel. The honey bees trailed, flying through the doorway, swarming the ceiling. I grabbed the gardening gloves and looked up. More came. And more. There were thousands of them. “Is Sheff with you?” I asked, expecting an answer, as odd as that sounds. I watched and waited. They gathered in a T-shaped mass that framed the rafters, and I got down on my knees. Then, down on my back, the gardening gloves still in hand. I waited for them to say something. Rather, they came together, a gold-and-amber disco ball, bees zipping out from the spinning center, then descending, not falling, but aiming, a thousand bullets, on my skin. They were going to kill me, maybe finish what they started when I was seven, but then I felt their tiny fuzzy legs on my skin. My limbs vibrating with theirs. I slipped off my sneakers as the bees crowded onto my face and neck. I was not afraid. We hummed together. Their legs sticky on my eyelids. Ascending. Defying gravity. They felt like salvation. The sound had walls, tissue thin, and deep inside the cell, I saw Sheff shooting his arm into the air, a rocket, the bees flying out. We had our whole lives ahead of us. He straddled my red suitcase at the New York Public library. I shot my arm into the air. Then, saw that it was golden with bees. I heard a man’s voice, Jacob calling my name. The bees rose like sunlit dust. Continue reading “Excerpt from Lost in the Beehive, a 2018 O Magazine Top Ten Book Pick”