Last night I received a disturbing e-mail from someone I know who told me she read one of my books and although she thinks I am a wonderful author, she has a huge problem with the material. Suffice it to say that the rest of the e-mail would have all of you in uproar. It was deeply painful to hear this from someone I trusted.
In 2010 I lost everything I thought was dear to me: All my friends and my home church. I felt their pity as they stared at me, and I felt their disgust as they fled my presence. It took almost 2 years to even start trusting people again. But I did. I opened up. And apparently, I opened up a fraction to the wrong person here.
Said PERSON basically wants me to change what I write. She is very turned off by the sexual content and the love between two men. Well, one thought I had was, “Did you not read the jacket cover?” I am not sure which novel she read, but let us assume she read JOCK. I am almost 100% positive that the blurb tells you Cole falls in love with Ellis. Or implies that. It is about the relationship of two men. As I explained it to my daughter…. If you hated Panda Bears with a passion, would you read a book about Panda Bears? She said NO. Why then would a woman who disagrees with men loving men or women loving women pick up a book that clearly says:
It's easy to become cynical when life never goes your way.
Cole Reid has been a social recluse since he was fifteen, when he was outed by his high school baseball team. Since then, his obsessive-compulsive behavior and sarcastic nature have driven away most of the population, and everyone else hates him because he's gay. As he sees it, he's bound to repulse any prospective friends, let alone boyfriends, so why bother?
By the time Cole enters college, he's become an anal-retentive loner—but it's not a problem until his roommate graduates and the housing department assigns Ellis Montgomery to move in with Cole. Ellis is messy, gorgeous, straight, and worst of all, a "jock"!
During a school year filled with frat buddies, camping expeditions, and meddling parents, Cole and Ellis develop a friendship that turns Cole's glass-half-empty outlook on its head. There must be more to Ellis than a fun-loving jock—and maybe Cole's reawakening libido has rekindled his hope for more than camaraderie.
….Um, “awakened libido” would imply SOMETHING! Wouldn’t it?
Said PERSON wants me to write something SHE would find acceptable. Basically, I get the impression she wants me to write a Christian novel. No sex, and heavy on the religious aspect tailored to specific beliefs of Christianity.
In one way I DO write that. I am a Christian, and I wrote a novel. (Several.) I write my beliefs INTO my characters because it is something that is important to me and I believe other feel the same search in themselves to know and understand God. Some don’t, but some do.
One question that Jodi from Smoocher’s Voice (please visit to read the entire interview) asked was:
· Religion and homophobia play a major role in your books. You specifically focus on intolerance of Christians. Why is this a prevalent theme in your books?
I said: Because of what I personally experienced. If I am NOT gay and went through this kind of hell (hell partially because I lost ALL my friends I had had for 10 years, fyi) , then what the heck kind of crap are the real homosexuals experiencing, because that can’t be nice. So, I explore my thoughts and write about them.
I have always said I write about myself. My experiences. My pain. But INTO gay characters. If I was persecuted (Like MATT DIXON in The Cost of Loving) and I am NOT gay, then the experience for some of you out there who ARE has to be 10x worse, some 100x worse.
I went to bed early because my stomach hurt. My head hurt. It hurts now! But said PERSON basically reinforced WHY I need to write in the first place. People are naïve and some go through life in a church with this idea of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Well, that doesn’t work. There is a quote from my WIP that comes to mind:
“Understand what? Me being gay?” And yes, I just came out. Shit. Where the fuck was Keith?
“Yes. No. I don’t know. My cousin’s gay. I don’t understand him. He likes this other dude, ya know, and I don’t know what to do about it.” Bruce absently touched the side of Keith’s half-full mug. He looked so pathetic I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him.
I said, “You don’t have to do anything. Just be his cousin. Be his friend.” It seemed so logical to me. I guess I should have taken my own advice and just been myself and when someone couldn’t relate I could have told them just to be my friend. Easier said than done.
Bruce looked up. “That’s it?”
“That’s it. He isn’t a different person. You just see him differently. Stop. If you mentally paint labels on people’s foreheads, like ‘homosexual,’ ‘dyke,’ ‘puffster,’ or even a name as innocuous as ‘loser,’ it unconsciously changes your perception. Without even realizing it, you don’t see them as a person any longer, but as a definition. They are who they are. Your cousin is still your cousin.”
He nodded slowly as if considering what I had to say very carefully. “You know, you’re even starting to sound like Keith.”
I smiled. That was the first time I’d ever heard Bruce use a first name as a reference to anyone. “I guess. He’s in the bathroom if you want to talk to him.”
Bruce stood up but lingered by the table. “Nah, that’s okay. Leppo’s too egotistical. He always has to be right.”
This is going to be an amazing book. I think. I hope. I include some very good concepts. But Flynn hits my point here. People can not view people as a “definition” because it takes away their humanity. People cease being people and they become statistics.
And often, people in the church want to “fix” you, or ME. I think she sees me as a project to “fix” because of what I write. Her e-mail brought back all the feelings of fear and paranoia that followed me around for years. I started trusting people again, and here is where it's led me. Square one. Square 1.5. She wants to remain friends. I really don’t think we were before this because she obviously doesn’t know me at all. She doesn’t believe in me. And she certainly doesn’t believe that God is at work in my life.
I DO believe my writing is a gift from God and I want to strive to touch people’s hearts as I have already done, and MORE.
My characters are gay. If you can’t handle that, then DON’T READ MY BOOKS! Also, if you can’t handle getting your heart ripped out sometimes, then don’t read my books. They are all different and unpredictably funny or painful. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
That said, Multitasking Momma wrote a review that I haven’t read yet. I think I need to see what she said. I will link it HERE. When I get it….. Additional. I read it. She made me cry. Thanks J. :)
She also gave NAMES a ribbon. :)
She also gave NAMES a ribbon. :)
Hugs to all my peeps. I am wounded, but not dead.