I WOULD have posted last week for Thanksgiving, but time got away from me. I had a nice day. I did. I made a pie from Brad's recipe and that was fun. (picture here.) My husband smoked a turkey so I had less cooking to do. I made mashed potatoes and stuffing, ham, and gravy, and the other guests (17 in all) brought other things. We had lots of food!
I've been quiet also because of some challenges in my life. Many of you know there have been discussion with the pastor. That is still ongoing, although now more people know stuff and I am not sure how that is going to effect me mentally. Things are being said about me at church, and although I was told "not to say anything yet" because the "facts" are not known, some one said something to my husband on Sunday. Hey, if things are being said to him, then I am saying something HERE. This is MY life after all.
I posted a small note on the "Wade Brigade" because I didn't want to make a BIG DEAL out of it. Last time I posted about the woman at my church, it was followed by hundreds of comments and messages. While that is amazing and encouraging, it was also overwhelming and some comments seemed to be at odds with others and I do not like to cause a fight among my fans and friends. I posted on a small scale so people could think and pray for me. Beth sent me the picture above. Matt sent me the picture below. ME? An inspiration? I guess I don't often see why, but I am flattered and humbled by their thoughts.
I inspire MATT?????? Um, dude, YOU inspire ME. Actually, Sam-I-Am is one of the most amazing people online. I thinkMatt & Brad's blog in general is FULL of inspiration and wisdom. Sam has overcome and worked through so much adversity that he seriously DOES encourage me with his positivity. For people I have never actually met, I do love these boys and look forward to the things they say every week. I don't always read the posts, (I admit, I miss many), but I DO enjoy even the painful posts. They post from their hearts and I appreciate the honesty. This next picture is also stolen from that blog :p
It is a difficult thing not to give into bitterness and cynicism when I strive to be positive and joyful, but things come by that want to steal that joy. When I told my husband some of what has been going on his comment was, "I told you years ago people would not understand and would disagree with you." He also said something about not having dreams and aspirations. My response was "I DO have dreams! I DO have aspirations! I WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD!" But how do I do that?
Well, I don't know. I think it is one step at a time, one book at a time, one concept at a time. What got me in trouble? I wrote SEX along the way. Oh, yeah, I wrote GAY SEX along my journey of "changing the world" and that is poo-pooed upon in my church. I suppose sex is poo-pooed upon in MANY churches so it isn't a shock. The reasoning, I get. I do. I understand where they are coming from and I see their "discipline" as a business decision. The discipline I speak of is being removed from teaching youth. I'm a liability. In the church I went to years ago, I was considered the reason that 3 boys were gay. Me. I turned them gay. Um, yeah…. Sorry, but that is incorrect and an unfounded assumption since none of them knew I wrote any gay material while they were in my youth group. The time frame over lapped and the leadership assumed, which was their way of shifting blame. But that is neither here nor there as it was years ago. I've moved on. Or at least I have tried.
Back to sex…. Why do I chose to write it into my stories? I see it as a literary device. (Note: the church does not.) My stories are all character driven. As the plot unfolds and sex seems necessary to move things along and progress the relationship of the characters, I write sex. Do I need to be so explicit? Um, I guess not. This is a topic of debate in many author groups, actually. Is writing sex necessary? There are people who don't even like explicit sex in stories. I know some authors who actually hate writing it. So why do it? Well, this is the actually debate. Some think the genre calls for it. SO MANY romance novels have sex. Probably most. IDK. Would that change your view if I stopped? If some of your favorite authors stopped? IDK. Why do you read certain stories? Is it for the sex or the story? I would hope that mine are read for the story.
I think my writing is changing over time. When Love Is Not Enough, as well as The Cost Of Loving, had a LOT more sex than recent novels. Why? Matt Dixon was a slutty guy. His random hook-ups drove his life for many years. He doesn't just STOP that behavior without reason and explanation. And Darian? Well, he became a sex-addict to overcome pain. Nick Jones was also a slut and I changed his character over time. He became monogamous as did Matt. Why DO I write these things? For the same reason stories are stronger when the story is shown, not told. I believe in ONE person, not promiscuity. I write MY BELIEFS in my books. I would think most authors do as it is from their mind and heart. I write about myself, my beliefs, and my views. Why? Because I want to change the world!!
I want people to find love and commit to one relationship. I want people to find hope and feel peace. I want the youth, especially, to realize they are not alone in their struggles and not give up in their fight to live and BE themselves. I feel like a sounding gong repeating myself over and over. I've said all this before. I WANT TO BRING HOPE TO THE WORLD.
I think on some level the pastor gets that. It is the GAY SEX in my books that is the issue.
Will I change that? Um, no. I write the stories that come to mind. If these stories for some reason happen in the recesses of my imagination WITHOUT sexual content, then yes, I will. I write stories that are relevant to our times. I write about LIFE as I see it. I write about the pain I see and the real struggles people go through. It is CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE because that is the definition of contemporary. I think the sex is relevant. Relevant because so many out there have experienced these types of pain. I hate to think readers relate because they've been raped, or molested in some fashion, but they do. I am so sorry for that. :( I hate to think that people relate because they know someone who has committed suicide or tried to commit suicide themselves, but it does happen. And perhaps, some relate because they were that guy (I write gay men) who sold themselves into prostitution or had many internet hook-ups, not realizing until later in life that they DID have a choice, and they DID feel empty giving themselves to countless, nameless faces. (OR, maybe you disagree and you are perfectly fine and happy in the type of life you lead.) This is MY blog, however, and I post MY opinions and thoughts. I write about they sexual situations so that YOU can consider them before doing something you may regret.
So, as Matt's picture says, I will try to STAY STRONG in my beliefs and stick to my convictions. I am convicted to write things readers understand and relate to. My target audience (in publisher-speak) is NOT the pastor, nor is it the people in my church. (I don't think.) But who knows? Maybe there are people in my church struggling with their sexuality and how empty they feel in meaningless sex. Well, my advice is STOP. Meaningless sex is not the answer! … And now I am getting all philosophical…. sorry. Just go read my books. :p
I write about current events and controversial things. Bullying, name-calling, suicide, rape, child abuse, meaningless sex, the dangers of unprotected sex, how it feels to be kicked out by your parents (Corey), or hated by your parents over sexuality (Jimmy). Matt deals with the reaction of his church in relation to his sexuality, as does my new character Zach. Zach Mitchell, in fact, deals with LOTS of things!
So yeah, PRAY FOR MY WORDS. I do believe they come from God because they are stories that need to be told. If you disagree with them, or the content, pray my inspiration and content changes. I don't do things quickly. I consider my words carefully. I want the stories to make a strong impact on my readers. I think they have.
I have also said before, if I wanted to write for popularity or riches, they I wouldn't write these stories. I could write cookie-cutter plots they contained LOTS of sex and were relatively fluffy. If I wrote 4-5 of those type a year, I could probably tell my husband to stop working, I've got the bills covered! But no, I don't. I am a poor artist writing what I think is meaningful and relevant to impacting the world for good, not just simple entertainment. I hope my books entertain, but hope they mean more than that.
For the record, in case my church folks are reading and somewhat stalking me online….
1. I do believe in Christ as my savior. Sorry, if you don't see the fruit you wish to see, but I believe my life has changed greatly in the last couple years. My faith has grown tremendously, and it sadness me that you cannot that God is influencing my life decisions.
2. Although I think I agree with 95% of the doctrine at my church, I do think I disagree with that 5%. I am NOT repulsed by homosexuals. I do not recoil from gay sex. Everyone has sex. It is a part of life. Gay men, have gay sex. It is what it is, and I am in no way sickened by it. If you disagree, then don't read it. Or, better yet, pray for my words. If you truly believe in God, then believe He can influence my opinions. Only God knows my heart. Can't you trust God is working in it?
3. I stand for Human Rights. I voted for gay marriage. And I would have had my picture taken by Adam Bouska, but the NOH8 campaign hasn't been in my area for many years. When they are, I WILL!
4. I am proud of my writing. Sex or no sex. I think my words matter. I think I am learning to write more eloquently as time goes on. I believe my next release is the most beautiful story I've written. I'm sorry for those who cannot see the love I have for people, because they stumble over the sexual content in my books. They sexual content IS changing. It is. But mainly because the stories demand certain literary expressions. Sex is a literary device of human experience.
5. I write about myself. Although that may be difficult to see or believe, I do. These are MY THOUGHTS and experiences presented in fictional characters and situations. Gay or straight, people all experience pain and laughter in life. I write it.
6. I am seeing that this is a small part of being a public figure. Persecution and moral disagreements will happen because we are all wired with different beliefs and ideals. Just as readers will be angry and post some horrible reviews, so will people in my personal life. If this is the way it will be, then I will take the ridicule. As my new tattoo reminds me, I trust "in Christ alone." Yes, religious as it may be to some, I have come to understand that only God does not change. People disappoint, but in my opinion, God does not. And I have been given FREEDOM in Christ to live out my faith by the grace He has given me. As an author, I am in the public eye often. I hope to live up to being a gracious and loving person to all. I need to work there because I am NOT loving to all. I am cynical and bitter often. I pray that God will shape my heart to let go of the bitterness.
7. I am learning to let go of FEAR. There is very little to fear anymore. I feared people "finding out" and judging me over my writing. Well, here it is. And yes, they are judging me. My writing juxtaposes the life they see me living. Hmmm. Maybe it is because I "feared" too long and for many years lived a double life like Jimmy Miller. My life is almost one complete whole now, and the fear is slipping away because I am all exposed.
I think this reinforces what I have often pondered in blog posts about relating and empathizing with my readers. Especially they gay ones. Lucien told me that I possibly understand now what it feels like to "come out" because of the way I am being and have been treated. I cannot imagine the fear and pain of coming out, but if this is close, then I just want to hug all of you who have. It is not easy AT ALL to live open in who you are. I am not gay, and yet I am judged so quickly and easily. How much more pressure and harshness do you face every day? I respect your ability to STAY STRONG. Matt… I salute you. Sam, I adore you. Your words bring meaning to my life.
I write what I think the world needs to hear. I will not back down, because without my voice, and my HURRICANE rushing in, would the dark places of world be too quiet? (reference to my husband calling me a hurricane.) I believe I have been created for a purpose. I believe writing is my gift from God. I didn't train for it. I didn't do well in school in English. I was a math major. Writing just happened one day. In 2006.
Join me in my journey. It is an interesting adventure for sure.
My next book comes out in 4 weeks and 3 days. It is a mini history lesson about my town. as well as the struggles in life of three friends. Each with their own piece of the puzzle to tell. I hope you like it. It is LONG. I could have cut it into 2 stories, but then readers don't like cliff-hangers so I decided on ONE whole story in ONE novel. A long novel! I'll keep you posted as things in my life happen. I'm sorry for long silences. I forget sometimes that I have people out there who do care about me and miss my posts.
Hugs to you all.
My newest tattoos:
Freedom is in my daughter's handwriting. :)