Yesterday I wrote a post on the “Love Bytes” blog about research and tracking down the facts, and not tracking down the facts.
What a great weekend at Twin Cities Pride in Minneapolis. After Orlando, Pride seemed more important this year, somber in remembrance, and also deliberately joyful in a refusal to be suppressed. It felt important to be seen, to be proud, to celebrate and laugh and cheer as well as mourn. To show that no death, not one, not forty-nine, can erase or suppress the move to equality. There were 132 groups marching in the parade, from churches to schools, from businesses to organizations like the ACLU, theaters, leather guys, the Minneapolis and St. Paul police… And all kinds of booths at the park, with art and music and food and clothing and toys and flags and support groups and more. And so many different people, (and dogs and even a cat in a stoller.) Rainbows, and trans flags, and bi pride and Ace T-shirts, and Pulse shirts and even tattoos, and community.
Pride this year also really seemed to be about a joyful acceptance and openness about gender as well as orientation. Lots of trans and fluid and non-conforming and agender folk participating, lots of trans flag blue/pink/white merchandise alongside the rainbows. I put out free trans-support pins with #IllGoWithYou – 250 of them and they were all gone by 2 pm on Sunday, and almost everyone who took a pin stopped to put it on, before walking away.❤ As awful as the anti-trans legislations are, as sad and dangerous and depressing and unfair, they are also, I believe, increasing activism, visibility, and turning passive trans supporters more vocal and active.
A group of us got together as the “Midwest Gay-Romance Authors” to promote the genre and sell books. I didn’t expect much, but it went great. Original forecasts called for “dangerous thunderstorms, severe winds and damaging hail” on Saturday, and we were braced for the worst. It was windy enough for us to end up strapping down all the paper swag, (and tying down the 3-foot-tall bookcase that almost killed Posy Roberts, as it tipped toward where she was sitting, despite sandbag weights) but that was all that happened. Some lighting in the distance, a lot of heat (95 degrees F) but compared to the forecast it was wonderful. And Sunday was lovely for the Parade, with a breeze.
I came home hot and tired and happy. (And we actually sold some books.) It was wonderful to meet so many people, including online friends. I hope we get to do it again next year. Thanks to my fellow authors Posy Roberts, Edmond Manning, J R Jen Barten, Rory Ni Coileain, Jessa Ryan, Nicole Forcine, Penny Wilder, Denise Shirley Carter, Kathie, Katie, plus some of their friends and family, and everyone who stopped by, who made our booth a success.
I’m delighted to say that the print, hold-it-in-your-hands version of the first book Tracefinder: Contact is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other paper book retailers. I can’t wait to get my author copies and actually have that cover in print, and to be able to include it at my table at Minneapolis Pride next weekend.
The edits for book 2, Tracefinder: Changes, are going well. I hope to have a release date to announce soon.
Paper copies on sale at
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tracefinder-kaje-harper/1123248309?ean=9781786450685
I’m really excited to share the cover, and blurb, for Book 2 in the Tracefinder paranormal mystery series, Tracefinder: Changes.
On the first book cover – Tracefinder: Contact – I showed you Nick, who is hot and dark and gorgeous. I hadn’t planned for just one guy per cover – I usually do both – but two things happened. First, I wrote Brian as a sweet, big, not muscled and not built, young guy with very blond hair. Then I went looking and… couldn’t find him! As I was searching, though, I saw that first cover picture and said “OMG, that’s Nick!” It really, really was. Down to the wristband and the pose. So I bought the picture and made Nick my first cover.
I had one reviewer complain that I put the sexy guy on it, instead of the guy with the most heart. And I understand what she meant, although the focus in book 1 is as much on Nick as Brian. I was determined that for the second cover, I’d find him. And the person who spotted my Brian was Sidney Lowell of Creative Minds. He took the challenge, showed me this picture he found, and once again it was OMG yes! He’s sweet. He’s blond. He has a big chest and shoulders, but skinny arms. He’s not a body builder, he’s just a perfect Brian.
Brian can Find a lost child or a wanted criminal, but when his secret gets out, even Nick’s skills and connections may not be enough to keep them safe.
Brian Kerr is now free of his dangerous boss and his domineering brother. He’s eager to start using his psychic Finding talent to help people, if he can figure out how to do that safely. His dyslexia, and his tendency to act simpleminded under stress, make building his new life a daunting challenge. And while his not-quite-boyfriend, Nick, is willing to support him, in bed and out of it, Brian doesn’t want to lean on Nick. If their relationship is going anywhere, he has to be a full partner and handle his own problems.
Nick Rugo’s walking a tightrope instead of settling into the ordinary cop’s life he’d hoped for. He’s hiding too many things from too many people. He has told professional and unprofessional lies that will come back to haunt him. Now, with Brian determined to start Finding again, he’s not sure he can protect the man he cares for. If all that wasn’t enough to make him start punching walls, he also has a suspicion that Brian’s brother Damon and sister Lori may be out there, lurking, ready to complicate their lives.
Memorial Day in the US is a time to remember those who died while serving in the military. It also serves a very important function, in reminding us that our troops are not just “boots on the ground” or “armed forces” or “a military presence.” They are real people who put their lives on the line, in protection of their homeland and defense of innocents. They are individuals with hopes and dreams. Some are friends, lovers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, parents – the center of other lives, the beat of someone else’s heart.
Their deaths diminish all of us. In my family, my oldest uncle was lost in WWII, in the fields of France. He was the oldest son, my father’s brother. He was the one who was destined to set the world on fire. The smartest of the three (and my father was a PhD geneticist, so that’s saying something.) He was the one who understood people, the one with the most friends, the law student who was going to be Canadian Prime Minister one day. Instead, he’s become a part of the soil of a foreign land.
My father spoke of him almost every day, until his own death at age 88. It was, for him, an incalculable loss. For me, another uncle I never got to meet.
There are times when war seems inevitable, when madness and blindness and greed set events in motion that seem only stoppable with the blood of patriots. Sometimes events in another land cry out for humanitarian intervention, and our military members stand up to be counted. We owe those soldiers much.
But what we most owe them, and every person who puts on a uniform going forward, is attention. Accountability. Open eyes, not blind and lazy acceptance of what we are told.
From Vietnam to Iraq, we have been shown that our leaders turn to war for complex and suspect reasons. Some of those are not essential national safety, not worthy of the trust given them by our men and women in uniform. Sometimes it’s greed, ego, power, undue influence. Sometimes a real crisis is given spin and propaganda, and used for evil ends.
We are losing our veterans to suicide, at a rate of 22 a day, twice as high as civilians. These too, are casualties of how we wage war.
We owe our military, the dead and the living, our attention. We owe it to them to ask our leaders to justify uses of force with more than empty rhetoric. We must demand accountability. Both for the use they make of our military, and for the support they sometimes don’t give to our veterans.
Our soldiers, sailors and airmen and women stand up to place their mortal bodies between us and harm. We owe it to them to be sure we don’t use that sacrifice to line pockets, push corrupt ideologies, support unworthy regimes, or help our businesses make more money. It is up to all of us to do our best – checking data, writing letters, discussing, supporting investigations, and voting – to be sure that their courage is not rewarded by betrayal at the top.
To all those who served and paid the ultimate price, I thank you. Whether unavoidable war, questionable war, corrupt war – you still gave your trust to our leaders to protect the innocent lives at home. It’s now up to us to elect and monitor leaders who will not abuse that most precious gift. My uncle died reclaiming Europe from the Nazis. There was little doubt in his family’s minds that their loss was for a good and true cause. In a better world, every bereaved family should able to feel the same way.
Consider Ireland in the spring of 2015, in the months before the vote on equal marriage for same-sex couples. Sure, there were many good public information campaigns. But in the end, it was everyone who came out, to family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, who made the difference. It was “my son who’s gay”, “my lesbian auntie”, “my bisexual cousin”, “my gay dentist” who turned the tide. Personal familiarity and family feeling brought victory to the Yes campaign.
Coming out as transgender can carry physical and emotional risks, and may bring fewer new freedoms than coming out as LGB. And even so, we’re seeing more and more openly personal stories from people across the gender spectrum. As a parent of LGBTQ kids (and my extended family can identify with every one of those letters), and in supporting the teens on my YA Books group, I’m grateful to every single person who steps into the light to say, “Me too. When you speak of LGBTQ, you’re talking about me.”
Transgender rights are the most intense current LGBTQ battlefield for American opinion, although equal marriage opponents are still fighting a rearguard action. When it comes to the right of a teen trans girl not to be forced into the boys’ bathroom at her high school… there we find the new height of conservative fear-mongering. (Being used as a wedge against other LGBTQ rights, of course.)
Once more, I believe it will be visibility that wins this war. People keep talking about what a tiny group trans people are, how they’ve never met anyone transgender, as if that makes their lives not count. I believe that will change when they know trans people personally, when their image of a trans woman or girl is more Jazz Jennings or Corey Maison or retired Navy SEAL Kristin Beck or 12-year-old Tru Wilson and 95-year-old Robina Asti than some stereotype of cross-dressing.
I am grateful to so many people who are sharing their stories, to help others understand what it means to be transgender. To Jennifer Firth and her wife, Elizabeth . The “To Survive on this Shore” project highlighting older trans folk. Hannah Winterbourne of the British Army. To Matt Kailey who wrote in 2005 about transitioning at the age of 42. To the heirs of Angela Morley, a transgender pioneer who faced the incomprehension of the music industry when she transitioned in the 1970s, and of gospel singer , Willmer “Little Axe” Broadnax. And so many more.
Not to mention all those who don’t fit into the binary – a host of people who are coming out to say things like “My Gender is an Everything Bagel”. I have dozens of links to the stories of people who are stepping into the light, to challenge how we’ve thought about gender. To broaden our understanding beyond stereotypical male and female.
I think one of the best things I can do as an ally is to amplify their voices. Share their stories. Stand behind them, by linking their own words to inform and enlighten us. And to thank them, every day, from the bottom of a parent’s heart, for making a difference in the world. They make the future brighter for all the kids, cis, trans, and gender-nonconforming, who will grow up knowing that gender is in the mind, not dictated by chromosomes and anatomy, and that a person’s worth has nothing to do with their gender identity.
(Many additional links are available on the “Transgender and gender-spectrum narratives” thread on my YA LGBT Books group. It’s a public group. Feel free to check them out at https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2275320-transgender-and-gender-spectrum-narratives .)
To read others of the 65 posts along this Blog Hop for Visibility, Awareness and Equality, each also with a chance to win prizes, follow this link: http://hopforvisibilityawarenessandequality.blogspot.com/
Commenters below will be entered into a drawing for three winners, each to receive one of my backlist ebooks of their choice. (Check my “Books” blog page for possibilities.) Drawing will close Midnight Central time, May 25th, and winners will be chosen at random. (You do NOT need to put your email into the comment to win.)