Religion in lesfic #brokentaboos #amwriting #shortstory

I write lesfic, and I write religion, and the two do not often mix. There are some places that this works, but most likely, whatever I write with a women loving women bent and religion is not going to take off.

I know this, but still I write it. Why? Because lesbians are Christians and Christians are lesbians. I tend to stick in the Christianity realm (versus other faiths) because that is my area of expertise. There are a whole slew of LGBT et al folk in the Christian faith. The loudmouths like to let us believe otherwise, but it’s not true.

I’ve got a romance novel that’s sitting finished on my laptop. I finished it in July. And here it sits. I did submit it to one publisher, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be rejected because one of my main characters, my lesbian character, is a chaplain at a hospital. Now, to note, she may be a chaplain, but this is ironically one of the least religious books I have ever written. I think she prays twice in it.

My Spirit of Grace series and anything to do with Grace and Amya is religious. Grace is named for the grace of God. Can’t get much more connected than that. I’ve had people tell me the book series is preachy, but well, I’m a preacher during the day, so I disagree. If they want preachy, I can give them preachy. =P

But why is it that these two subjects can’t seem to go well together and sell. I can’t sell it on the Christian market because well, lesbians and women loving women and sex (sometimes). I can’t sell it on the lesfic market because apparently all Christians are assholes and don’t like the gays (not true).

I’m left with the conundrum. Do I keep writing it? Do I stop? Where do I put it out for others to read? And who the hell wants to read it other than me?

I’ve been literally working on a short story serial called Kansas Beatitudes for four years now. You should know where this is going. The Beatitudes are scripture. There are eight of them. For each Beatitude, I am planning on writing a short little romance story around the central theme. I’ve already written two. But the first Beatitude is Poor in Spirit, and I’m struggling beyond compare with it.

Two reasons: poor in Spirit is far more religious centered than mourning or being meek. Secondly, I really want it to be an open relationship, F/F/F, with a pastor as one of the F’s in there. So what happens if and when I write it? Hmmm? Because I can’t imagine a publisher who would be willing to publish it. Yes, there is self-pubbing, but the questions about marketing and production are the same. Who will read it? Who on earth is the market? Is the market big enough to warrant the story and the time and the effort? Do I write it anyway because it’s not about sales but about story itself?

It would be easy enough to change the story. To write something different. But I tend to go where the muse and the little green men in my computer tell me to go and write.

Why is this taboo so taboo? People come in all shapes and sizes and religions and faiths and colors. Why is it that religion and the LGBT et al combined is so hard to sell and so repulsed by every side of the reading spectrum?

I recently finished reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Shameless, and I’ve got to say, we need a sexual reformation in the church, but we also need a religious reformation in the world. I live in a world where I almost have to 100% keep everything separate from each other. I can’t talk about my lesfic writing in church; I can’t talk about my church in my lesfic writing.

Sex and religion have so often been at odds with each other. It’s time we stop fearing both. It’s time we open the table for discussion. It’s time we shut up and listen, truly listen, to what is being said and what is being felt.

If you haven’t read Nadia’s book. It’s worth it. Trust me. So worth it!

Broken Taboos: Religion #taboo #brokentaboo #religioninwriting

To continue the saga of what taboos I write, I’ve chosen religion as my next component. I don’t know how many of you have read my series, but if you have, then you know religion is an element in them. We’re always told growing up not to talk religion and politics. Well, I didn’t talk, I wrote. =P so there! ha!

Anyway, I write religion. In the James Matthews series it’s subtle. In the Spirit of Grace series…well it’s as obvious as the names of the books. In James, I handled it in an I don’t care but I want it in there kind of way. I wanted at least one of my characters to be Christian, and it turned out to be Addison Lee. She was the instigator, and James was the deflector.

James didn’t like that Addison wanted to pray before meals, especially at the work place. But Addison was her boss, so she sucked it up and did it. And then she missed it when [SPOILER]. It’s something I wanted in there to introduce the idea that oh my god, yes a lesbian can be a lesbian and Christian.

Time and time again I run into the push back in the LGBT et al community about Christianity. And you know what? I run into push back time and time in the Christian community about the LGBT et al community. It’s as if the two are warring and don’t want to even touch each other. Like really? We all live in the same country. We’re fucking neighbors, people! Get over it and be neighborly.

I get very tired of reading books that are so anti-Christianity or of seeing authors and readers post things on Facebook and in groups and on twitter and in blogs that are so anti-Christian simple because they write gay things. That’s not how it works. Yeah there are some out there on both ends of the spectrum, but I think rather both groups don’t want to start issues with the others. Mostly because if they did, they would both lose out.

Each group is just as important, and particularly in my life. Oh? I haven’t mentioned it? Then I shall mention it now. I’m an ordained minister. I went to four years of seminary to get my Master’s in Divinity. I have a Bachelor’s in Theology and Church History. Guess what–I’m also bisexual. I’m a bisexual Christian.

Perhaps that gives me an advantage, being bi. We break the binary in so many ways. It’s no longer about being one or the other. There’s a new element added in. BOTH or even better ALL! It’s how our lives go. We see it all, the good and the bad. We get shunned from the Christian community and we get shunned from the LGBT et al community.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to defend my sexuality to both Christians and those who claim they’re in the same club as me. Oh wait, that’s both groups! I cross the boundaries in ways no one would expect, and it really unnerves people. Being bisexual is an up yours to people who like lines. We don’t like lines. In fact, I’m not sure we have many of them at all.

Christianity isn’t the bad thing here. And the LGBT et al community isn’t the bad thing. It’s certain individuals in both groups who feel the need to expound hatred and lines when neither are necessary. BE NEIGHBORLY PEOPLE! Remember that. When you’re nervous because there’s a Christian or when you’re nervous because there’s a gay person. Be neighborly. That’s all we really have to do.

So yes, I talk religion in my books. I talk societal issues in my books. I get a lot of push back from it. If you’ve read For by Grace, you know there’s a kick ass character in there named Peter. I LOVE Peter. My publisher loves Peter. My beta readers LOVE Peter. Readers love Peter.

But there are some readers who hate Peter. He’s been called a religious nut job who just spews Scripture that makes no sense. I do implore you to actually look at the Scripture Peter is “spewing” because I did carefully pick it. By the way, it’s very hard to find a public domain Bible that doesn’t have the thees and the thous, but Peter so would not use them. Anyway, I’ve had a lot of push back on Peter, which is hilarious seeing as how the second main character and the love interest in the entire series is a chaplain. A CHAPLAIN! Someone who has power in the church.

I had thought I would get more push back for Amya than for Peter, but no, it’s come for Peter. No clue why. Peter is there for a reason. Aside from the plot points he needs to give to Grace and the fact that [SPOILER], he is someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions about faith and he’s just trying to figure it out. He’s trying to figure it out by asking Grace questions. Grace who is anti-Christianity not because she is a lesbian but because the church hurt her so bad she’s not sure she could believe in something so painful.

Spirit of Grace series was intended as a deeply spiritual piece, as a discussion on the LGBT et al community and the Christian community in a safe environment. The role of a Chaplain. Chaplains have this power and I’m not sure many realize it. They have the ability to come off as a counselor rather than a religious leader, and that makes them far more accessible. It also makes them freer in terms of the confines of the church. Amya explains that once.

Each of the titles of the books and the series name itself comes from Scripture. The first is from Ephesians 2:8. It was important to me to make it clear from the beginning that yes, there was going to be religion in this book and you better suck it up and deal with it because religion is something that needs to be discussed. It’s something we need to think about and deal with.

Religion itself has been around longer than almost any country. And this country, the United States of America, whether you want to believe it or think about it, was founded on Protestant beliefs. Beliefs that are fast becoming extinct in this world. There are more and more people each day who haven’t heard the story of Jesus, who don’t know who he was or what role he has in their history. I’m not saying that as a minister. I’m saying that as a citizen of the US. Whether or not you believe that Jesus Christ was born, died, was crucified and was raised, it doesn’t matter. His story has made an impact on where you are today. It’s history.

If we hadn’t wanted freedom of religion to believe what we wanted to believed, the United States would be a vastly different country. We wouldn’t be founded on that principle. We wouldn’t have been discovered and populated so quickly. We wouldn’t have the history we have with it’s religious wars and crimes against humanity.

It’s our history. It’s part of our current and present reality. Christianity is alive among us today, and yes, I’m going to talk about it. I hope to talk about it in a context that is safe and an environment that needs to think about why Christianity is so important. Not to believe, but because of the effects it has on us as people living in 2015.

Broken Taboos: being bisexual and writing lesbian fiction

I wrote this post on my Facebook wall a while ago and realized quickly it was 1. too long for a post on Facebook and 2. really needed to be expanded on. So here you are…my rant on why I write broken taboos and then a calmer discussion toward the bottom.


 

 

What? I write things that are taboo? Things people don’t talk about? What? No…. =P

Lesbians!
Religion and lesbians?
Tentacles and sex?
Twincest?
Again! Religion and lesbians? Because we all know you can’t be a Christian and a lesbian…ummm…what?

Sex used to be a taboo subject too. Erotica, things with eroticism. Now it’s just another book. It’s hard to find books without sex in them.

So YES!

There are religious elements in every book in the James Matthews series. There’s also no sex. There’s also other taboo subjects. Mental illness. Foster care.

There are definitely overpowering religious elements in every book in the Spirit of Grace series. I mean, come one, one is a Chaplain and then you have Peter. OMG I love Peter.

Yes there is tentacles and erotica in Loneliness Ebbs Deep. It was a fun exploration of how to write hentai in a consensual and sensual way. Not to mention an exploration of how masturbation is a GOOD thing.

Yes in Quarter Life: Energy Feed there is twincest. It just kinda happened and it worked. They’re not human, so who knows what rules or social parameters they have. Also they don’t actually touch each other. There are rules, and they follow those rules.

Yes in Quarter Life the rest of the series there are witches, vampires, bigfoot, and a whole slew of other creatures that used to be taboo. There’s bisexualism in a realistic manner that isn’t all about let’s have sex with whoever because we’re bisexual and can use it as an excuse.

In Memoir in the Making there is the taboo of an age difference, quite a big one, there is the taboo of student/teacher relations NOT just being about sex but actually being about love.

So…I guess what this rant is for, which I’ve been shunting down for awhile, is to say to you…if you don’t like reading taboo things and exploring them further, then I am not the author for you. If you do like exploring taboos in the safe environment of reading a book, then HELLOOOoooo! Welcome to my world!

***

There is a reason why I write taboos, things that are NOT talked about. It’s nothing I can particularly say I went in expecting to write when I started the whole publishing thing, but I do have to say I love it. It’s a challenge to me. Not only does it make me think of how can I pull something like this off without being disrespectful, with making it more acceptable in society, but to actually have a point and a reason behind it.

The first taboo I deal with is writing lesbian fiction. It’s not even just the fact that people don’t really talk about lesbians, it’s the fact that lesbian fiction is the taboo in the LGBT fiction world. Gay fiction is readily accepted. People read it all the time. Straight people even. Same with bisexual and menage/poly. It’s just readily accepted.

But I find that lesbian fiction isn’t really read much beyond the lesbian or bisexual female realm. It’s a much smaller audience, and surprisingly, not a lot of people are willing to take a risk and try it. It’s as if something about two women being together and being realistic isn’t attractive to them.

Not only to I write lesbian fiction, but I write lesbian fiction as a bisexual/omnisexual woman. There we go, another taboo right off the bat. I don’t know if you know this, but lesbian fiction is not readily accepted by lesbians unless you, the author, are a lesbian yourself. I do have an advantage and disadvantage here.

1. I’m a woman (don’t even get me started on men who write lesbian fiction and are put down because of it)
2. I’m bisexual/omnisexual (meaning I get what’s it’s like to love a woman even though I married a man)

Being a woman gives me an instant in. Some readers see that I’m a woman who writes lesbian fiction and automatically assume I’m a lesbian. Which is fine, it really doesn’t matter to me. A reader is a reader. But it’s people who flat out refuse to pick up my books because I write something they don’t think I have any understanding on. It’s interesting to me because I mostly write urban fantasy…like I understand what it’s like to be a pyrokinetic or telepathic or a witch or a vampire. I don’t. Those things don’t exist in the real world. So why is it acceptable for me to write those but to lesbians?

It’s not something I claim to understand, but it is a definite belief. It’s something I want to explore, something I want to understand. But I’m not sure I ever will. And the interesting thing is…I do with with bisexual books. There aren’t a lot out there, but the ones that are tend to be ploy/menage. It’s not something I see as a common form of bisexualism. It doesn’t mean I won’t read the books, but it does mean I don’t consider those books bisexual. It’s different. I find that people rarely want to write bisexual or other colors under the rainbow (lesbian and gay aside) unless they actually fall into that category themselves. It’s as if people are afraid to test and try out and expand their creativity.

And I don’t blame them. If you’re constantly being labeled as “not this so I won’t read” then why even try to write it? This is where being bisexual/omnisexual comes in handy. I have been in relationships with women. Hell, I almost married one. So I do have experience, and the label of bisexuality comes along with the assumption of experience. So there are some readers, who with that label, will pick up my books.

But the point of this whole long post is that I break the taboos. I’m not someone who follows a binary (ha! Bisexual and binary!? Not likely). I’m someone who likes to explore what we consider societal norms and try to figure out why the hell they’re there and if they really work.

So this post begins a new post series that will go on for I don’t know how long. I’ll talk about some of the taboos I write, and I’ll talk about how I break them, or rather, why I wanted to write them.