Posts Tagged ‘romance’
The title, above, is the main question at the heart of CHANGING FACES, my new fantasy romance set in modern-day Nebraska featuring a bisexual and gender-fluid woman, Elaine Foster, and her heterosexual boyfriend, Allen Bridgeway. These two have overcome much to find each other, fall in love, and now want to get married — but Elaine’s been keeping her gender-fluidity secret, as she’s desperately afraid Allen will not be able to understand it.
The problem is, when you don’t have open communication, love has no way to grow and becomes less sustaining and fulfilling. Ultimately, if you are holding a big secret inside, as Elaine is at the start of CHANGING FACES, it starts to poison your relationship…that secret has to come out, or you end up with the question I posed above: when love disappoints, what is the point?
See, you need to share all of yourself, when you’re in love with someone else. The good stuff, the bad stuff, the in between stuff…it all has to come out, or you aren’t truly joining with someone else. (That “two shall become one” Bible verse is not just about children, after all.) You have to be willing to be vulnerable, to open yourself up to potential ridicule — though someone who truly loves you isn’t going to do that, we are all human and we all worry about such things — and to hope that your love will grow, change, and flourish over time.
In the case of CHANGING FACES, Elaine is worried that Allen can’t possibly understand her gender-fluidity, as she barely understands it herself and she’s lived with it her entire life. She also was a child of the foster homes, as was Allen…while Allen was able to find a loving adoptive home after a while, Elaine never was, and worse, Elaine was raped while resident of her last foster home by five young men. It’s because of this atrocious act that Elaine can only barely accept Allen’s love for her in the first place, and it adds stress to an already stressful situation.
You might be wondering why Allen keeps trying, hey? Well, he truly is in love with Elaine. He sees who she is, even if he doesn’t know about her gender-fluidity (he doesn’t care about her bisexuality at all; he figures he looks at women, she looks at women too, and they only go home with each other so that’s fine), and he loves her indomitable spirit. He sees her, entire, sees her soul, and loves her for who she is.
But of course, when she finally tells him about her gender-fluidity (and how she believes she’d rather live as a man, maybe get the surgery down the line to become a man outwardly, even though she’d always think of herself as a woman — did I mention that Elaine is a feminist scholar? No?), Allen is completely thrown.
Who wouldn’t be?
I mean, you live with someone for seven years, right? You love that person wisely and well, knowing how much she’s been hurt, appreciating that despite it all, she’s willing to turn to you and give you everything she has…and then you find out this secret.
Allen’s a very good man. He wants to be with Elaine so much, even though he doesn’t understand any of this, he prays that she won’t leave him (as she’s confused, hurt, and upset, and is about to do that very thing even though she still loves him every bit as much as before).
And his prayer is answered by two quirky, shapeshifting angels…
Look. My view of love is very simple. Love matters, period. You have to have communication and trust and honesty, or love can’t flourish as it should. (I think it dies, personally, if you don’t have those things, but maybe that’s just me.) The right person at the right time in your life can work wonders — refer back to everything I’ve said about my late husband Michael if you don’t believe me (I have a category for it, even, if you haven’t read anything about Michael before, on the side of the blog) — but you have to be open and vulnerable and real and tell the truth about yourself, or love will be ultimately less than fulfilling and highly disappointing.
Telling the truth and being vulnerable is a big risk. That’s why it’s so hard to do. And it’s even harder when you’re someone like Elaine who’s been badly hurt and who doesn’t really know how to explain who and what she is…she’s not lying to Allen, but she’s not able to tell him everything, either, and thus, a wedge grows between them.
A wedge that can only be fixed by the two quirky angels and their solution of changing Allen and Elaine’s faces (that is, putting Allen in Elaine’s body, and Elaine in Allen’s, so they’re now both, in effect, transgender in every sense).
As I’ve said in the past several days, I believe in love. I believe in honesty. I believe in miracles, faith, optimism, second chances all unlooked for, and I think we need more of it in this world.
I’m proud to have written CHANGING FACES, and I hope you will enjoy it as well. Do let me know what you think…especially about how you, yourself, have transcended the disappointments you’ve found in your own love relationships (as trust me, every single one of us has been disappointed in a love relationship one way or another — it seems to be part of the human condition).
Edited to add:
Here are all the places you can find CHANGING FACES…Chris the Story-Reading Ape put it in this format (so thank you again, Chris!):
Folks, as most of you know, Valentine’s Day rapidly approaches. V-Day is one of those times that men mostly hate, some women (such as myself) mostly hate as well, and most people in relationships can also dread because the social significance of the day is murky, at best.
See, we’re told over and over again to get our loved ones things. Lots and lots of things, whether it’s jewelry, Pajamagrams, teddy bears, or, if you have enough money to do so, a new car…all of those things are going to be hawked to you, or anyone in a relationship, as needed and necessary for V-Day.
The meaning of what love is, much less what Valentine’s Day should be about — the celebration of love, and those who dare to keep loving despite the longest of odds — seems to get more lost by the day.
I’d rather talk about what true love is.
True love is caring. Sacrifice for your partner, if needed (and sometimes, it will be needed, in one form or another). Compassion. Paying attention to what matters to you, and trying to alleviate the worst of what brings you down…that is what love is about.
Love is unselfish, too. It’s all about the other person, caring more for them than you do about your own self, and about making that other person happy.
Yeah, you should get something out of it. You should be happier, wiser, kinder, a better person, and certainly if your lover is not asexual, you should have a happy romantic life ahead of you for as long as you two are together on the face of this Earth…what you get, if you are smart, is a better and more meaningful life, all because you dared to care about someone else more than yourself, and threw out what society assumes is “normal” behavior.
So, how does my new novel, CHANGING FACES, come into this conversation? (Other than the fact that it’s a love story, that is?)
First, read the blurb, as that may help:
Allen and Elaine are graduate students in Nebraska, and love each other very much. Their life should be idyllic, but Elaine’s past includes rape, neglect, and abuse from those who should’ve loved her—but didn’t, because from childhood, Elaine identified as transgender.
When Elaine tells Allen right before Christmas, he doesn’t know what to do. He loves Elaine, loves her soul, has heard about transgender people before, but didn’t think Elaine was one of them—she looks and acts like anyone else. Now, she wants to become a man and is going to leave.
He prays for divine intervention, and says he’ll do anything, just please don’t separate him from Elaine…and gets it.
Now, he’s in Elaine’s body. And she’s in his. They’ll get a second chance at love.
Why? Because once you find your soulmate, the universe will do almost anything to keep you together—even change your faces.
You see, Allen loves Elaine more than he loves himself. He’s confused by her, because she’s trans, because she has gender-fluidity in her makeup, all that…but he loves her. Passionately. And he’ll do anything to stay with her…even become trans himself (albeit through the auspices of two meddling angels), if that is what it takes.
Why does Allen do this? Well, when you’re in love, you care more about the other person than you care about yourself. You want that other person to feel better, and be her best self…you want, in essence, to help that other person become whatever that person needs to be in order to feel good about herself, because doing anything less weakens your love and regard for your partner.
Note that you should never, never, never become less than you are, with someone you love. (I have to point this out, because I know it’s something I wish had been explained to me before I married young. Instead, I had to find out the hard way, and it took years before I found my late husband and realized what true love really was about. But I digress.)
Instead, you should become more yourself. More creative, if that’s what you are. Kinder. More compassionate. More aware of the world and what’s around you. More willing to fight suffering, even if all you can do is give someone a handkerchief when she’s crying and wish you could do more…
You should care, in other words.
No matter how hard it is, no matter how difficult it seems, so long as you and your partner both care, and try, and communicate, and are willing to keep caring and trying and communicating, you have a shot.
(But see what I said before about the limitations of love, especially if you’re with someone who doesn’t care about you…that is the type of person who is only about materialism or what you can do for him/her, and should be avoided at all costs.)
Anyway, I think anyone — straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, gender-fluid, or Martian — should enjoy CHANGING FACES if you enjoy romance at all. It has a fantasy element (how not, me being me?), is quirky (again, me being me, you have to expect that), and it has music and musicians and all sorts of good stuff…but the main thing to remember is, it’s about love. Communication. Compassion. Self-sacrifice. Honesty. And hard work.
Because without compassion, self-sacrifice, honesty, communication, and hard work, love isn’t worth very much. But with them? It’s priceless.
Folks, it’s been a long time coming, as most of you know, but my third novel, CHANGING FACES, is now out as an e-book and is available at Amazon. (Further links will be added as they become live; there will be a Barnes and Noble link later, and possibly one at AllRomance/OmniLit as well.) And best of all, the book is priced at only ninety-nine cents for the first week or so!
So, without further ado, here’s the links:
And in case you want a few sample chapters, here’s a link to that:
Now, because it’s important, I want to say a few things.
First, I’m glad that I have good friends in the writing and editing community and appreciate the support I’ve received during the last tumultuous year or so.
Second, I hope that CHANGING FACES, a book about a couple in love that looks “normal,” but actually isn’t as the feminine half of the couple, Elaine, is gender-fluid and identifies as transgender, will help spread some light and understanding about #LGBT individuals.
See, people are people. They want love, affection, understanding, all that. The gender and sexuality really doesn’t make that much difference, when it comes to these universal truths.
But it’s hard, sometimes, to make things work in a romance, even if you both are what society understands. We make mistakes, we people, and it’s hard to communicate even when you desperately love someone and want only what’s best for him or her.
Allen and Elaine’s story of love, frustration, misunderstandings, major changes, and ultimately more love and better understanding, was deeply personal to me. I hope it will matter to you as well, and that you will see it as a transcendent love story that matters to every living human soul.
Because that’s how I see it.
Folks, today is the second in what I hope will be a three-day extravaganza of blog exchanges. Author Victoria Adams is visiting the Elfyverse, while I am visiting her blog to discuss my two stories in the Exquisite Christmas anthology, those being “Marja’s Victory” and “To Hunt the Hunter.”
Why are Victoria and I doing a blog exchange? Well, she and I got to know each other because of the Exquisite Christmas anthology. She has a great story to lead off the anthology, one featuring a belly dancer, called “Christmas Knight.” And I hoped she’d not mind telling you more about this story, plus giving an excerpt to boot — and fortunately for me, she agreed.
So, take it away, Victoria!
Hi, I’m Victoria Adams and I’m excited to be here with the newly released anthology of Christmas stories — Exquisite Christmas.
In my story, “Christmas Knight,” Tamara is a belly dancer who is performing on a cruise ship.
Why did I pick a belly dancer? Because I’m a belly dancer. I’ve taken dance since I was in grade 3, but it was ballet way back then. After university, I taught dance in a Performing Arts school for many, many, MANY years.
A friend of mine visited Egypt and fell in love with Egypt and belly dance. She trained, studied and performed and eventually began to teach. I took classes and fell in love with the dance.
The above picture is not me. Belly dance doesn’t care how tall, small, skinny, not-skinny, young or old you are. You don’t have to leap through the air or do full splits on the ground. Yes, you do get to shake your butt – that’s called a shimmy.
Here’s a YouTube link on how to Shimmy – https://youtu.be/cZP0wxQJIfc
Every May, I and thousands of other belly dancers around the world participate in Shimmy Mob. The reason – to raise money for women and children’s shelters. It’s a fun day.
You don’t have to be a belly dancer to join in the day – here’s is the link if you want to check it out – http://www.shimmymob.com/
An excerpt from the short story “Christmas Knight:”
Her body trembled. Tears tumbled from her eyes. Tamara plopped on the bench, lifted the handkerchief to her face and blew. “Oh!” She turned. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to use it. I’ll…get it cleaned.”
His mouth broke into a wide grin. His eyes sparkled like the stars above her. Tamara forgot her sadness and revelled in the joy of the moment.
“Question? Your hair was long and black this evening.” He slid his hand over her short, red hair.
She shrugged. “Wig.”
He lowered his gaze. “I was mesmerized by your dancing. The sensual way you moved. I felt it here.” He lifted his head and rested his hand on his chest. “It felt like you were dancing just for me.”
Tamara chuckled. “I almost was. The ship is only about a quarter full.” She bit her bottom lip. “I saw you when I was first on stage, getting my bearings. When I dance I can’t look at the audience. I pretend it’s just dress rehearsal and there’s no one watching me.”
“I was watching you.” He brushed his hand across her cheek. “And what do you mean, getting your bearings?”
Shifting in her seat, Tam leaned against the back and stretched out her legs. “I find the edges. You know, so I don’t misstep and fall off. I don’t want the audience to know how much of a klutz I really am.”
“I would catch you.” He stood, turned to face her, and held out his arms. “Let’s practise. You fall off the bench and I will catch you.”
Tammy slapped her hand against her mouth, giggled, and shook her head.
“No is the wrong answer.” He crossed his arms. “I’m doing my best knight in shining armour impress—” He glanced down at his suit. “Change that to, I’m here in my best Hugo Boss suit doing by my Sir Lancelot impression of a brave and noble knight, willing to rescue a damsel in distress. You have to fall, so I can catch you.” He thrust his arms out.
“Do it,” a voice from somewhere in her head shouted.
Digging up a moment of courage, Tam stood, climbed onto the bench, and turned to face her gallant knight-wannabe. She bit back a tsunami of nervous giggles, raised her arms, and moved them in an undulating, snake-light movement. Swerving her hips in a slow figure eight pattern, she rippled the muscles up and down her belly. She took two steps to the right then slightly turned to the left. She raised the back of her hand to her forehead and squealed in a perfect drama-queen voice, “Ooh. Catch me.” Then shifted her balance and allowed herself to fall.
His arms were strong as they pulled her close to his body. Inhaling the sensual aroma of his aftershave, she rested her head against his shoulder and let a wave of serenity wash over her.
His gaze met hers. “I feel at a moment such as this, we should be introduced. I’m S.C.”
“Hello, Tamara. Lovely name.”
“What does S.C. stand for? And are you going to put me down?”
“If I must.”
About Exquisite Christmas: When romance writers give love stories to the world, we do more than entertain – we share our hope for something better. These imaginative moments of happy-ever-after warm the soul and ripple outward. The world needs more love, and every bit helps.
We hope you enjoy this collection of heartwarming seasonal tales and delicious recipes by twenty-one Bestselling, Award-winning, and Multi-Published Authors from the international Exquisite Quills community: Victoria Adams, Rose Anderson, E. Ayers, Beverley Bateman, Lily Bishop, Barb Caffrey, Helena Fairfax, J.D. Faver, Jennifer Garcia, Romy Gemmell, Vonnie Hughs, Susan Jaymes, Gemma Juliana, Jean Lamb, Lyndi Lamont, Zanna Mackenzie, Janis Susan May, Dee Ann Palmer, Jane Leopold Quinn, Kaye Spencer, and M. S. Spencer.
Author Bio – Victoria Adams, author of NA contemporary and contemporary romances was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. Victoria lives in the country where she takes long walks on her quiet country road and in the summer tends her flower gardens and vegetable patch and in the winter dreams about them, while they are buried under two feet of snow. Her large farm house now holds only her cat, herself, her husband and a ghost.
Victoria Adams is the alternate pen name to another author – secret identity. She is indie published.
Dancing In Circles (Circles Trilogy book 1)
Circles Divided (Circles Trilogy book 2)
Circles Interlocked (Circles Trilogy book 3)
A Guy and A Girl
Exquisite Christmas (anthology of Christmas Stories and recipes)
Where to find me
Blog – Victoria’s Pages of Romance – http://victoriaadams.blogspot.com
Facebook Author Page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Adams/244325918978641
FaceBook page – Books by Victoria Adams – http://www.facebook.com/CirclesTrilogy?ref=hl
Twitter – http://twitter.com/_VictoriaAdams
Folks, I hope you will not mind traveling today, as I am guesting at Lyndi Lamont’s blog for today’s “blog exchange.” (Lyndi is also known as Linda McLaughlin, and by either name is an excellent writer. Her site is LindaLyndi.com, and she has all sorts of interesting articles over there. Do make a note of it.)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the differences between writing a romance for teens — or at least stories that contain romance as an important element such as in my Elfyverse — and a more mature love. And as Lyndi and I both have stories in Exquisite Christmas, I decided to use examples drawn from the second of my stories there, “To Hunt the Hunter.”
So, you have Bruno and Sarah on the one hand. They are innocent, young, involved in their first (and only) serious romance, and are feeling their way. They don’t yet know what they want, but they do know they want something.
And then you have Marja and Tomas, the protagonists of “Marja’s Victory” and “To Hunt the Hunter” (both included in Exquisite Christmas). They are not young. Marja in particular is not beautiful and does not care to be, even though she’s a shapeshifter so she obviously could be if she wished. Tomas is a telepathic mountain Troll, so he’s used to people lying to him and values someone who’s being truthful above all others.
After I put up a couple of excerpts (you need to go to Lyndi/Linda’s blog to check them out), I said this:
First, Bruno and Sarah are obviously young. This is their first and only serious relationship, and they are both respectful of one another and innocent, to boot. (They both like to think they’re not, of course. But that comes with the territory.)
Marja and Tomas, on the other hand, are not young. They have been in a serious relationship for quite some time and work well together. But there is genuine love there, and genuine understanding, besides – note that Tomas says, “Those other fools who passed on you do not matter anymore.” No male of any species would ever say that to a woman if he didn’t truly and deeply love her. And no woman would smile just for him (as Marja does, though I ended the excerpt before she smiled for the sake of brevity) after hearing something like that unless there was genuine love on her part as well.
Anyway, I hope you will enjoy my guest blog over at Lyndi/Linda’s site. I know I enjoyed writing it — and I enjoyed having Lyndi here at the Elfyverse today as well. (I’m even hoping to coax her to come back in the New Year, so she can tell us more about what’s going on with her stories.)
Happy holidays, everyone — and do check out the Exquisite Christmas anthology as it’s a true “comfort book.”
Folks, I’m very excited to announce that my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s story “Columba and the Cat” is going to be coming back out independently very soon as an e-book via Amazon Kindle — within a week if all goes well.
And now, I have a cover!
I edited Michael’s story, and I know it’s good.
“But what’s it about, Barb?” you ask.
“Columba and the Cat” is about Princess Columba of Illinowa. She’s a magician, a scholar, and is currently the heir to the throne…and wants no part of it. Because she’s royalty, she’s had trouble meeting men, and she’s tired of dealing with people in search of a title rather than herself.
Into her life comes a mysterious cat. (Literally. The cat nearly gets run over while she’s out riding.) She rescues the cat, takes him into the palace, and starts having unusual dreams — dreams of a man who understands her, cares about her, and loves her.
Now, why did this happen after the cat showed up? Well, unbeknownst to Columba, the cat is a shapeshifter. He, too, is royal, albeit from far away. And he’s the man of her dreams…that is, when he’s not in the form of a cat.
Anyway, the dream-man shows up, and the cat disappears. Columba must decide whether or not to believe in magic, believe in the dreams — and hope that somehow, all of the magical romance she’s found is here to stay.
It’s a deeply romantic story with more than a little paranormal involvement. I definitely hope people will enjoy it, and am pleased to be able to finally bring it back out again.
There are three more stories in this universe. Two are written by Michael, while one is currently being written by me from Cat’s perspective (as in, why did he go in search of Columba in the first place?) Perhaps more can be written, later, if people show interest — I think my late husband would like that.
My plan is to have “Columba and the Cat” out as an e-book at Amazon in time for my thirteenth wedding anniversary on June 24, 2015. (I think Michael would approve.)
Before I go back to my editing (an intensive project, already in progress), here’s a banner display to check out as well, courtesy of artist Kathey from the Author’s Secret. (They have ready-made covers over there, too, and offer a wide array of services. Just sayin’.)