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No Perfect People: A #Mother’s Day Reflection

aliciaDoSomethingGood

When I wrote those words in the novel Run or Die, they came from growing up with my mother. She was a woman who became the first female remodeling contractor in our state to do her own work.  Never play the damsel-in-distress because if you play it long enough, you become it.  Never back down from a bully; they only get worse. And, whenever you get knocked down, pick yourself back up and throw yourself back into the fight. Never settle; constantly strive to improve, to grow, to become more.

All very necessary lessons as I grew up in a ghetto. A poverty-stricken area where dreams died fast and so did most people. But most people weren’t my mother.

Flying saucers were part of my childhood–they were the things my mom threw at my stepfather. She liked knives, too, but unlike the cups and saucers, she deliberately missed with the knives. A friendly warning; that’s all. Her temper was well-known in our neighborhood. No one wanted to set it off, including me. All too frequently, I was at the wrong end of her temper; often for reasons I never understood.

You’d think that with memories like that, that I would despise my mother. Honestly, I did go through a phase of hating her, but it never diminished the fact that I also loved and admired her; respected and idolized her. Why? One time she told me to wake her up and when I did, she threw a Vick’s jar at me. I ducked and took off out of the house until she calmed down. So, why do I retain good memories of my mother? Why do I speak of her with respect?

Because, in spite of the violence, my mother was a kind and caring person. No, that is not some illusion succored by someone who can’t accept the truth; the reality. Let me tell you about the woman beneath the violence.

My mother grew up in a coal camp–tarpaper shanties where coal miners and their families lived while the miners eked out a piss poor existence. Water hauled from the creek, kerosene lanterns rather than electricity, outdoor latrines. A tough life. My grandmother cleaned a rich woman’s house for a pittance and the rich woman’s castoff clothes that Grandma altered by lantern light. My mother’s father–my biological grandfather–like most men in the camps believed it was his right to get drunk on money needed for food and to come home and beat his wife and children.

My grandmother, like most women of that day and that place, put up with the beatings until the night he staggered home and went after my mother. My grandmother grabbed his gun from the cupboard. She told him to “Get yerself right with your Maker, John.” Then she pulled the trigger. Fortunately, or unfortunately, (I never could decide on that) John took those seconds to dive out of the tarpaper-covered window hole. Grandma plugged him in the upper thigh, but he’d learned his lesson. He didn’t return and died in a coal mine cave-in years later.

Didn’t matter. He had used his money for booze and women. It was Grandma’s work that fed and housed the family.

Fast forward to when my mother turned fourteen. She had a beautiful singing voice and from somewhere managed to scrounge up a battered guitar and taught herself how to play.  Big dreams for a girl in a coal mining camp. Eventually, she ran away to the city where singers, even women, could find jobs as singers and guitar pickers. Yes, some women did find lounges and places to launch their career as singers. My mother wasn’t so lucky. She scratched out a living doing whatever it took to survive.

But, she never gave up. She wrote songs and found small venues where they hired her to play and sing. Sometimes, the pay consisted of a plate of food and beer. It was rough trade and a tough life.

Fast forward again. Birth control wasn’t available to my mother back then. She wound up eventually getting pregnant and getting married. Still, she refused to completely give up her dreams of singing. She continued to write, to sing and play when she found the gigs, but a woman with kids didn’t enjoy the same kind of freedom to pursue her passion as a man with kids. Over time, finding work to pay the rent and the bills took priority over pursuing her dreams. My mother accepted her responsibilities to provide for children, but alcohol and drugs soothed the wound left by her unrealized dreams.

Yet, even under the burden and the anger of thwarted dreams and passion, the despair of watching her life become a drudgery, of never having anyone with whom she felt able to truly share, the true spirit and heart of my mother shone. In large actions and in small ones, her kindness and caring spilled out.

Violence in poverty-stricken areas is sharpened by  physical hungers as well as despair. And, no one in our neighborhood ever had enough to eat. Somehow, Mom talked to the “bulls” that guarded the train yards back then into allowing her and me to gather the crates of fruit and vegetables that had fallen and busted during transfers from train cars to trucks for delivery. We hauled those crates home in the back of Mom’s dilapidated pickup. Then she would send me around to invite the neighbors to help us out, since we “couldn’t possibly eat it all”. I learned a valuable lesson back then: sometimes the only thing poor people have left is their pride. You don’t offer charity; you ask them to help you.

Another time, a child in our neighborhood needed medical care that her parents couldn’t afford. Mom set up a street fair on our deadend street. Now, for most people that right there would spell disaster for the fair. Not my mother. Even to this day, I have no idea how she pulled all those people to our street; to her fair. People paid to walk past those cars parked across the end of the street and they paid to play and laugh and eat. After two days, the fair ended and the little girl received her treatment.

It wasn’t just what my mother gave to others that impressed me. My mother was a consummate oral storyteller, telling stories in such a way that tears would pour down my cheeks and then the next story would have me laughing so hard my stomach ached. I would sit at her feet and listen for hours, transported to other worlds and far-off times.

Like the stories, I recall the nights my mother played her battered guitar and sang. Even today, I remember many of the songs.

My stepfather and mother both worked, so I was given chores such as cleaning the house and making dinners. Pride swelled inside me when she’d lay her arm across my shoulders and say “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

When she discovered that I wrote, she told me to never give up my dream; to never stop, no matter what happened in my life. After I left home, I found out that she bragged to neighbors, to friends, to acquaintances that her daughter was a writer.

At the age of nineteen with my life in turmoil, I returned home and worked with my mother in her home remodeling business. It was during that special time Mom introduced me to her lover. Her lover, a woman and a nurse. I had noticed something different about Mom during the months we had  worked together–her rages and violence had decreased; she laughed more; she drank and drugged less.

Unknown to either my mother or myself, that year I spent working with her was the last year of her life. I am grateful for it allowed me to see the real woman; the woman who could have been had life been kinder. We worked together, and laughed together. And, sometimes, we would have lunch or dinner with her lover. My mother’s eyes shone.

I had never seen my mother’s eyes shine like that.  Love had soothed the wounds in my mother’s soul.

Journey you make

A short blog post can never capture my mother’s journey, nor the strength it took for her to walk it. Here are a few of the footsteps she left behind for others to follow.

–No one is perfect. Just do your best.

–Never give up your dreams.

–Love is a most priceless gift. Don’t let others tell you who to love.

–Joy awaits those whose hearts never stop seeking.

–You’re tough. You can do anything you decide to do.

–Don’t let fear decide your life.

–If you don’t allow yourself to grow and to become, you will have nothing to offer others.

 

 

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Socially Conscious Writer

BookWingsSoar
During this past election we all learned a painful lesson: words are powerful. Words were used to fire the fuels of hatred, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and misogyny. Words shouted loud and often enough besmirched a powerful woman’s career and called into question everything she stood for and everything she had accomplished; they skewed our perspective of Hillary Clinton. Words are powerful.

I learned how powerful words are while sitting at the feet of my mother and grandmother, listening to the oral stories they carried. They transported me to another era, a different culture, a different physical place–a place far different than the ghetto in which we lived. The year of my sixth summer, my maternal, illiterate grandparents presented me the keys to freedom. They talked a Carnegie librarian into teaching me to read and write. Words are powerful.

Words are powerful, especially for those with no voice. I was born with a speech impediment. Combined with that speech difficulty, living in an unpredictable and violent home and neighborhood, I learned that silence often kept me from harm. Even when I started school, I didn’t speak very much. Not talking isolated me from children my own age, and from most other people. Between the pages of books, I met numerous friends, partook of great adventures and traveled to new worlds. Many days, I crawled beneath the concrete city steps that went from our street to the street above and read to my dog. There, in that manmade cave, I shut out the violence that bled all around me. Words are powerful.

Three years after my grandparents helped me learn to read and write, my beloved grandfather was murdered; his killer never discovered. Through pencil and paper, words unclamped the talons of rage and pain that gripped me. I had gained an important weapon to battle the demons in my life. Words are powerful.

My grandfather’s death heralded years of upheaval. Several times during my teen years I arrived at the cliff’s edge of suicide. Each time, I picked up pen and paper and wrote myself back away from that abyss. Books waited to transport me to places far from my despair. Each time I returned from between their covers renewed; stronger. Words are powerful.

During my fourteenth year, cities across the nation erupted in flames and blood. Fired by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and the bus riders, I wrote a seven part series called Racism: America’s Criminal Disease. A black-owned, black-run newspaper ran my article. For the first time in my life, my words reached beyond the circle of my family. The newspaper staff asked to meet me. They shared some of their dreams with me, a fourteen-year-old kid as if I, too, was a warrior for justice. At age sixteen, a mainstream newspaper published an article I wrote entitled The Forgotten Children: A Look at the Child Welfare System. With words I contributed, albeit in a small way, to important changes in our world. Words are powerful.

Fast forward to the present. Words mold our subconscious; and, our subconscious guides our conscious. You are what you read. You are the stories you learned sitting beside your parents; listening to your history teachers. You are the words spit at you in anger; crooned to you in love. You live the images that you read over and over whether those images portray people of your gender, your sexual orientation, your race, your nationality, your religion, in a positive or a negative light. Words are powerful.

Little girls grow up believing they should aspire to be a helpless princess and wait for a knight in tarnished armor to rescue them. Years later they wonder why they are held prisoner in their own lives. Words create the glass ceiling as much as they build the rape culture. Words can shatter the glass ceiling; words can destroy the rape culture. We see it every day, inch by painful inch as people speak out and rip apart the cloak of acceptance and silence. Words are powerful.

Words are my mantra; words are my weapons. I hone them with story plots and characters; with dialogue and narrative. I intend to change the world, book by book, because I know words are powerful.

The first edition of Good Intentions, an award-winning, coming-of-age novel was published in 2002. Not long after it was released, I received an email from a young man who had been adopted. He said my book helped him cope with the pain unwittingly caused by his adoptive parents’ well-intentioned lies about his biological origins. He thanked me for helping him to heal. Words are powerful.

Life intervened in 2003, delaying any further writing as my days became consumed with other obligations, including the care of two elders who lived with my wife and me. In 2012, Dead Men and Cats, a novella about the impact of hate crime on an isolated community, was published. After that the books refused to be ignored; the characters woke me from deep sleep and chattered incessantly until I arose and wrote their lives; told their stories. Words are powerful.

As a socially conscious writer, my first sacred duty is to entertain. The stories of my mother and grandmother first captured my imagination then they grew their morals in the fertile field of my mind. Any storyteller must first entertain her audience or they will walk away. Sketch of a Murder, a Special Crimes Team novel, is an action packed story about a unit of renegade cops who are set the task of stopping a serial killer who murders wealthy men in gruesome fashion. Detective Suzanne Eviston said, “Loving the book! Especially the killer talking in first person.” Words are powerful.

The second sacred obligation of a socially conscious writer is to enlighten, but not in a preachy, in-your-face manner. Every book I write is well-researched. The management of the crime scene I learned from police officers; how fast a house fire burns I learned from a fire fighter; the length of prison terms for women convicted of violent crimes in 1957, I learned from treatises on the prison system. Through character action and interactions with other characters and their environment, I broach the subject of the impact of gender stereotypes on the working of a unit of cops. In Sketch of a Murder, I dismantle the generally accepted image of homeless people through Molly the Pack Lady. Near the end of the book, I explore how some women discover their sexual orientation. Words are powerful.

Empowerment is the third sacred obligation of the socially conscious writer. Words plant the seeds of what we believe we can do; of what we see as life’s possibilities. In Sketch of a Murder, Sergeant Nita Slowater, a mixed-blood Native American, co-leads a team of difficult cops on a case that has stumped three other police departments. In the end, she learns about love and she rescues her superior, Lieutenant Michael Williams. Women are written as complex people. They don’t wait for Prince Charming or Princess Charming to rescue them. They act on their environment; for good or bad, they control their lives; they impact the world in which they live. When a reader closes the cover of Sketch of a Murder, the seed of women as powerful people is planted in their minds. Words are powerful.

In Backlash, another Special Crimes Team novel, successful women are being stalked. They are snatched from their cars, from their homes, from public spaces. Raped, and then discarded and left to die. Yet, these women refuse to curl up and hide in the dark of their houses, in the dark of their minds. They band together, they fight, they learn self-defense, they refuse to be intimidated, they continue to grow and to succeed. It is long past time for women to be celebrated for such strength in the face of terrible adversity; for the strides they have made, not because men allow it, but because women refuse to be stopped. Words are powerful.

Because words are powerful, we can wield them to harm or to encourage. Encouragement is the fourth sacred obligation of a socially conscious writer. On February 14, 2015, I released Hard Road Home, a stand-alone, coming-of-age novel. Eleven-year-old Casanita Redner is battered by life, abused by those who are charged with her care. Yet, she refuses to be a victim; and though she sometimes loses her way, she never gives up. It is a story of terrible abuse and the ultimate triumph of a young woman. Words can encourage us when we are swallowed by the deepest despair. Words are powerful.

As pwindsinspirations says in an Amazon review: “This story brought out emotions in me I had hidden away. I, too, was abused and afraid to tell anyone for fear of only making it worse for myself…. I could feel for Casanita, became her in her search, her struggles. I liked how it took me from despair to triumph and the way the writer brought that about.” Words can release the pain of our pasts; can help us realize we are not alone. Words are powerful.

Denise Beaumont, another Amazon reviewer, said: “A very good read. As a mother of 2 girls, the subject matter is a bit difficult at times. But, in the end, it shows that young women pitted against adversity through no fault of their own can come back strong and live good lives. Is thought provoking and makes me realize there is much that needs to be done in this society to help young people thrive.” Words can enlighten us to issues in our society; issues we can take action to fix. Words are powerful.

Barb Keogan, an Amazon reviewer, said: “Wow….just WOW!!!! This book grabbed me from the very beginning and I could not put it down It’s not often I find a book that keeps me up late because ” I want to read just one more chapter”…..this book did exactly that. The plight of this young woman and what she endured probably happens much more than we would like to even admit. It is hard to read in some places and think that this is a sad reality of our world, even if the book is fiction.” While entertaining the reader, books can open their eyes to a wider world. Words are powerful.

As a socially conscious author, to entertain, to encourage, to enlighten, and to empower women and girls and their allies–this is my sacred obligation. Words are powerful is my mantra.

Short Bio
Aya lives on 12 acres of wildlife/wild bird habitat designed by her and Deva, her wife of 28 years, at the foot of White Horse Mountain. One old red pony, two Papillons and three German Shepherd dogs live with her. When she isn’t chained to her computer by her characters, you’ll find her working on the land, reading, riding her motorcycle, traveling, or visiting with family and friends.

You are invited to connect with Aya at any of her Social Media Hangouts
http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar (FB profile page)
http://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor (FB author page)
http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar
http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar
http://www.twitter.com/BooksRDoorways (book recommendations, reviews, etc. for women and girls and LGBTQ positive books)
http://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan (a social action site)
http://www.twitter.com/2getherWomenCan (companion to FB book page Together Women Can)
stairway to the heavens

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The Story Behind Sketch of a Murder

No matter how dark
In 2013, I wrote Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team. I write novels that have been ripped from the lives of women.
Sketch of a Murder exposes the horrendous truths around the #sexual #assault of women and children in the United States. Perpetrators often walk away from prosecution and justice.Even those who are convicted may only serve three years for forcible rape.
Many victims do not report sexual assault.
–They fear the perpetrator will return and harm them. Something that perpetrators often threaten to do.
–The victim does not want to make a private matter public. This is especially true if the perpetrator is a boyfriend, a husband or ex-husband, even someone they simply met and had a drink with.
–The victim is worried that she will be blamed for what happened or that she will not be believed. This is frequently the case when victims actually follow through with prosecution. They are questioned about their sexual histories, why they were in that particular place at that specific time, and so forth. Some cops grill women and girls who report rape in much the same aggressive and offensive manner. Women are often told it is their own fault that they were assaulted.
–The girl or woman feels ashamed and/or feels guilty and/or is embarrassed. A strong element of personal shame, guilt and embarrassment for the victim is a factor in every sexual assault crime.
There have even been public debates about whether the crime of #rape actually exists or if it is an “attempt by women and girls to gain special privileges.”
As a past victim of the violence of attempted rape–12 attempts during my life–I understand the well-founded hesitation of women and girls to subject themselves to the process of attempting to prosecute the perpetrator.
One of the attempts on me included the perpetrator’s use of a straight razor. When I reported that crime, the police took me to the station and after leaving me to “stew” in a room alone they finally came in and aggressively questioned what I had been doing walking around alone after dark.
I finally lashed out and told one detective that “I have the right to walk where and when I please; the attempted rapist is the one who should not be allowed freedom to walk around the city.”
In response to my declaration, one detective openly questioned whether or not a crime had actually occurred.
I held up my hand and sarcastically said, “I’m not into self-mutilation. I did not slash my own hand open.”
Is it any wonder that rape is the most UNDER reported crime in the United States?
In Sketch of a Murder, I bring these stats to life. The Avenger, a serial killer who stalks and tortures men who have skated justice, sets up a Court of God’s Justice and questions the men about their crimes and then hands down “justice”.
The “reasoning” put forth by the perpetrators is, unfortunately, all too indicative of the thought processes of males involved in rape. In my other life, I have listened to such men give those arguments about how it’s not their fault and besides, the girl/woman “asked for it.” (Yes, those were the words used by one man).
And what of law enforcement–the real good people; the ones who want the rapists to pay for their crimes? In Sketch of a Murder I explore the dilemma faced by law enforcement officers who must stop a killer whose mission they may secretly applaud.
Just to give you some idea about the enormity of the crime of rape below are some statistics. Please,keep in mind that rape is a seriously UNDER REPORTED crime:
—67% of sexual assault victims are under 18. More than half of this number are under 12 years old.
—95% of rapists are male
In the state of Washington, First Degree Rape is considered a Class A Felony–the worst felony possible under law, yet a rapist may only get three years in prison for forcibly raping a woman or a child. A person is guilty of First Degree rape when such a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person by forcible compulsion where the perpetrator or an accessory:
—uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon or what appears to be a deadly weapon or
—kidnaps the victim or
—inflicts serious physical injury including but not limited to physical injury which renders the victim unconscious or
—feloniously enters into a building or vehicle where the victim is situated.
In Washington State, a rapist who is convicted of Class A Felony rape may sue for and receive access to the any child produced by his violent act; thereby allowing him future access to his victim’s life, and a future way to manipulate, control, and emotionally and physically harm his victim.
In Washington State in 2013 there were 13,442 primary victims of sexual assault and 6,252 secondary assault victims.
33% of women in Washington State have been sexually assaulted. And, 20% of this number have been the victims of multiple assaults by different offenders.
Only 25% of the women who suffered physical injuries sought medical assistance and only 33% sought counseling. (I was never one of those who sought medical assistance or counseling. I simply could not afford it. Fortunately, I was raised in a matriarch where rape was considered a crime of violence–rightfully so–and the rapist was the only one blamed.)
Somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 MINUTES
43% of lesbian and bisexual women, and 30% of gay and bisexual men reported having experienced sexual assault.
34% of Native American and Alaskan Native women experienced an attempted or completed rape
19% of African American women have experienced an attempted or completed rape
18% of Caucasian women have experienced an attempted or completed rape
7% of Asian American women have experienced an attempted or completed rape
83% of adult females and 32% of the adult males who are developmentally disabled have been victims of sexual assault
Disabled women are raped and abused at a rate of at least twice that of the general population of women.
light in darkness

IF you or someone you know has suffered from sexual assault, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! PLEASE go to: http://www.wcsap.org/find-help This website is the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs. You will find a list of places to go to for help! PLEASE, make use of these services.
creator's child

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IT’S ABOUT TIME!

In 1988, I came out of the Closet. Not only did I come out, I blew the damn thing up!

The year started quietly enough–I had a nice home, decent furniture with a few antique pieces I’d refinished, rode horses with my friend of four years, and attended college to become a veterinarian. As the year progressed, that seeming normalcy shattered. My friend and I became an intimate couple–in the Deep South, in 1988.

Now, I’d always enjoyed my friend’s family as I didn’t have one of my own–big Sunday gatherings and lots of visiting back and forth–right up until I learned about the herd of pink elephants stampeding through her life. Suffice it to say that her family did not take her sexual orientation well. Her mother, a fundamentalist Christian, was certain that her daughter would go to Hell–and that was only because my friend had decided to divorce her abusive husband. With that reaction in mind, we didn’t apprise her of the change in sexual orientation. If it had only been her mother, we might have stayed and tried to work it through, but other family members felt that the use of violence would realign her orientation and wipe away her desire for a divorce.

Faced with a choice of using violence to counter extreme violence, in a state where a man could with impunity beat his wife but heaven help the woman who fought back–prison, psych wards and increased violence against such a woman–we decided to leave the state.

light in darkness

She left everything she had worked over eleven years to help accumulate including her beloved horses; walked away from a Bachelor’s of Science degree that lacked one quarter to complete, and packed what she could in an old cedar chest and a used van. I, too, walked away from home, material possessions that couldn’t fit in a couple of cardboard cartons and the van, my horses (we arranged with a supportive friend to come and get all of the horses and rehome them), and my dream of becoming a veterinarian.

We crossed the country with her old German Shepherd dog and my Pit Bull, driving for hours to exit the state and begin to feel a little bit safe. California was filled with crowds and congested cities, so we continued traveling, stopping here and there to find work, always labor and always paid in cash. We parked in rest areas and slept in the van; sometimes, awakened by the pounding of a night stick on the metal side and the order to move on. We bathed in sinks in the rest area bathrooms, in a bucket inside the van, and every once in a while, at a mission. The women there, waiting in line for their turn at the showers, frequently let us go ahead of them so we could get back on the road.

Oregon felt decidedly unsafe. A few weeks before a young gay man had been severely beaten on an Oregon college campus. Work on a couple of horse farms and a sheep farm and eventually a donut shop got us enough money to head for the state of Washington.

Years earlier, I had lived in Washington before I moved to the South. The memories of Western Washington held the promise of diversity and, perhaps, even acceptance and safety. Funny how having been heterosexual during my earlier sojourn in the state had drastically impacted my life; things had changed and not just my sexual orientation. Washington was, indeed, more tolerant than the Deep South–usually–if you were careful where you went–if you stayed aware of potential attackers around you–if you could find a landlord/landlady willing to rent to a couple of lesbos–if you could find a job where your sexual orientation didn’t matter if you could do the work—if, if, if……

Even on Capitol Hill in Seattle, LGBTQ Land, lesbians were waylaid, stalked, beaten, raped for being lesbian, and sometimes for just being female. It became difficult to tell which was the greater crime. We turned our anger to action and joined with other lesbians in an effort to change the world, or at least our little corner of it.

Over time, we found a wonderful landlady and worked temp labor at Labor Ready where they didn’t care if you were an omni-sexual purple alien; we reconnected with some friends of mine and made new friends, and we enrolled in college again, though not on our original track of studies. Slowly, we rebuilt our shattered lives.

My wife and I have been life partners for over twenty-six years, now. In spite of the sorrow and pain we endured, we grew closer to each other, strengthened each other, and have never rebuilt our Closets. It is heartening to finally have the vindication of the Supreme Court decision. Our marriage is, at last, legal in all fifty states.

No matter how dark

Will the Supreme Court decision make it easier to come out? For some, yes, but those are the fortunate ones. Those types of families and friends; co-workers and professors, are becoming more and more common. Yet still for some lesbians the day they step from the Closet, they will face violence, and ostracism from those closest to them.

There is still a lot of work to do.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html?_r=0

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5 REASONS TO NOT ‘#BE #YOURSELF’

somewhere dif Good Intentions

We hear a lot of advice to ‘just be yourself’. As an author, I am frequently admonished to ‘be yourself’ on social media; ‘be yourself’ in your writing; ‘be yourself’ when you meet fans.

That is terrible advice, and here’s why:

  1. Like most vague advice, no one bothers to define ‘be yourself’.
  2. ‘Be yourself’ seems to indicate that you don’t need to improve. Whatever you are, is good enough. What if I don’t want to be just ‘good enough’?
  3. ‘Be yourself’ can lead to stagnation. To what stage/phase of my life does ‘be yourself’ pertain? Should I be the growing up ‘self’? That ‘self’ exuded violence in a violent world. What about the ‘self’ that lived on the road, angry and disillusioned? Throughout a person’s life we have many ‘selves’, many phases of growth.
  4. ‘Be yourself’ can lead to a position of no compromise. If I cling to being myself, I may not be willing to compromise with others when being myself may clash with them being themselves.
  5. ‘Be yourself’ may be great advice when you know who you are, but life is about discovery–the discovery of who I was, who I am and who I am becoming.

People say what they mean by ‘be yourself’ is ‘don’t try to be someone you’re not.’ To me, it is important to ‘try on’ different ways of being. I will always try to be someone I am not because I will always try to grow into someone whom I admire; I will always try to reach out and learn and grow. I can’t ‘be myself’ because I am simply too busy becoming the best that I can be.

I much prefer the advice to ‘be authentic’. Whether in my life or in my writing, I strive for authenticity–for being real. When I write of anger or love, hate or admiration, being hungry or feeling on top of the world, I am sharing an authentic part of myself with my readers.

What does ‘be yourself’ mean to you? Would love to hear!

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#FEMINIST #EROTICA: IS IT REALLY GOOD FOR WOMEN?

Feminist Erotica?

Today I am #interviewing Diana Persaud, author of Lucien’s Mate, an erotica novella. I have asked her to talk about what she terms ‘feminist erotica’ and why she writes it.

As my readers know, I support strong women, women who face challenges and make tough decisions. All too often in the past erotica has been more of a man’s fantasy and has revolved around the submission and humiliation of women, or at the very least, had reduced women to parts such as breasts and vaginas to be used and abused.

However, as an author, a feminist, a lesbian and a woman, I would be remiss not to explore what current erotica presents to its audience.  Of course, my question is always: does this celebrate women and their lives, their sexuality or is it simply another mask for presenting women as disposable chattel?

Let’s hear what author Diana Persaud says:

“Feminist erotica. An oxymoron? Not necessarily. The general idea behind feminism is that women and men are equals. Unfortunately, in our society, men are allowed to be sexual yet women are not. We are taught to be ashamed of our bodies and called names if we embrace our sexuality. In the name of feminism, I urge you to stand for your rights. Embrace your sexuality. Be proud of your bodies, no matter what the shape. Don’t listen to the media. They prey on women, making us feel insecure about everything from our physical looks to our sexuality.

You would be very shocked to discover that this #erotica author is pretty conservative. Yet I have embraced my sexuality. I enjoy sex. Often. I have multiple orgasms 99% of the time. If you label me a slut or a whore, you’re about to be shamed. The only partner I ever had is my husband. Frankly, for me, it’s incredibly arousing to know that he is the only one that’s ever touched me intimately. It didn’t matter to him at first but now I think it’s arousing for him as well.

Embracing our sexuality means discovering the things that arouse us. Are you visual? Do you like to watch? Or do you prefer to use your imagination and read? Do you prefer vanilla sex or are you more curious about taboo subjects?

Given the popularity of the 50 Shades series, it seems that a lot of women are now interested in the BDSM lifestyle. I applaud sexual curiosity, but I caution, the fantasy is sometimes better than reality. A long time ago, I asked my then boyfriend to engage in a little light bondage. The moment my hands were bound, I began to think: What have I done? I’m completely helpless and at his mercy. He could kill me or rape me. What if he wants to try something sexual I’m not ready for? I’m not exactly in a position to say no. After about thirty seconds of panic, I asked him to untie me. I was so relieved when he did. I learned a few things about myself. One, I was very naïve. I also realized that it’s ok to satisfy sexual curiositybut only with someone you trust. Obviously, at that particular moment, I didn’t trust him fully.

In my journey to discovering and embracing my sexuality, I discovered erotica. There are so many subgenres, I’m sure there is something for everyone. Almost a decade later, I am writing erotic and I would classify it as feminist erotica because my females are strong women who stand up for themselves. Some might be more submissive than others, but they are not doormats. My main characters treat each other with respect, even if one is more dominant than the other.

In my newest novella, Isabella’s Dilemma, Isabella faces a choice that most women eventually face: housewife or career?

Isabella is a Soldier. In her culture, this is simply not done. Her father expects her to be a housewife. Incidentally, her soul mate has the same expectations. Izzy has to decide which is more important: being a “good” mate an giving up her career to raise (future) children or sacrifice her love life so she can focus on her career. She faces an extreme choice.

Real women make these choices with varying degrees of compromise. Some women stay at home and once their children are old enough, they return to work. Some chose to be a “housewife” permanently while others remain childless and focus solely on their careers, like Oprah.

The wonderful thing about feminism is that we have a choice. We can choose to be full time or part time house wives. We can also choose not to be a housewife. The choice is entirely ours. So embrace your sexuality and read an erotic novella. I hope you will check out Isabella’s Dilemma and see if she made the right choice for her.

~Diana”

One interview cannot change my mind, but Diana has presented some thoughts to allow for exploration of the concept of feminist erotica.  PLEASE remember, that the beliefs expressed in the interview belong to Diana Persaud and do not speak for the author of this blog, Aya Walksfar.

If you wish to learn more about Diana Persaud….

Connect with Diana: www.facebook.com/diana.persaud.146

Blog: http://dianapersaud1.wordpress.com/

Follow Diana on Twitter @LuciensMate to receive tweets about Giveaways and New Releases. Don’t forget to check out her webpage dedicated to Lucien and his pack, dianapersaud.weebly.com.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7314263.DianaPersaud

Discover Diana’s eBooks on:

Amazon.com/Diana-Persaud/e/B00FPOAEAM

Apple: log in with your iTunes account and search Diana Persaud

http://ca.axis360.baker-taylor.com

Barnes and Noble:  Go to Barnes and Noble then search for Lucien’s Mate by Diana Persaud

http://search.dieselbooks.com/index.php?page=seek&id%5Bm%5D=&id%5Bc%5D=scope%253Dinventory&id%5Bq%5D=diana+persaud

Kobo

Smashwords  http://www.smashwords.com/author/dianapersaud

Sony (this site is slow to update new releases)

Don’t miss exciting new posts!  CLICK AND FOLLOW! Every week brings new thoughts and explorations into the world of the mind and soul!

Connect with Aya on facebook and see the awesome VIDEOS and other postings at http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar

Have you heard the latest about the heart-breaking case the Special Crimes Team faces now? If not, go to http://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor and check out the updates for Street Harvest, Book 2, Special Crimes Team. COMING SOON! TO BE RELEASED FEBRUARY 21st! Watch for this exciting mystery to become available on Amazon.

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