To celebrate, I made myself an LGBTA sandwich–the same type of sandwich that Leo makes for Holly in my latest lesbian romance novel Perfect Rhythm. Holly had come out to Leo as asexual in a previous scene, so Leo is trying to show her acceptance by preparing a special picnic for her.
Here’s a short excerpt from Perfect Rhythm that explains what an LGBTA sandwich is:
Leo tugged Holly down next to her in the middle of the blanket and began to unpack and open containers. Soon, they were surrounded by tomato-mozzarella skewers, grapes, different cheeses, olives, potato salad, fruit salad, French bread, BLT sandwiches, scones, and cookies.
“I think I have everything the heart desires.” Leo presented her bounty with a proud sweep of her hand. “What would you like?”
That was a loaded question. Her heart desired more than what was offered on this blanket. Do it. Do it now. “Leo…”
“Look, I even have LGBTA sandwiches.” Leo held out one of the BLT sandwiches.
For a moment, Holly let herself be distracted from the inevitable. “You mean BLT sandwiches, right?”
“Nope. This is an LGBTA sandwich. It’s got lettuce, garlic mayo, bacon, tomato, and avocado slices. I wanted to make it an LGBTQIA sandwich, but I couldn’t find any ingredients starting with Q or I.” Leo shrugged. “But at least it’s got the A, so it’s an asexual-inclusive sandwich.”
It tastes great, so give it a try!
And if you can think of any sandwich ingredients starting with the letters Q or I, let me know!
For me, it was an eye-opening experience. I grew up in a tiny little town, with no openly lesbian, bisexual, or gay people around. Discovering lesbian fiction made me feel that I wasn’t alone—I wasn’t “abnormal.” There were other people just like me out there. I was like a little kid in a candy store and started to devour every lesbian book I could get my hands on. Thankfully, by then, it was the late ’90s, so there were plenty of novels for me to read.
However, it wasn’t that long ago that lesbian and bisexual women had a hard time finding characters resembling themselves anywhere. There was barely any representation in fiction and movies.
Asexual people are where lesbians and gay people were decades ago. When I first started doing research for Perfect Rhythm, I couldn’t find a single romance novel featuring an asexual woman. There were a couple of m/m romances with characters on the asexual spectrum, but none about women who identify as asexual. Considering asexual people make up at least 1% of the population, I found that pretty astonishing.
It means that more than 75 million people worldwide grow up not seeing themselves and their sexual orientation reflected in books at all! They might not even be aware that not experiencing sexual attraction is a sexual orientation. Many of them—like Holly Drummond in my novel Perfect Rhythm—grow up feeling as if there’s something wrong with them.
That’s precisely why I wrote Perfect Rhythm. I hope the novel can give some visibility to people on the asexual spectrum and help them not feel so left out, misunderstood, or less than normal. I also hope it will help non-asexual readers understand this “invisible” and little-known sexual orientation better—maybe even help them understand their own sexuality better.
The first reviews and responses from readers indicate that I seem to have succeeded in what I set out to do. I have received a dozen e-mails from readers who had never heard of asexuality before reading Perfect Rhythm and who now realize they are on the asexual spectrum. I also heard from asexual readers who were happy to finally see themselves represented in a book.
Let me quote from a reader review that really touched me:
I was so excited for this book to come out because I am an asexual lesbian (like Holly). The few books with ace characters I’ve been able to find are largely based in fantasy worlds or science fiction. Which is fine, but those aren’t generally my genres of choice. (And also when the only time you see people like you is when they’re aliens from outer space, it’s hard not to feel like an alien from outer space…)
Inadvertently, I had the bar set exceedingly high for this book and Jae no only met those expectations, she knocked them out of the park!
I can not tell you how much this book means to me, how much it means to me to be able to read a book about a character like me. […] It was so so great to have that representation for once!
This book is the best! And reading it made me feel a lot less alone in the world, which is something that I really need sometimes. It means so much to me, and I am indescribably happy that it exists!
If you’d like to read Perfect Rhythm, you can find the book here:
Perfect Rhythm is the story of Leontyne “Leo” Blake, a burned-out pop star who returns to her tiny hometown and gets to know her father’s nurse, Holly. In this scene, Leo has asked Holly out.
Read on to see what happens…
“I’m sorry. I can’t go out with you,” Holly said.
A flash of hurt crossed Leo’s face before it turned into the reserved mask Holly had seen in the beginning. “Can’t?” She sounded as if she was speaking through clenched teeth. “Or don’t want to?”
That was a question Holly didn’t want to examine too closely. “I’m sorry,” she said again. “I know it sounds trite, but it’s not you. It’s me.”
Leo let out a groan. “That is trite. It’s usually what women say when they’re either straight or think I’m a conceited, shallow celebrity—someone to lust after from afar, not someone to date for real.”
Her voice got rougher with every word.
Impulsively, Holly reached out to squeeze her hand or put it on Leo’s knee but then realized it would send mixed messages, so she withdrew and put her hand in her own lap. “I don’t think that about you. You know that, right?”
“But you’re not straight. You do date women.”
“I don’t date anyone. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.”
A frown wrinkled Leo’s brow. “Don’t tell me you’re still hung up on Ashley.”
Holly barked out a nervous laugh. “No. Definitely not.”
“Then it really is me.” Leo lowered her gaze to a tuft of clover. “I’m not your type.”
“That’s just it, Leo. I don’t have a type. At least not the way you think.”
“Okay.” Leo drew out the word in a way that made it obvious that she had no clue what Holly meant.
Holly sighed. Coming out as asexual hadn’t been on her list of relaxing things to do on her afternoon off, but she didn’t want a rejection to stand between them. She had come to appreciate their friendship too much to lie, even by omission.
Eating the remainder of her ice cream gave her a moment to collect herself. When the last crumb of cone was gone, she clutched her bare legs to her chest and gazed at Leo over her drawn-up knees. God, why was this so much harder than coming out as a lesbian?
Finally, she just blurted it out. “I’m ace.”
She wasn’t sure what response she had expected, but certainly not the crooked grin that spread across Leo’s face.
“Oh yeah,” Leo drawled with the husky voice that had won her three Grammys. “You sure are. Totally awesome.”
“No, I mean, I’m asexual.”
“Asexual?” Leo repeated it syllable by syllable. “What does that mean?”
Oh boy. Maybe that was what made coming out as asexual so much harder. Telling someone she was a lesbian didn’t require a half-hour education session.
“It means…” She glanced down and watched as she turned the black ace ring around and around on her right middle finger. “It means that I’m not sexually attracted to anyone.”
Leo stared at her, the last bit of ice cream cone apparently forgotten in her hand. “Wait… Are you saying you don’t like sex?”
“Not exactly. I’m saying I don’t want sex.”
A gust of air escaped Leo’s lungs in an audible puff. “You don’t want sex? Never? With anyone?”
The look of disbelief on her face made Holly laugh. “There are more important things in life, you know?”
“Yeah, but when it’s really good, sex can be mind-blowing.” She rolled her eyes skyward and fanned herself with both hands.
“I’ll have to take your word for it.”
If you’d like to read Perfect Rhythm, you can find the book here:
Happy Coming Out Day, everyone!
Perfect Rhythm is the story of burned-out popstar Leontyne “Leo” Blake, who reluctantly returns to her tiny hometown in Missouri when she finds out her father had a stroke. Once there, she meets Holly, her father’s nurse. At first, they don’t even like each other. Holly is convinced that Leo is a spoiled celebrity, while small-town girl Holly seems to represent everything Leo has wanted to leave behind.
The more time they spend together, the more they realize how wrong that first impression has been. Between trips to the local bakery store, late-night conversations up on the roof, and a date at the vet’s office, they start to fall in love with each other.
But Holly is asexual. Leo isn’t even sure what that means, much less what it means for them. And Holly isn’t sure she should risk her heart again because her last relationship didn’t end too well.
Will they find the perfect rhythm with each other, despite their differences?
Readers and reviewers alike seem to love it! Here’s what they are saying:
Get your copy of Perfect Rhythm here:
Enjoy and let me know what you think!
It’s the end of July and I’m back from Chicago, where I attended the GCLS conference for readers and writers of lesbian fiction. I also wrapped up the final proofreading of my upcoming romance novel Perfect Rhythm, and I thought I’d give you a sneak peek.
The novel features two very interesting main characters: Leo, who’s a lesbian pop star known to the world as Jenna Blake, and Holly, who’s a home-healthcare nurse and identifies as asexual.
So here’s the sneak peek:
Holly wandered into the living room.
Leo sat in her father’s easy chair, her eyes closed and her fingers moving to the rhythm of music only she could hear. Just as Holly was about to tiptoe out, Leo opened her eyes.
An instant smile formed on her lips. “Hey. Are you done adulting?”
Holly chuckled. “Just for the moment. The physical therapist is with your father.” She walked over to the piano bench, which was the seat closest to Leo’s easy chair, and sat down.
Leo tilted her head to the side and studied her. “You look good there. Do you play?”
“Oh God, no. I wouldn’t call it that.”
“So you do play? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Holly scrunched up her face. “Because it’s embarrassing. The only thing I can play is one piece.”
Holly hummed it.
“Ah. Czerny’s Study in C Major,” Leo said. “Okay, let’s play that.”
“Um, I thought you didn’t want to play classical music?”
Leo smiled. “I’ll make an exception just this once.” She came over and motioned at her to slide to the side so she could sit next to her.
It felt nice and warm to have her so close, but playing the piano with her was like painting in front of Pablo Picasso when you could barely draw a stick figure. “I don’t know about this.”
“Come on.” Leo bumped her with her shoulder, bringing their bodies into even closer contact. “Dad is busy with PT. It’s just the two of us here.”
“Yeah, but one of us is musical genius Jenna Blake.”
“No,” Leo said very seriously and turned a little on the bench to look into her eyes. “One of us is Leo, not Jenna.”
“Right. You know you’re Leo to me.”
Instead of answering, Leo stared at something farther down.
When Holly followed her gaze, she realized she’d put her hand on Leo’s leg, probably to reassure her. It felt natural. But jeez, talk about sending mixed signals.
Before she could snatch her hand away, Leo covered it with her own and squeezed gently. “Ready?”
Holly swallowed. “All right. Let’s play.”
Leo opened the lid with the hand that wasn’t still covering Holly’s. “How about I play the left hand, and you play the right?”
“Remember where to put your fingers?”
“I think so.” She placed her fingers on the keys.
Leo finally took her hand away from Holly’s and stroked her fingertips over the hand resting on the piano, from wrist to knuckles. “Relax,” she said softly. “Focus on how the keys feel under your fingers.”
The last thing Holly was focused on at the moment was the piano. Sharing this with Leo was too confusing. There was something between them; she couldn’t deny that. She felt drawn to Leo in a way that might have seemed almost sexual to an observer, but to her, it wasn’t about sex. This was all about emotion.
Leo shuffled through her father’s sheet music, found the right one, and placed it in front of them.
Holly took a deep breath and then haltingly began to play the first notes, stumbling through the piece. God, this was awful. Her tempo was all off, and she had the dynamics of a robot.
Next to her, Leo’s fingers moved gracefully and without effort. It looked as if it came as easy to her as breathing. Wow. No wonder women were swooning when they watched Leo’s long fingers caress the neck of her guitar during concerts. If she weren’t asexual, she probably would too. As it was, her fantasies ended at those talented fingers giving her a massage or caressing her tenderly. Other people might have considered it foreplay, but for her it was the main course, an experience that was sensual rather than sexual.
Holly was so focused on watching Leo that she stopped her own playing.
Leo paused too and looked at her.
“Sorry,” Holly said. “I told you I’m not good at this.”
“Then let’s play it slower. Want to try playing the left hand, and I take over the right-hand melody?”
Holly nodded and started to get up to switch sides, but Leo just guided her hand to the correct keys and then reached across Holly’s arm to the piano’s right side. Their forearms touched each other lightly, but Holly didn’t feel crowded. It actually felt…nice.
They started from the beginning, and this time, Holly played without pausing. She had to admit it didn’t sound too bad.
When the last notes faded away, they both left their hands where they were for a little longer.
“Who taught you?” Leo asked as she finally put her hands on her lap.
Holly withdrew too. “Your father.”
Leo’s head swiveled around. “My father?”
“Yeah. You’d think I’d play a little better with him as my teacher, right?” Holly laughed. “He tried to teach me while he was recovering from his first stroke, but I’m hopeless. No matter how much I practiced, I could never coordinate playing with both hands and the pedal.”
“I bet that didn’t go over too well. After all, if you’re not a perfect student, it means he’s not the perfect teacher he thinks he is, right?”
“Actually, he took it pretty well.”
“Are we talking about the same man?” Leo asked. “When I was eight, my mother had to intervene because he wouldn’t let me stop practicing until I got one of Liszt’s pieces right.”
“I guess it’s different with you.”
“Yeah.” The one word dripped with bitterness.
“Maybe it’s because you’re his daughter, and he cares about you,” Holly said softly.
Leo snorted. “He’s got a funny way of showing it.”
Holly didn’t know what to say to that, so she just slid even closer on the piano bench and put one arm around her hip. “He probably never learned how to show it. But that’s his deficit, not yours. It doesn’t mean you’re not lovable.”
That last word hung between them as Leo slowly turned her head and looked at her.
Their closeness suddenly made Holly a little nervous, but at the same time, she didn’t want to move away from Leo’s warmth. This close, she could make out the brown flecks in her olive-green eyes. The bitterness in them from before was gone, and now they held only—
A discreet clearing of someone’s throat made them both jump.
So, what do you think? Does that sound interesting?
Perfect Rhythm will be out in September. To find out more about it, click here.
The winner of a signed paperback copy of Falling Hard is:
Mieke, please send me an e-mail with your address so that I know where to send the paperback.
Everyone else, I hope you have better luck next time! I do regular giveaways, so make sure you check back or subscribe to my newsletter.
And, of course, if you’d still like to have a paperback copy of Falling Hard, you can get one here.
I just realized that my latest lesbian romance novel, Falling Hard, has been out for a month, and I still haven’t done a giveaway!
Well, I’m about to remedy that.
Falling Hard is a contemporary romance in which a womanizing surgeon–the charming Jordan that you might already know from Heart Trouble–falls in love with the single mother of a five-year-old.
If that sounds like a novel you’d like to read and you would like to win a signed paperback copy, please leave a comment and I’ll enter you into the drawing.
Make sure you check back soon to find out if you won—or sign up to my newsletter so you won’t miss it. All you have to do is to enter your e-mail address into the box in the right-hand menu and click “subscribe.”
One of the main characters is Dr. Jordan Williams. Those of you who have read Heart Trouble might remember her as Hope’s best friend. She’s a surgeon with just two goals in life: saving patients in the OR and pleasuring her latest conquest in the bedroom.
Her new neighbor, single mother Emma, couldn’t be more different. After her recent divorce, she plans to focus just on her five-year-old daughter.
Neither of them counts on falling hard for each other.
If a slow-burn romance with entertaining banter, lovable characters, and a stuffed lion named Mouse sounds interesting to you, check out Falling Hard.
I hope you enjoy the book and have a great rest of the week!
To celebrate, Ylva Publishing is rolling out the red carpet and offering my Hollywood series at a reduced price.
Each book can stand on its own and has different main characters:
Departure from the Script is a novella (short novel) about Amanda, an actress who struggles to get her career off the ground. At an anti-Valentine’s party, she meets butch photographer Michelle. She has never been attracted to butch women before, but Michelle has her consider a departure from her dating script.
Damage Control is a slow-burn romance in which world-famous actress Grace is caught in a seemingly compromising situation with another woman. She hires PR expert Lauren to convince the world that she’s straight. But for that plan to succeed, she really shouldn’t fall in love with her…
Just Physical stars spunky actress Jill who has taken herself off the romantic market after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At the set of a disaster movie, she meets stuntwoman “Crash.” Despite their growing feelings, Jill is determined to let Crash into her bed, but not her heart.
“Dress-Tease” is a short story that shows a sexy moment between Grace and Lauren from Damage Control.
You can get these books at a reduced price at the Ylva webstore this weekend.
I hope you enjoy the books and the Oscar ceremony!
I spent the last weeks of December on vacation at a lovely beach with gorgeous weather, so I only now took a look at my December numbers.
Here’s what I’ve been up to in the last month of 2016:
I got the edits back for my latest novel, Falling Hard, which is a medical romance between an interracial couple. Luckily, there wasn’t that much that needed to be changed, so the manuscript is now with my publisher, and all looks good for a publication at the beginning of April.
At the moment, I’m already working on translating Falling Hard into German so that my German readers don’t have to wait so long to be able to read the novel too.
This is what my numbers looked like in 2016:
|Fiction Writing||Editing||Research||Nonfiction Writing||Marketing & Administration||TOTAL|
|2016 - TOTAL||1,256 hours||778 hours||312 hours||187 hours||323 hours||2,856 hours|
|January||100 hours||66 hours||24 hours||46 hours||15 hours||251 hours|
|February||144 hours||74 hours||43 hours||1 hour||19 hours||281 hours|
|March||65 hours||80 hours||95 hours||---||13 hours||253 hours|
|April||116 hours||87 hours||26 hours||---||11 hours||240 hours|
|May||136 hours||54 hours||---||79 hours||14 hours||283 hours|
|June||108 hours||101 hours||---||4 hours||21 hours||234 hours|
|July||67 hours||66 hours||---||46 hours||36 hours||215 hours|
|August||48 hours||80 hours||78 hours||11 hours||68 hours||285 hours|
|September||149 hours||49 hours||46 hours||---||13 hours||257 hours|
|October||162 hours||41 hours||---||---||18 hours||221 hours|
|November||83 hours||53 hours||---||---||27 hours||163 hours|
|December||78 hours||27 hours||---||---||68 hours||173 hours|
As you can see, I spent a lot of time on “admin stuff” in December. That’s because I sat down and made plans for 2017, 2018, and 2019.
In publishing, you have to plan ahead and set deadlines because you have to book editors, cover artists, and proofreaders ahead of time. So I have to give my publisher an idea of which manuscript to expect from me and when. I already have a pretty good idea what my novels for the next three years will be. Among other things, I’m planning a sequel for the Portland Police Bureau series (Conflict of Interest and Next of Kin) and a continuation of my shape-shifter series (Second Nature and True Nature). There will also be contemporary romances that won’t be part of a series. So I’m hoping to have something new out for each of my readers.
I’m wishing you a 2017 with a lot of happiness, laughter, and good reading material!
Created by Krystel Contreras & Jorge Courbis