What’s standing in your way of becoming the person you want to be? Is it society? Is it family? So-called friends? Or maybe even yourself, your own fears?
All my life I’ve been surrounded by women going out and getting things done, becoming people they want to be and facing down external challenges that said they couldn’t or shouldn’t. My grandmother was the first woman to receive a Masters degree in physics issued by Louisiana State University in 1938. My mother grew up an activist for civil rights in the 1960s. My grandmother worked through World War II for the government developing a demagnetizing process for ships to be able to safely navigate mine-laden waters. My mother went to battle for African-American civil rights and landed in jail several times.
Far more introverted than my mother or grandmother, I’ve tried to fight for equality with the power of my pen. For my first novel, Brenna Lanigan and Cassidy Hyland were born partly out of a desire to show how straight and LGBT relationships are the same. (Hurray for the Supreme Court recognizing same in striking down DOMA!)
From Turning Point, here is an excerpt. As you read, I hope you’ll see yourself. Straight or gay, we’ve all been here. Cassidy is wishing Brenna, a co-star actress who won’t even give her the time of day, will come to her son’s birthday party. Then, suddenly, Brenna is there. And the tongue-tied stumbling ensues.
There was a light tap on the window separating the kitchen from the screen porch. Cassidy looked up to see her neighbor, Gwen Talbot, mouthing the word, “Cake?”
Realizing she was holding up things over a clearly false hope, Cassidy put down the tray of juice cups and turned to a nearby drawer to withdraw the cake knife.
“Can I carry something?”
Startled by the warm, rich voice that reminded her of smoky jazz clubs, Cassidy spun, knife still in hand. “Brenna?”
“Um, hi. Rich let me in.” Brenna backed up and gestured toward Paulson, just closing the refrigerator door, beer in hand. “I hope I’m not too late.”
With a tap of the bottle’s neck to his receding hairline, a twinkle in his brown eyes, and a grin in salute, Rich was gone. Cassidy took the opportunity to watch him go and spend the few seconds collecting herself. Lowering the knife, she took a step back and slowly turned to Brenna.
Brenna Lanigan, swirls of gray in otherwise midnight blue eyes, was a beautiful, petite woman. She had brown hair pulled back in a low ponytail, but if Cassidy wasn’t mistaken, the red highlighting was from the woman’s Irish-American heritage, natural, rather than from a bottle. She had always appreciated genetics over Hollywood facade.
Taking in the other woman’s attire, she was pleased Brenna had understood this was an informal party. She wore a sweatshirt with cropped sleeves bearing a New York University logo. One smooth, slender hand rested against the kitchen’s island countertop. The fingertips of Brenna’s other hand were tucked into the front pocket of figure-hugging, stone-washed jeans. “You look like you had a good night’s sleep.”
“I…yes, I did. Thank you.”
The woman displayed a slow, surprised smile that Cassidy appreciated after being served up a year of cold shoulder. Perhaps this could be the start of a change between them. “You’re just in time for cake,” she said genially. She recalled the woman’s two teenage sons. “Did Thomas and James come with you?”
“I had to start them cleaning the gutters,” Brenna replied.
“Is that a normal chore?”
Brenna shook her head. “Punishment. They missed curfew last night.”
Cassidy absorbed the information with surprise. “That’s pretty rough. Didn’t you miss any curfews as a teen?” Brenna frowned at her. Oops, too familiar, Cassidy thought. In an attempt to recover the situation, she pointed to the kitchen doorway. “Um, cake?”
Brenna gestured for Cassidy to go first, then picked up the tray of juice cups and followed.
There are many obstacles, both internal and external, to Cass and Bren’s journeys. But it is each woman’s inner strength that allows her to transform and accept a love that is, for the first time, wholly real and not a Hollywood facade.