It’s been ten years

You’ve told me you love me 365000 times.

Probably more than that. Some days you say it more than once.

Does that seem about right my love?

“I love you.”

There. That’s 365001.

 


For my wife <3.

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Summer…

What can I do now? What can I do to keep every single moment in my mind forever?

How is it possible that Daniella (my student assistant) and I no longer work together every day? How is it possible that I will never again enter 3B’s classroom and greet the sixteen little souls that I had been entrusted to look after and teach every day?

How can I keep the memories? What can keep me from forgetting? Deirdres smile every time she saw me and how we struggled to make sense of math problems. Luke’s tantrums. Even Jake’s stupid comments or how he insisted on bringing a fidget spinner into the classroom even though we had had no choice but to ban them.. Or how the majority of my kids seemed incapable of learning to stay quiet. Or stay seated.
Please help me remember. Playing games. Reading the fourth Harry Potter book for them.  Marvin’s childish charm which made it impossible to stay mad at him no matter how difficult he had been. Katie and Maisie, my darling girls who have helped me so much. How Phoebe’s anger could be turned into creativity. How I’ve gotten at least one hug from Tina.

Or how when we were going to go and sing for the parents on the last day, I didn’t need to tell them – they just lined up behind me like a row of ducklings.

Or how Louise, one of my younger coworkers, would light up my day with a hug or even just a smile.

My classroom is so empty now. I cleaned all the text from the whiteboard. Took their drawings down. Cleaned. Wiped away our memories of tears and yelling and laughing and smiling. And learning of course.

How can it be over? Why isn’t it still January?

I seriously, seriously, seriously love my job.

(All kid’s names are changed)

So I Went Anyway!

…thanks to wife and sister (who is gay too btw!).

We were caught in the rain by the end of it but it was so much fun.

Some photos:

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There were police horses (which you can kind of see in the photo above) which were wearing rainbow flags! But Sheeba kept barking and sometimes it was hard to take photos from where we were standing. (Plus I pretty much suck with a camera so…)

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But yeah, it started pouring down. We ran down to the tram station but we still had to wait without cover for ten – fifteen minutes, we arrived home completely drenched. But enjoy my silly face.

Time to take it easy now, drink some tea and play some video games.

Have a good weekend everybody! 🙂

 

P is for Pride, S is for Shy

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Pride has come to town. Sadly, I’m quite reserved. That includes my sexuality.

I’m comfortable. It’s not a big deal anymore. I’m still occasionally worried that a parent is going to freak out and complain (I’m a school teacher after all and to some homosexuality is contagious -.-) I’m not in the closet. Not even to my students. I don’t make announcements of course, but if it comes up in conversation I don’t deny it. If they ask if I’m married (and children do, especially if you’re a young woman it seems) I tell them “I don’t have a husband, I have a wife” and like I’ve mentioned before, kids usually don’t care.

I think the best gift we can give our kids, in terms of different sexualities, is to not make discourse of everything. As an adult I’m tired of lectures at university or high school telling me “when we meet gay people we must be nice to them”. I’ve never met another message than an ‘us and them’ message. It doesn’t matter how well meant it is. It shows that the lecturer or teacher or professor is straight and they assume that everyone in the room is straight too. And message recieved. I will always be “them”, “the other”. The message is not for me. I don’t want to be taught to be nice to gay people.

That’s not what I want for my students. I want it to be a non-issue. If my kids come running, telling me that someone is gay, my answer is always a mindless, adult, “oh that’s nice dear”. Call me crazy, but I think that if I start telling my kids “don’t say that, don’t call them gay, they’re probably not gay and even if they are, that’s okay, gay people are people too…,” all they will learn is that gay people are the other. It becomes an issue. If we want it to be normality, we need to treat it like normality. If we make it a discourse, it will be a discourse and you’ll wind up with kids like me – quite sad and uncomfortable when they learn that they are lesbian.

Speak about gender. Yes! Talk abut the right to be who you are. Who you want to be. You’re allowed to wear what you want, have nail polish if you want. Talk about the fact that gender doesn’t matter. But don’t turn sexuality into a subject that needs to be taught. We don’t do that with heterosexuality and as long as we treat homosexuality like something different, it will remain something different. We need it normalised. Not special.

Lesbian is not all I am. It doesn’t define who I am. The gender of my wife has nothing to do with my personality. It defines how I think to some degree, it has influenced my experiences. But it is not all I am and I don’t want it painted as such.

I am very proud of and grateful for the great people who came before me. Thank you for my right to marry. My security. My ability and right to raise kids. Compared to older lesbians my life has been, is, so easy (my wife’s life hasn’t, but that’s a different story). So thank you for your struggle. It is called Pride, not as in the biblical sin but as in “we are not ashamed”. And we shouldn’t be ashamed because we have nothing to be ashamed of.

But gosh, my reserved nature does not like pride. Or maybe that’s shyness. I’ve known I’m a lesbian for ten years now and I’ve never been (and I’ve lived in three different towns that hosts Pride festivals). I’m equally terrified and curious. (and enjoying the rainbows which are EVERYWHERE this week) So this is my thank you instead.

Thank you for your struggle, to all who struggle for LGBTQA rights. And I’m sorry for my cowardice and occasional recluse nature. I will most likely hide this year as well.

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Well here we are… (beware frustration)

And what have I done? To be honest it feels like nothing. On average I’m writing 300 words a week if even that. Updating my blog isn’t even on the radar. Even though I want to, I really want to. It’s May. Last time I updated my blog was January.

I looked at my goals for the year yesterday. Almost all of them are writing-related. And what am I doing? I’m either dealing with the stupid health issues or working. There isn’t much energy for else. And most of the time I don’t even feel guilty. I’m doing the best with what I’ve been given. And you know what? I have less than twenty working days until the summer. And during the summer I will collect myself, get my body to work again properly and have so much time to write. Before then all I can do is bide my time.

So I’ll probably not write anything here until the middle of June, but luckily it’s not far away. In the meantime I can start thinking about what I actually want to blog about.

Before I graduated, the idea of my blog was short stories. And it kind of works (except the mess that is “Never break a leg before christmas”, I know I haven’t finished it and honestly I will) except during school weeks when lesson plans take up a lot of my creativity and energy. Whatevers left I want to give to novels or novellas. So what can I blog about? What do people blog about? I don’t have that much writing experience, I mean, I do but not if you compare to other bloggers. Especially not this dreadful year. I have very little experience with self-publishing. What can I write about then? Teaching. I have experienced with violent kids, kids with dyslexia, kids with ADHD, unhelpful parents. I can talk about being rootless, of not living in a place more than four years all my life. I guess I can talk about boats. And nature. I can talk about stress and guilt. Of putting on music and dancing around to it. What else is there to me?

IMG_20170501_184516My mum gave me this light. It runs on cooking oil, how cool is that?

Artichoke, Lettuce and Mayo

 

“I can’t do this anymore.” I let my carving knife fall to the floor. “Do you know how exhausting this is?”

“What is?” Your eyes, beautiful. Like two deep bowls of gravy.

“Pretending that I’m not in love with you.”

 

I don’t even know how we arrived at this point, you and I. I have always needed so much. Attention. Care. Smiles. Answers. Answers more than anything. And food.

 

I found carrots. I found steak and worcester sauce and mushrooms. I found different types of pasta. I learned that potatoes never float and that different oils have different boiling points and that, for the love of god, don’t be scared of salt. I found double heavy cream and real butter. I found non-stick pans and the best recipe for pizza dough. I learned how to crack an egg with one hand and which season produced the nicest onions. I found food.

 

And I found you. When I bought my own restaurant you came with it. That first year, beloved, I hated you. You seemed to bring me the best produce at the worst of times. I couldn’t cook everything. There was never enough time. And people? People are cruel. It doesn’t matter if I did my best. People would never like my carrot and strawberry stew. People would never enjoy my pizza with artichokes, mayo and lettuce. Of course I knew this. You didn’t have to tell me.

 

I wanted to invent something new, I wanted to find that revolutionary spark and run with it. But maybe I shouldn’t have done trial and error with several thousand dollars in the balance. I didn’t care. I wanted to figure it out. Taste, smell, sight, touch. Stomachs.

 

You, a simple food runner, decided to teach me, the chef. I hated it. Your most resistant student. More Darth Vader than dutiful padawan.

 

You taught me to roast garlic. To grill the perfect medium rare burger. When I wanted to serve fries with risotto, you wouldn’t let me. You wouldn’t even let me eat it myself. You didn’t care that I thought that herring completes any lasagne or that liquorice smoothie should be on every menu. You didn’t care that every fermented snail I wanted to boil was organic.

 

And I’m the weird one.

 

At times I likened you to leprosy. You bound my arms, my mind. You made me blind in the kitchen.

 

And then you made me blind in other places. It was probably instinct. We’re human after all. We need food and air. We developed a nose to breathe and to smell. Taste buds to taste. Sweet, sour, bitter, umami. But humans have other needs to. I had known about that, in theory. But I had been too obsessed with finding the perfect sweet potato I hadn’t cared for anything else.

 

But then you kissed me. Beautiful idiot you called me. Crazy, crazy woman. And “What have you done to me?”

 

To you, I wondered. I didn’t know I had done anything to you. It had never even occurred to me that two women could share a kiss like that one. I thought you were the one who had changed everything. You had kissed me. Not the other way around. I was innocent as a summer potato. Small. Fresh. You were more like a devilled egg, maybe innocent on the outside, but strangely spicy and aromatic inside. A stable on any buffet table. You had taught me that.

 

The first time you took me to bed, I felt like I had gone out of the frying pan and into the fire. My skin bubbled and cracked, like pork belly in the oven, every time you touched me. But instead of cooking, it felt like every time you nipped at my skin, the more raw I got. Not just my skin but on the inside. My lungs and my brain and my heart. I had thought my organs ran on glucose and fat. I was wrong. My fuel consisted on one stubborn and patient food runner.

 

That led us to this day. I had been wrong, I realised that now. Carrots works best in carrot cake, not chocolate cake and you can’t make meringue out of whipped barracuda. You were right, I was wrong. I’m ready to admit that now.

 

I shed off my apron and my big white puffy hat that I had once thought I was entitled to. I had nothing left. If you wanted me to sell my restaurant, I would. Everything I am… is and was yours.

 

“I don’t want to talk anymore.” The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them. It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. All words are said. I don’t have any left. “I don’t want to be alone anymore either.” I let my carving knife fall to the floor. There is nothing left of me. “Do you know how exhausting this is?”

“What is?” Your eyes are empty, like the sky.

“Pretending that I’m not in love with you.”


Author note: Don’t ask. 😛

My pen drive

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the middle of move. We get the keys in eight days from now and we honestly can’t wait. I hope for some stability now and stop moving around like a restless soul.

When packing and organising, I found my most valuable possession. My pen drive. I don’t know what I would do if I lost my stories. What do people do to protect their work? I have occasional months of being terribly lazy and forgetting to back up but I want to be better.

To me this pen drive encompasses my whole life. It contains everything. It contains all I have written since 2011 which might not seem like many years but to me it’s been years of rapid development. Not just writing-wise.

In it, I have my fanfictions. The good, the bad, the downright terrible. In it, I carry the first disastrous drafts of State of Emergency.  It has all my short stories, posted and unposted. It has the words I produced during the skiing vacation in 2013. One-shot femslashes I wrote during lectures in teaching school. Secretly. In the back. And I was still paying attention to the lecturer, I promise. It contains the full drafts of Out of Hand and Stargazing. The plans for State of Emergency part II. An an unfinished draft of On Board the Monster.

It contains stories I wrote while I lived in Sundsvall. Stories I wrote while I lived in Lysekil. Stories I wrote while I lived in Uddevalla. I wonder what stories I will write while I live in my new town.
I’ll probably run out of pen drive space before soon, though.

Happy January 1st!

Here we are again, first of January! Welcome to 2017! I was reading my January first post from last year and I just feel like 2016 went incredibly fast.

So many things happened, not just in the world but in my own life. I got married, graduated and survived my first term as a proper teacher. I didn’t write as  much as I have in previous years but since I’ve been busier than ever, I’m not too disappointed with myself (well, I’m trying not to be).

My goals for 2016 were:

  • Finish On board the Monster (working title) which is my third novel.
  • Properly revise Out of Hand and add at least 20k words.
  • Find someone to publish State of Emergency.
  • Participate in Nanowrimo for the first time.

How did I do?

I *didn’t* finish On Board the Monster, it’s sort of on a semi-permanent hiatus. There are other stories that called my heart too much. Instead I started, and finished, a contemporary romance called Stargazing which is about a pornstar and a virgin who falls in love.

I did revise Out of Hand and added a buckload of words. It’s been through another bout of beta reading and editing and I’m planning to self-publish it in early 2017. But more on that in another post.

I self-published State of Emergency in August and loved the experience. I still want a publisher to publish it sometime in the future but we’ll wait and see.

I didn’t participate in Nanowrimo. There is no way I manage and I’ll not have that as a goal this year. In the middle of term it feels like I work 24 hours a day, planning, correcting, contacting parents, plus the actual teaching. There is no way I’ll manage to cram out 50k words in a month. That part of my life is over.

My new goals for 2017 are:

  • Revise and self-publish Out of Hand.
  • Revise and send Stargazing to a publisher
  • Try to update my blog once a month.
  • Not let my tumblr die. If I have one, I need to use it.
  • Finish The New Story, another contemporary romance.
  • Please, please, please finish Never break a leg before Christmas, (Come on, Kathy, this is getting ridiculous).
  • Start the sequel for State of Emergency. 

In just 12 days I’m moving to my new home. I think it’s going to boost my creativity a lot. The last six months I’ve been commuting four hours a day plus living in very tight quarters with too many other people.

I want this year to be a year of, well, writing again. More writing than 2016. Also happiness. And hope. And all the good things.

Happy January first everyone!

Updates

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Hi guys!

I’m dealing with some health issues at the moment which is why I’m completely silent and inactive but after an extra nice dinner tonight (plus putting on birthday pyjamas I recieved a few days ago) I finally did something overdue.

Now State of Emergency is available through Smashwords and can be picked up here.

I’ve also recieved final beta read of “Out of Hand” but because of mentioned health issues I don’t dare to promise when I’ll publish it.

I hope everyone will have a great December! ❤

/Kathy

Interview with Harper Bliss

Harper Bliss is an incredibly popular author of lesbian fiction and erotica with titles such as At the Water’s Edge, Seasons of Love and my personal favourite, Once in a Lifetime (and many more). She lives in Hong Kong with her wife, is also the co-founder of LadyLit Publishing and has the personal quest to be the most accessible author out there. 

Hi Harper! Thanks for the interview! Did you ever think that writing for fun would lead to your life today?

Thank you for having me. I certainly never believed it could be like this before the ebook revolution happened in 2011, which (lucky for me) coincided with me having lots of time to write due to my wife being relocated to Hong Kong for work. I’ve been doing this for 5 years now. Very amateurishly at first, and not making a lot of money. But even when I was only making a small amount each month, it was very encouraging because I could really see the potential. Now we both make a living off the best job in the world. It’s amazing and I’m very grateful.

As I understand it, you’re from Belgium. Have you ever had an issue with writing in English?

Yep. I’m from Belgium so English is not my native language. I grew up speaking Dutch, which is actually pretty close to English, meaning that it’s very easy for Dutch-speaking people to learn English. Belgium is a trilingual country (French and German being the other two official languages) where a lot of emphasis is put on learning languages from a young age. And one must never underestimate the power of subtitles when learning a language. Hearing the language while simultaneously reading translated subtitles throughout my teenage years has certainly contributed to my knowledge of the English language. Basically, you could say that I became fluent after watching Beverly Hills 90210. (It also helps that my wife is half-British and is very skilled at eliminating errors from my writing before it goes to the editor…) All of that being said, these days, I find it nearly impossible to write anything in Dutch. I live in Hong Kong, where I’m surrounded by English-speaking expats. I exclusively read in English (and have done so for a very long time). Though English will never be my first language, it has definitely become my language of choice.

Do you ever find it difficult juggling your marriage and your writing? I.e. Needing to write when your wife wants attention etc.

Not in the least. My wife has always been super supportive and now we run our publishing business together (and have done so for the past 2 years.) I only write in the morning anyway. She doesn’t want attention before noon. 😉 All jokes aside, writing and publishing is now both our full-time job. We’re in this together and we love it (we’re codependent lesbian like that.)

How come you decided to create LadyLit publishing rather than going the self-publishing route?

There was a time when I had a dream of becoming this amazing publisher of lesfic. Until I learned that running a publishing house is a lot of extra work that takes away a lot of time from writing. We closed for submissions about a year and a half ago to focus solely on Harper Bliss books and it has certainly been a good decision, not only for our bottom line, but even more so for our peace of mind. Being responsible for other authors’ success in publishing is extremely stressful. I have nothing but respect for houses like Ylva, Bella and Bold Strokes, who make a big difference to authors who don’t want to go indie (it’s not for everyone), but I’m glad I don’t have that responsibility anymore. Ladylit is still our company and will continue to be so, but for the foreseeable future we will only use it to publish Harper Bliss titles (and hopefully a couple of new pen names soon.)

Do you have daily goals for writing? 

I do, but consistency has always been my greatest enemy. Though, and I might be jinxing it by saying this, I think I finally cracked it. (It only took me 5 years.) Ever since I started writing seriously, I’ve dreamed of a regular routine, perhaps not daily, but at least on weekdays. The problem I’ve always had is that I dream too big. I set myself outrageous daily word count goals, only to end up terribly unmotivated when I can’t reach them, then start taking days off… that kind of predictable slippery slope. Since about a month or 2, I’ve been writing consistently between 8AM and 10AM. Being a fast writer, I can get between 2.000 and 3.000 words done daily. So that’s my goal (as opposed to the 6.000 words days I used to aim for.) I’ve always known consistency is more sustainable than binging, and it looks like I can finally make it work now.

Do you have a favourite among your own novels/short stories?

I think my best book is my latest release In the Distance There Is Light. It’s fairly controversial. And I’ve learned that my writing can really thrive on topics like that. I have written fairly straight-forward lesbian romances before, but they will never be my own favourites. I like big drama and emotional sex scenes and impossible situations. In the Distance has all of that in spades.

Out of all characters you have ever created, do you have any favourites?

That’s like asking about my favourite child! I’ll attempt an answer, anyway. 😉 I’ve always had a huge soft spot for Alice, the main character in Seasons of Love. She’s a pretty uptight, very British solicitor going through a midlife crisis and I love her transformation throughout the book—during which she falls in love with a much younger woman, who is also her best friend’s daughter. It’s funny because I always believed the power lesbian characters I created like Dominique Laroche in French Kissing or Isabella in High Rise would stay with me much longer as my favorites, but it turns out Alice McAllister is much more interesting as a character.

What kind of writing process do you have? Do you plan the whole story first or do you like to see where it takes you?

I write romance, so, at its most basic, the story will always be the same: two women meet, like each other, encounter a few obstacles, overcome them, and have a happy ending. I guess, for this reason, I’m not much of a plotter. I’m also very bad at knowing in advance what will happen. What I like to do instead is create complex, layered characters who are unpredictable, even to me as their creator, that drive the story forward. That being said, I would like to be more of a plotter, because when I know exactly what’s going to happen, I can write much faster.

Very soon, my wife and I will be trying our hand at writing a thriller together, and a book in that genre requires a whole lot more plotting than I’m used to. We’ve been planning this book for weeks now and, at times, it’s been a bit of a painful process for me, but I think the end result will be all the better for it (and my wife happens to pretty good at coming up with murderous plots!)

Do you read nonfiction books about writing?

All the time. I would definitely recommend Stephen King’s On Writing, just to get you started. I also listen to a few weekly podcasts (The Creative Penn, Self-Publishing Podcast & The Self-Publishing Formula) about writing and publishing and pick up a lot of tips there. We’ve also been doing James Patterson’s Masterclass in writing, which is quite interesting (though not very detailed.) I think I must have also read every book available about speeding up your writing, but they all say the same, just as any book on craft will, essentially, say the same. But it’s good to be reminded sometimes.

What are you currently working on right now?

I just typed ‘The End’ underneath the first draft of Pink Bean Book Two. The jury’s still out on the title, so I can’t give you that just yet. It will be out just before Christmas on 23 December 2016. Now that that’s done, my wife and I can finally start writing our thriller (about time after all that plotting!)

You can find Harper on her website or on her other social media