Category Archives: Ramblings

Random Acts of Generosity

Have you ever had someone do something sweet and thoughtful–but not even close to what you wanted?

On FB, I posted something about not being able to find a writing topic that could hold my interest. That was mostly because I was in the midst of grading 165 research reports before the end of the marking period so that I could have grades uploaded in time. Stress aggravates my ADD, which I get from my father. His comment (yes, I’m FB friends with my dad under my author profile) was to read a magazine I wouldn’t normally read. That got me thinking about how I don’t read magazines anymore. I used to read them all the time as a teen. My parents were wonderful about getting subscriptions to any magazine we wanted. I used to read National Geographic every month. That was the magazine we all liked. After that, there was some confusion about who liked what, and the confusion came from the place where random acts of generosity resided.

When I was about 12, Sassy magazine came out. My friend had it, and I wanted it. I think I grew out of it by 14, but it kept coming. I never asked for an extension on the subscription, but the thing just kept coming and coming.

My dad had a similar experience with Playboy (which I, like everybody else, liked for the articles). He commented repeatedly about how my mom would keep buying him subscriptions even though he didn’t want the magazine. It was during that discussion that I marveled at how my Sassy magazines kept coming. He looked at me strangely and said, “You keep leaving those postcards to extend the subscription on the table, so when I do the bills, I send them in.” After a bit of a laugh, we agreed that he could ignore whatever fell out of the magazine. I got those darn things until I was 19, at which point I think it went out of business. Not sure. I stopped reading them long before.

As for my father, he talked to my mom about not getting Playboy anymore, and she listened. I come from a generous family, the kind who buy things for you because they think you want them, not because you actually do. Magazines aren’t the only thing that’s happened with. I love them and wouldn’t change them for the world, but now I have  boxes full of Carnival glass and no idea what to do with it.

Don’t Stay

lesbian-same-sex-marriageI’m married, but I’m not. Michigan is one of those states run by Republicans intent on cutting funding to education and wasting tax dollars appealing an amendment to the State Constitution passed ten years ago that wouldn’t even make it to the ballot today. Polling shows that fighting the legalization of same-sex marriage is not popular. Most Americans (59%) support same-sex marriage. Even though 24% oppose it, 17% don’t care either way. That’s pretty high support, especially when you consider that only 86% of Americans support interracial marriage. [In the deep South, 29% oppose interracial marriage.]

 

So how does this relate to my situation? Governor Snyder, a supposed “businessman who stays out of social issues”, has decided to recognize that my marriage was legal, but deny the rights that should come with it. It’s an election year, and I think he’s trying to stay above a messy social issue, but he’d managed to position himself solidly against equal rights. As Atty Gen Eric Holder has the political balls to recognize my marriage, we will get Federal benefits. If I die, Suzy gets my Social Security. Good to know I haven’t paid into it for 26 years for nothing. There are about 1000 legal protections we still currently lack.

 

Here are some things we have to do now that we wouldn’t have to do if we had legal recognition from our state:Supreme court gay marriage

1. I have to write a note every year to keep on file at the pediatrician so that Suzy can take our kids to the doctor and make medical decisions.

2. We’ve had to write legal protections into our wills that specifically state who gets the kids, the house, etc, in the event one of us should die. This will can be contested by any of our family members and tied up indefinitely in court–because we don’t have legal status as a married couple.

3. We have to pay $400 extra/month for health care. If she were able to be on my health insurance plan, it wouldn’t cost a dime extra since I already pay for the family plan.

4. Depending on the hospital, we can’t stay with one another past visiting hours.

5. I can be fired from my job at any time simply for being a lesbian, and that’s a perfectly legal, legitimate reason.

Everybody I’ve talked to thinks Schuette and Snyder should let this go, even people who likely voted for the ban in 2003. My friend’s daughter, when told of our marriage, said, “Why wasn’t is always legal? That’s just stupid.”

 

Images from:

Wedding toppers: http://butteryobread.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/same-sex-marriage-in-2012-a-political-and-civil-rights-movement/

A Right Denied: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jun/20/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ruling

More Wedding Day Observations

As I’m hearing/reading comments, I feel I need to share a few observations. Since this isn’t my strong suit, I’m pleased I noticed this stuff at all!

1. There were NO protesters. And yes, there was time to organize something for people who felt strong opposition. We encountered people passing out flyers for the Gay Wedding Expo, photographers, ministers ready to perform for anybody from their congregations, reporters, supporters, even someone from the Democratic Party with petitions to get names on the ballot for the primary. (She was very happy to be the second witness to our wedding.) There were even people there just to hand out roses and convey congratulations.

Highland-20140324-00259
From people who were happy for everybody.

These are roses (in bloom on my messy counter) we were given on the way out. They gave one to every single person, including our officiant, maid-of-honor, and the twins. (One twin was given two by accident, and the lady just smiled and told her to keep it.) The roses didn’t come with a flyer or any kind of advertisement, so I don’t know who gave them out, but thank you! We appreciate your support and blessings.

2. Not everybody there got married right away. The couple in front of us had been together for 33 years. They wanted to wait until Sunday morning, when the pastor of their church would gladly perform the ceremony. The couple behind us (the guys who want to adopt kids) wanted to wait, but like us, they didn’t trust the government to not foul it up somehow. They got married by the County Clerk (Lisa Brown), though they plan to have the priest of their church perform another ceremony. I don’t know how many couples wanted to wait for another day, but weddings happened all over the grounds of the county courthouse. I hope the stay is lifted soon so that everybody who wanted to wait to have family and friends to witness their big day get the chance for their dreams to come true.

3. We’re not sure if/when Suzy will be able to get health care benefits through my work (like all other married couples.) I wrote our union president yesterday, and he’s looking into it today. Keep your fingers crossed!

With Love, Michele

Getting Married (March 22)

Warning: This is totally not related to being Michele Zurlo or writing romance novels, and it is not very succinct.

safe_image.phpOn Friday, Judge Friedman overturned Michigan’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. I was playing Candy Crush while I contemplated grading 7th grade essays. My phone rang, and I answered (which is amazing that I 1) heard the phone and 2) answered. People have learned that I’m not glued to my phone.) It was my buddy Eric (who I’ve mentioned in the dedication of several novels) who is also ordained to marry people. He’d been talking to me all week about what we needed to do when the time came. Eric dropped the good news on me, and told me to keep him informed because he’d drop everything as soon as our application was approved. The County Clerk was closed, and Michigan has a 3-day waiting period. Immediately I texted Suzy (who was out walking the dog) to tell her the news and to ask her to marry me. (In case you’re wondering, it was an immediate YES.)

I cannot tell you how happy we were. Together 18.5 years, we have two lovely children and an adorable dog (and a cranky cat) together. We’ve build a life in the open, living in the district where I teach and sending our kids to schools where lots of people know us. In a lot of ways, we’re insulated from the Republican hate (though that wasn’t always so; a former principal tried hard to fire me when I got pregnant with my kids) and vitriol. The more people know us, the more accepting they seem to be of the LGBT community. I’m not the only person “out” at my building, and we’re not the only lesbian parents in the district. Suzy, a stay-at-home-mom, is a very active parent volunteer in the twins’ elementary school.

Finally, we were going to be able to have the same rights–and not have to pay double for health care–as everybody else. Many friends called and texted good wishes Friday night.

I’m an early riser, so Saturday dawned bright and early. Another friend had left a question on FB asking me if we were going to the County Clerk’s office to get married. In Michigan, you have to be a resident of a county in order to apply for a license. I replied that our clerk wasn’t open, then I checked and found that Oakland County was one of 4 in the state that was holding special Saturday hours. I woke up my wife-to-be. [Funny aside: I burst into the bedroom, yelling “honey!” She thought something was wrong with one of the kids, so she leapt up,  still half-asleep, looking around for the problem. She was relieved when I told her that the kids were fine, and we could get a license this morning instead of having to wait until Monday.] We’d been civil-unioned in Vermont 11  years ago, but that wasn’t recognized in our home state. This was a momentous occasion. My bride braved waking her parents before 11 am (it was 8:30) in order to find her birth certificate. Her dad (mid-70’s) was thrilled and ransacked the house to find it. Her mom even woke up to help. (This is a woman I’ve never seen before 2:30 pm.)

We went down, expecting to just file for a license. Imagine our joy when we found out they were waiving the waiting period and performing weddings on the spot. As we waited in line, we debated whether we had the right to ask Eric (and Melissa, who was to be my maid-of-honor) to come down to the courthouse and perform the nuptials. As they were texting us every few minutes (and we found out later the two of them had been up since 7 am trying to coordinate what was going to happen and when), we asked if they wanted to come up. They dropped everything to be there within an hour. The fact that Melissa had her hair and makeup done (on a weekend) meant she’d been ready for the call.

While waiting in line, another friend sent this picture:

Image

She wanted to know if this was me. I wish I had her ability to see stuff this small. At first I just said I was there. Later, I realized that, yes, I am in the picture. Someone had posted it on a FB site that was a proponent of gay marriage, and her husband had shown her the photo. In case you’re wondering, I’m in the center of the photo, right by the red line, behind the woman in the white sweatshirt. I am wearing a black shirt and carrying a maroon coat. If you look even closer, you can see my bride’s head sticking out from behind the baldish-man texting on his phone in the foreground. We’re talking to the gay couple behind us. Nice guys from Berkeley who hope being able to be legally married will help them adopt a child. (Best of luck guys–people who want kids that badly deserve to have them!) Our kids are sitting on the ledge under the window, glued to their books. My nerds.

While we waited, friends and family texted and called. Both our mothers have health problems that prevented them from being able to drop everything to be there, which was fine. We didn’t even know we were going to get married until we’d been in line for a half hour. We talked to a reporter from Fox 2 News, though we didn’t watch to see if our clip made the final cut. I’m sure it didn’t. I rambled like a nervous idiot, and I’m sure nobody could cobble a good sound bite out of it.

So Eric and Melissa made it soon after we’d filed the application. Eric, in his tuxedo T-shirt, performed the ceremony. It was touching and sweet, and we all cried at least a little. Melissa was our videographer, photographer, witness, maid-of-honor, and all around good friend. After some paperwork and $50 more spent, we had our licenses.

After that, we went out to lunch together, and then we met up with other friends to see Divergent. At dinner that night, we found out that the Court of Appeals had issued a stay until Wednesday. That means our marriage had been temporarily invalidated until they could decide whether they wanted to permanently invalidate it. The judge who issued the stay mentioned that he wanted to give Michigan’s Attorney General, an a-hole by the name of Schuette who thinks it’s his duty to persecute the LGBT community for wanting the same rights accorded to everybody else, time to really think about whether he should waste taxpayer dollars with an appeal. Over 300 couples were married in the 4 counties that opened their doors to us on Saturday, almost half of them in Oakland County. Friends of our who live in neighboring Livingston County were not able to get married this weekend. They’d planned to take Monday off, but now those plans are on hold.

That is the story of my weekend (and why I haven’t graded any 7th grade essays). I will keep you posted on this issue (and how it affects me) as it develops. If you live in Michigan, contact Schuette and your local representatives and senators and Governor Snyder to tell them that you want them to let this ruling stand. Schuette’s website says he’s the people’s voice for victims, but in this case, he’s the one victimizing innocents. People are a lot more educated about LGBT than they were 10 years ago when this travesty of an amendment was passed, and most Michigan residents are in favor of marriage equality.

February Update

Hello everybody!

It’s been a hell of a February! I’ve been busy with all sorts of great things. Kiss Me Goodnight comes out next month, and I’ve been trying to put together tours and other goodies. More information on that to come.

Next, I broke my arm/wrist. When a box of books is delivered to an English teacher, the resulting glee can be injurious. This is my first broken bone, and it sucks.

In other new, I occurs to me that in the next two years, I’ll be getting the rights back to most of my books. Some of them will be republished independently, but others will no longer be available.  One title that will survive–but not in its current format–is Letting Go. I found the original version, and I plan to spend a lot of time this year refurbishing it. The core story will be the same, but many of the details will change. This was my first book, and I’ve grown a lot as a writer since then. Rights return won’t happen until 2015, so don’t look for it until then.

Back to KMG, I should have an incredible cover to reveal soon. You’re going to LOVE it. Following that, I’ll have a excerpt and information on where I’ll be and when.

Love, Michele

Coming Soon

Hello Everybody!

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to be publishing excerpts from all the Awakenings books. Every other day, leading up to the December 5th release of In Their Hearts, check here for two excerpts (story and steamy) from each of the seven novels.

This will most likely be the last book I write in the Awakenings series. Though I get emails asking for more, the sales do not bear out that demand. So I’m going to put In Their Hearts out as the finale for that series. Thanks to all my loyal fans who have suck with me and loved each and every installment in the Awakenings series. Don’t worry, though! I have lots of other great stuff planned, including the third book in the Doms of the FBI series and the launch of a brand-new series called Kiss Me (which I LOVE and hope you will as well.)

Enjoy the excerpt-a-palooza!

Love, Michele

Adventures in Publishing

I heard from an editor at Omnific Publishing yesterday. The exciting thing about working with a new publisher is getting to know their publication process. I’ve been through it with two other publishers–Siren and Loose Id–and each one is different.

Siren, the first publisher to take a chance on me, has a two-tiered process. The first time, the editor picks out grammatical errors or typos. The second time, they go for content revisions. Since I prefer to do things the other way around, I’ve learned to use beta readers so that I can take care of the content revisions beforehand. Since I’m an English teacher, and I rock at grammar and stuff, I never have much in the way of revision from Siren. Also, I never even get to know the name of the person who read my manuscript and left their comments in the margins. I have no contact with them at all.

Loose Id, my second publisher, is very different. With them, I work through one editor. She works with me through content revisions, a back-and-forth that can last through several months. If I have questions, I can ask her and she’ll respond. That was new to me. I like knowing the name and being able to contact the person who worked on my manuscript. I also liked working with the same person on every release I had through LI. We got to know one another’s styles, and I really feel like she made me a better writer. Other eyes also look at my manuscript once my editor and I are finished with the content revisions. It goes through another editor and a proofreader, and they find pretty much everything. That works well for me because I’m a perfectionist. I HATE rereading my published works and finding mistakes.

Omnific is a newer publisher, one I’ve decided to take a chance with. Unlike my decision to go with LI, I don’t know anybody currently published with them, so I didn’t have anybody to pester with questions. From this first interaction, it looks like I’ll be working with an editorial team. I get to know their names, and I have contact with all of them. The series I’m publishing through them–Kiss Me–is probably one of the best things I’ve ever written. I’m hoping my new acquaintances will make it even better.

I have no idea when it’s due out. I’m guessing sometime in 2014. This December, In Their Hearts (Two Masters for Samantha 2) is due out from Siren. Edits haven’t landed in my inbox yet. I’m hoping they do soon. The story is strong and dynamic, but Siren has asked me to add it more sex. Those scenes take some time and significant effort  to write well.

Meanwhile, I’m reading through my draft of Re/Imagined (Doms of the FBI #3) and wondering when I’ll feel comfortable enough with it to send it off to beta readers. I’m self-publishing this one once it’s ready–my first foray into the independent publishing world. I’ve named my company Lost Goddess Publishing, sort of after the line from the Violent Femmes song Kiss Off (“nine for a lost god”) that keeps getting stuck in my  head. Now it’s in yours. <giggles>

Anyway, that’s what’s up with me. I hope your weekend is getting off to a lovely start!

Websites and Censorship

I recently had a run-in with the forces of censorship. The provider for my website noticed (after 4 years) that I have adult content. They also objected to this photo, which I found Banned Photorunning around on Facebook. I thought it was sweet. You’ll notice that there’s no showing of the “uh-oh” body parts. After trying in vain to contact my web provider, I realized that my efforts were futile. I lost track of the number of times I tried to contact Webs before I gave up.

So I bought a new domain name–you’ll now have to visit me at www.michelezurloauthor.com–and spend the weekend designing a completely new website. It’s better than the old one, so I don’t regret that, and it has more features and cool stuff. This blog has to be run separately, but it’s also much better–and I can run the feed on one of my website’s pages. It has features I’ve always wanted, like the ability to embed pictures with text. And WordPress isn’t as glitchy. I’ve had posts at my old place where the spaces between words disappear. That’s in the past now. I’m going to look to the future.

So change your bookmarks. Update your links. Visit my brand-new website, and let me know what you think.

Love, Michele