Tag Archives: writers

The soundtrack to my life

Grease albumWhen I started writing my book, I noticed a theme.  Besides a love for the ladies (here’s to you Farrah Fawcett and Olivia Newton-John), music played an important role in my life.

The soundtrack to my pre-teen days is the two-record album Grease, perhaps coupled with the theme to Charlie’s Angels“Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy …”

My friends and I bowl on a team we name “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bowlers.”  We are not fans of the Beatles’ classic album but of the Bee Gees remake.

John Mellencamp’s “Warmer Place to Sleep” had been playing on a boom box right before I have my first kiss.

I come out after praying using the words to the AA Serenity Prayer and the lyrics to the Prince song “Controversy.”  Ok, so most people know those lyrics as the Lord’s Prayer, but I was a heathen back then.  And the Purple Man was about as close to religious as I got.

Tell me about it, Middle-age Butch

Tell me about it, Middle-age Butch

I’ve gone through the book and made note of all of the quoted song lyrics and music references.  (I’ve even included the Charlie’s Angels theme song and “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” which is how this baby butch felt about Olivia in her skintight black leather pants and red high heels.  Have mercy.)

So, yeah, the soundtrack to my book.  You can listen to it here via Spotify.

If it puts you in the mood, you can still pre-order a signed copy of Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.  Follow the instructions here.

You can pre-order a copy from my publisher here.

Or, if you’re the patient type, you can pick up a copy on Friday when the book goes live on Amazon.

* * *

How about you?  What songs would be included on the soundtrack to your life?

* * *

Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender Soundtrack

1. Superman by R.E.M.

2. Black Leather by Joan Jett

3. Controversy by Prince

4. Munsters – Theme Song

5. Lola by The Kinks

6. Like the Way I Do by Melissa Etheridge

7. Charlie’s Angels – Theme Song

8. More Than a Woman – Bee Gees

9. Hopelessly Devoted to You — Olivia Newton-John

10. Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee – Stockard Channing

11. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme by They Might Be Giants

12. Don’t Give Up on Us by David Soul

13. Warmer Place to Sleep by John Mellencamp

14. Laverne and Shirley Theme Song

15. A Little Bit Country-A Little Bit Rock ‘N Roll by Donny & Marie

16. Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash

17. Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel

18. Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses

19. American Pie by Don McLean

20. Seventeen by Winger

21. Talk Dirty to Me by Winger

22. Runaway by Bon Jovi

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Middle-age butch is changing the world

Superhero powLast week, a friend threw a fancy luncheon to celebrate my book.

On my way to her house, I stopped by a local shop to purchase a small hostess gift.

I told the shop owner I was going to a luncheon and asked for gift suggestions.

When I went to pay for the gift, she asked about the lunch.

Normally, I don’t divulge a lot of information about myself when I am out in public.  What you see is what you get.  Middle-age woman.  Or boy.  Heck, you know the drill.  But I was in a generous and giving mood because friends! free lunch! afternoon cocktails!

“A friend is having a special lunch in my honor because I wrote a book,” I said.

The shop owner congratulated me and we started talking about writing.

When she asked questions about the book, I handed her a promotional business card.

“I was just talking to my daughter about this the other night,” she said.

Apparently, they had gone on a mother-daughter shopping excursion for a bathing suit.  The  teenage daughter wanted board shorts like her dad wears.

“I didn’t even know what board shorts were,” she said.

“I wear board shorts,” I told her.

So, we talked about board shorts and the fluidity of gender and girls who want to wear what their dads do.

I couldn’t wait for W to get home so I could tell her about my day.  About the special lunch of grilled chicken and shrimp, organic beer and a duo of desserts.

And about my conversation with the shop owner.

“Most writers say that if they are able to touch one person’s life, they are a success,” W reminded me.

“I know,” I said.  “My book isn’t even out, and I’m already changing the world.”

So, yeah, a little dramatic.  But the day’s events left me feeling large and in charge and, well, yes, very, very butch.

You know you want to pre-order my book

Pre-order this bad boy.

Pre-order this bad boy.  Pretty please?

Greetings my Flannel faithful.  Great news!

My publisher is offering pre-orders for my book.  Just click on over to Weasel Press and follow the links to their Storenvy site.  It’s easy peasy … you know the rest.

If you’d like a signed copy, you can pre-order directly from your favorite butch blogger.  I’ll sign it however you want — “To my All-Time Favorite Flannel Files Follower” or “To the World’s Best Butch.”

Here’s how it works:

1. Go to PayPal and send $20.00 (pay for goods or services) to rae.r.theodore@gmail.com.  That’s me.

The book costs $15.95, plus $4.05 for shipping and handling.

2. For every pre-order, I’ll send you out some cool swag while you’re waiting for the book to mail.  Bookmarks with little red capes.  Flashdrives loaded with some material not in the book.  Maybe I’ll get crazy and send out some bowties and neckties, beer bottle openers, screwdrivers and other butch freebies.  Ya never know.  I’m in a good mood these days, folks.

Plus, for every pre-order, I’ll donate $1 to my local library so they can purchase some LGBT books that I’m going to help pick out.  Because they don’t have any.  No Rubyfruit Jungle, no Fun Home, no Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.  I get teary eyed just thinking about it.

3. If you want your book signed a certain way, let me know in the comments section of the PayPal transaction.

4. I’ll mail your book out on June 26th, the day of the release.

Consider buying one for yourself, one for a friend, one for your local high school’s gay-straight alliance.

They make great Father’s Day gifts.  Actually not.

If you can, help spread the word.  We need to tell our stories.  I’m up for interviews, guest blogs, you name it.

P.S. If you are in my writers’ group, do not pre-order here.

Superbutch

Thanks, guys.  I needed that.

I pulled on my star-spangled underoos and tied on my super-butch cape.

Cracks me up every time.

Cracks me up every time.

I wore my unicorn T-shirt and reminded myself of the power of positive thinking.

I chewed a lot of Vitamin C tablets.  I prayed.  I came up with a new mantra: love, love, love.

I read and re-read your comments.

W and I reenacted that scene from Moonstruck.  Snap out of it!  Snap out of it!  Snap out of it!

I am feeling better and butchier than ever.

I figure I needed to have my mini meltdown now and get it out if the way.  It’s all clear sailing from here on out.  Clear skin.  Clear mind.  Clear blue skies with fluffy white clouds.

As Alicia Keys would sing, this butch is on fire.

But I couldn’t have done it without you guys.  Seriously, it’s like having my own cheering section.

Moving forward, I promise to do my best to represent the lesbians and the butches.  Those of us who live somewhere in the middle of boy and girl, or maybe outside of the binary altogether.  The late bloomers.  The underdogs.  Everyone who has just wanted to fit in.  I will tell our stories with pride and dignity.

Superhero powThe one lesson I’ve learned this holiday weekend is that sometimes you have to be your own hero.

And that’s a whole lot easier to do when you have a team of superheroes flying by your side.

P.S. You guys look great in spandex.

Book stress

My book comes out in about a month.

xx

Me.

I am so stressed that I have a huge cold sore on my face.  Yep.  The motherfucker skipped my lip (apparently, lip cold sores are for sissies) and erupted right there on my face.  I am like that craggy face guy from The Fantastic Four or the Elephant Man.  I can’t be sure as I have been avoiding mirrors and shiny surfaces.

“Don’t look at me, I’m hideous,” I tell W.

I have forbidden her from making direct eye contact with me.

Actually, I think it’s best that everyone refrain from looking at me or even in my direction, at least for a few months, I suggest.

xx

On second thought …

It seemed like a good idea to write a memoir.  Until right before it’s available for purchase.  Then not so great.  Like New Coke.

I am re-thinking my decision not to use my Middle-age Butch alias.  Or my other pen names: I. B. Butch, I.P. Daily (that was me) and Sexy Handsome Beast.

When I am telling W all of this — 1) don’t look at me and 2) pseudonyms rule — she notes that I am smiling a lot for a person on the verge of a memoir-induced psychotic breakdown.

xx

This is me 24/7 these days.

I tell her that’s normal.  Extra smiling = crazy.  Everyone’s seen The Shining, right?

I don’t admit that I’m excited about the book.  I only admit that I’m nervous.

I’m feeling vulnerable and exposed.  I’m worried about what people will say.  I’m worried about being perceived as a freak — a boy-girl mutant, a girl/boy oddity — to those who don’t understand.

W tells me it’s too late to take it all back now.  The wheels have been set in motion.

I try to remind myself why I wrote my story in the first place.  Through the writing process, I learned who I am, as a person and a writer.

But I wasn’t writing for that me.  The today me.  I was writing for the me who existed three or four decades ago.  The young girl who didn’t know she had options.  Who didn’t know gender isn’t carved in stone.  Who didn’t know she could marry a girl.  Or shop exclusively on the left side of The Gap.  And that the world wouldn’t end if she did those things.  In fact, her world would just start beginning.

I try to remember that my story is important.  That all of our big butch stories are important.  (Silent nod.)  That all stories about those who live in the margins and on the fringe are important.  We are underrepresented in literature and largely misunderstood.

I try to remember that I wrote the book for that one person who will recognize herself in the pages and feel not so alone, at least for a few minutes.

That is the power of books and stories and writers.  We read to know that we’re not alone.

I try to remember all of that as I sit here scared and unsure of my words.

What’s in a name?

Name tag

So, you’ve all seen it.  I know you have.

My name.

It’s right there on the cover of my book.

I’ve gone from anonymous blogger to author who shall be named.

Note: Middle-age Butch is not my real name.

I’ve enjoyed blogging anonymously for the past two years.  It allowed me to open up and write about whatever I wanted.  And be more flannel-y and cool than I really am.

But now the jig is up.  And I’m not even Irish.

When I was a kid, I used to hate my name.  It was seven letters long and contained every vowel except “u.”  It rhymed with “Crayola,” kinda.  It was French.  These things do not make for a cool name.

In second grade, my teacher, Mrs. Ruth Dixon, shortened my name to Rae.

I'm like this but butchier

I’m like this but butchier

At about the same time, my grandmother started calling me Rae.  Her favorite movie was The Sound of Music.  I was Rae, or “re,” her drop of golden sun.  So yeah, I’m like a butch Julie Andrews.

And it stuck. Rae.

Not a bad name for someone who gets called “sir.”

It’s one letter away from Ray.

I think I’m just feeling exposed these days, what with my memoir less than three months away from its premiere.

I’ve never had to worry about my family reading my blog.  It was something I did privately.  Under a pseudonym.

I worry about what they will think about the book.

More specifically, I worry that they will be embarrassed by the book.  Not so much by how they are portrayed (this isn’t the lesbian version of Running with Scissors … which would be Running While Scissoring, I believe).  But just by the fact that they have a daughter who sometimes gets mistaken for a man.  Or young boy.  Or Boy Scout.

ElephantWe don’t talk about anything in our family.  I have this great line that didn’t make it into the book: The elephant in the room was our family pet.

So having a book published is like airing our dirty laundry in public.  Even though it’s my dirty laundry.  And yes, those are my boxer briefs thank you very much.

I had thought about publishing the book under a pen name.  Maybe Girl-Who-Hasn’t-Worn-Skirt-Since-Grade-School.  Or Little Flower Stamen-Pistil.  Did I mention that I’m part Cherokee?  But couldn’t come up with a suitable moniker.

I guess I need to adjust to being a little more open and honest.  To putting myself out there.  Not so much with the rest of the world.  But with those who claim to know me best.

Cover girl

Hey guys, take a gander:

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a book!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a book!

Still scheduled for release on June 26.

You can find more information from my publisher Weasel Press, including the book synopsis, by scrolling down their Facebook feed.

Better yet, find them on Facebook, follow them, like the information about my book and share.  You know you want to.

While you’re there, check out their other publications and submission calls.

Prepare for launch!

Rocket launch

Mark your calendars, folks.

I have an official launch date for my book.

Leaving Normal: Living in the Middle of Boy/Girl comes out June 26.  That’s three short months from today.

So exciting!  So scary!

W and I have just started planning the book launch party.  We’re looking for a local LGBT charity to donate a portion of the profits to.  We considered adopting a softball team, but it would probably involve way too much paperwork.

As far as the book goes, I’m picking out cover art now.  I have it narrowed down to three covers.  I need to make a decision soon but keep changing my mind.  I just got back first edits, which I’m going to comb through this weekend.

It all seems so surreal.  I was updating my blog a few weeks ago and got to cross off “write a book and have it published” from my bucket list.  Such an awesome feeling.  I pounded my chest like Tarzan and actually high-fived myself like a big giant butch dork.

I’m looking ahead to marketing.  Making lists.  Sending out e-mails.  Thinking about press releases, guest blog posts, etc.  Three months will go by really fast.

So, here’s where you come in.  I need your best promotion ideas.  You know me.  Lovable butch with a fondness for flannel.  You know about my book.  A heartwarming tale about a lovable butch with a fondness for flannel.

Pitch me your best book promotion ideas.  Think outside the box.  Because isn’t what this book is all about.  Living outside the box.  Those M/F boxes.  And every other box related to gender.  Get inspired.  Get crazy.  Get butch.

I’ll even make it worth your while.  Best idea wins a free bow tie.

Your pick ... posies or paisley.

Your pick … posies or paisley.

So, get to thinking.  Can’t wait to read what you come up with!

The butch lands a book deal

Wonder WomanAs Wonder Woman might say: Holy Hera!

Your favorite butch blogger is going to be a published author.  It’s true.  I swear on all that is flannel.

My book will be a part of Weasel Press’ 2015 lineup.  You can check out this small, independent publisher here.  If you look hard enough, you just might learn my true identity.

The book’s working title is Leaving Normal: Living in the Middle of Boy/Girl.  The editing process has already begun.  Hard copies are expected by early summer.

I am excited and thrilled and still in that I-can’t-believe-this-is-really-happening phase.  Ok, pinch me one more time.

I’ll keep y’all posted.

A big thanks to everyone who reads this blog and at one time or another let me know that my voice is important.

Doing the work

The EndAfter I had finished writing my book, I didn’t think it would be too hard to find an agent or a publisher.  I mean, everyone was telling me how good it was and how important it was.  Ok, at least that one person in my writing group said so.  And she was really smart.

I worked really hard on my query letter and sent it out to about a dozen agents.  I picked the ones who weren’t asking for a full-blown proposal.  Because who has the time for that?  Besides, I am an artist.  I just couldn’t be bothered.

I waited and continued to send out queries one by one to agents and small, independent publishing houses.

When nothing happened, I wrote a new query letter.

Months passed and still nothing.

I started thinking about self-publishing.

So, this weekend is dedicated to making that big push.  Writing the proposal, sending it out.  Contacting anyone who might be able to help with my publishing goal.

If I come up empty, I’ll be able to say I gave it my best shot.

I’ll self-publish because there is a dearth of butch stories out there.  I believe in the power of stories.  I believe in the power of telling your story.  I believe in the power of seeing yourself in someone else’s story.

It’s like that C.S. Lewis quote: “We read to know we are not alone.”

As I try to summarize my writing, I come up with this:

These are my stories.  The ones that keep me up at night.  The ones that appear on re-play in my head no matter how hard I try to shake them off.  They are stories about what it’s like to grow up different.  They are stories about what it’s like to live as a butch decades before you actually become one.  They are stories about hurt, shame, loneliness and wanting something that you can’t quite put your finger on.  In the end, they are stories about love and acceptance, because if you never learn to love yourself, who will?  These are my stories.  But I have a feeling they are many other people’s stories, too.

I think of Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle.  The first time I read it, I wished I had read it 20 years earlier.  I think it would have prompted me to come out much earlier in life.

I think of Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon’s Gender Failure.  The first time I read it, I cry (shhh … don’t tell anyone), because I still didn’t believe people wrote books for people like me.

Books mean something beyond the mere words printed on their pages.  Don’t ever doubt that.

* * *

What about you?  Which book has been most influential in your life?