Happily Ever After

I read the emails readers send me and respond to same. I also read the comments on my blog on both the website and my Facebook page, responding where a reply seems to be in order.  (Initially I wrote “called for” but prepositions are not to end sentences with.  So endeth the grammar lesson for the day!)

Some of the e-mails leave me inspired — like the one from the guy who wrote a couple of weeks ago to say that reading about Beau’s struggle with sobriety caused him to seek treatment. That one put tears in my eyes.

Some leave me floored — like the one from woman who wrote objecting to the fact that Ali Reynolds’s twin grandchildren are named Colin and Colleen which, according to her was a cutsie Fifties style of naming.  I replied—politely and with some humor, I thought — by explaining writers write what they know. As a product of those selfsame fifties, I came from a family of seven children where a clear majority came with J names — Janice, Jeannie, Judy, Jim, and Janie. (Where Arlan and Gary came from, I have NO idea!)  My character naming critic immediately responded by sending me a list of “acceptable Irish names” along with their accompanying meanings. Wait, wait, wait folks.  I’m the writer here.  I get to give my characters their names.  I did not write back a second time.  My rule of thumb is to respond politely once, but after that … it’s anybody’s guess.

And some of the emails leave me downright confused.  On the one hand I have a collection of e-mails from people saying they won’t read any more of my books because I’m obviously promoting the “gay lifestyle.” I confess that in my books, as in real life, there are various gay people who are a: living their lives and b: doing their jobs. (Ali’s wonderful majordomo, Leland Brooks, comes to mind.) What goes on in those characters’ private lives is really none of my business and none of my readers’ business, either. The same holds true for my heterosexual couples.  For instance, something is obviously going on in Joanna Brady and Butch Dixon’s bedroom because they have one kid and are closing in on another at the moment, but I didn’t see it happen, and neither did you because I’m not in the business of writing show-and-tell sex scenes.

The irony is, I also have a collection of e-mails accusing me of writing books that are homophobic.  (Lesson to self. As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Or, as Ricky Nelson sang in Garden Party: You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.)

So this week I received an e-mail that gave me a brand new perspective on all this backing-and-forthing.  It came from a woman in North Carolina who said she knew she was gay from the time she was nine years old. She also said she’d been married twice and divorced twice—once to and from a man and once to and from a woman. She concluded by saying, however, that if she ever met a guy like Butch Dixon, she’d marry him on the spot.  So there you are.  That one made me LOL, as the current saying goes.

Last night, at an event here in Tucson, I met a woman I’ve known casually for years. In all that time I’ve never asked or even thought “Is she or isn’t she?” (See paragraph four above—not my business.) At the end of the evening, she (please pardon my pronoun confusion here) introduced Bill and me to her “wife.” I’d say they’re both in their early sixties. They’re clearly happy to be newlyweds and still in the process of sorting out last name issues.

Bill and I congratulated them and left with the hope that they’ll live happily ever after.

That’s not promoting the “gay lifestyle,” so much as it is living and letting live.

It occurs to me that there’s not nearly enough of living and letting live going around these days.

Try it; you might like it.

39 thoughts on “Happily Ever After

  1. I am an avid fan of the Joanna Brady & J. P. Beaumont series. I have purchased and read every book in both series. I thank you for the many hours of enjoyment that I have received from your books. I do not agree with everything in all of those books but that is what makes the books fun to read. Everyone wants to be a critic because they fail to understand the concept of fiction. However’ Even a fictional story well written can have a valuable impact on your life if you are brave enough to read with an open mind.

  2. At least they are buying your books to help you learn to write. I for one love them the way they were written just like life.

  3. I look forward to your blog post every Friday. It’s helping to keep me sane. I’m a minority among my Facebook friends (the ones that haven’t “unfollowed” or “unfriended” me yet) who are angry or hysterical about the current occupant of the White House. Because I didn’t/don’t jump on the bashing bandwagon I’m suddenly not a decent person anymore. I’m not a big Trump fan, but he’s not the devil and Obama is not a saint. I’m trying to stay positive and look forward to the future, and especially to the next Ali Reynolds book–and I hope you’ll come for another presentation/book signing to Prescott Valley.

  4. You didn’t mention the emails saying they will no longer read your books because you are a Republican! How ridiculous. I often introduce myself as an “unrepentant child of the ’60’s.” I can’t imagine anything that would keep me from reading your books – they are wonderful. I’m with you on living and letting.

  5. You are correct. If there was a lot more “live and let live” at least our country would be a better place. And we would be setting a better example for others. I am finallyreading “Downfall”, and really enjoying it. Have a fabulous year!

  6. Keep writing anyway you want. I am not a writer but you are and I love your blog. I’m a couple years older and live in Arizona so I relate to you as a product of the Fifties etc. I have huge family (5 brothers, only girl) and a diverse bunch of relatives: gay, straight, smart, and not so smart. Some are ‘uptight’ and some ‘loose’. Some Democrats, Republicans and Trumpers. Some are dreamers and some pragmatic but we are all interesting and entertaining! I love all you books and characters and can’t wait for your new books to be released. Keep writing and walking!

  7. Bravo. My friends have teased me for years for being so “dense” on someone’s sexuality. Frankly, it hasn’t and still doesn’t occur to me to wonder about such things!
    The only person’s sex life I’m interested in is MINE, lol ?

    Thanks for writing about such things just right.

    • I agree with you, Deb. I don’t care about anyone’s sex life in person or as a character in a book. Just keep it private.

      It must be hard thinking up names to use for characters, but I like names that are classic and spelled correctly. I feel sorry for some kids who have gotten “creative” names. Their parents weren’t thinking.

  8. I love your books! The summer of 2015 inread as many as I could! I now continue to read as they are published. I probably would stop reading an author if she were to dominate her books and or media with politics! That being said- even if I do not agree with an author-that has little to do with fiction!! Your books give us hours of entertainment!!! In today’s political climate, it is best to keep comments to self-too much division!!! Keep writing/you are gifted and talented-one of the best ever!!!!

  9. My husband was very much against gay marriage. I would say to him, “why do you care?” . It is no skin off your nose if they can marry.
    Live and let live!

  10. Every time I read your blogs I am happy. I’m happy you share your life, I’m happy you share your thoughts, and I’m happy you share your opinions. I know that’s a whole lot of happy…but that’s a good thing in my eyes.
    I hope someday to meet you because you are my muse. I likely will never be the writer you are, and I’m okay with that. After all, there is only one of you. Regardless, you are an inspiration, and I’m blessed to have the joy of reading your books.
    Hugs,
    CJ Vermote

  11. Great post! I love your books and have read all the Joanna Brady books and look forward to the next one. Still catching up on J.P. Beaumont books. Altho right now I’m plowing through The Passage and that one will take a while. But back to your books – when will there be another Joanna Brady?

    I TOTALLY agree with what you wrote today in your blog. There isn’t nearly enough of “Live and Let Live” in the world today!

  12. I have probably commented before, but it’s not something I do regularly. I probably should, since I enjoy both your books, and your newsletter, and there isn’t enough encouragement in this world these days.

    What drew me to comment today, is to simply say “thank you”. Thank you for including a well functioning gay character into your books. As the mother of a gay son, who is simply living his life with his fiancé (wedding to take place this coming November, after 5 years of being together) it’s refreshing to see so many authors who are including gay characters just living out their lives like the rest of us. And I appreciate that you are one of them. I believe that it helps “the cause”, for people to see and experience this in books, art, and life in general, as simply another character in a vast array of what makes a family these days. So, I thank you. I think all most of us want for our children, is for them to be healthy, happy, functioning, contributing members of society. It’s certainly all I, as a mother, want for my children, and anything that contributes to that, gets a shout out from me!! Again, thanks for your part in helping to normalize all kinds of families.

  13. I work at a cafe where , guessing here, about 1/3 are gay. I simply don’t care. Everyone is nice to me, we do our jobs, and we treat each other with respect. I hear bits of their stories now and then but in general all of the 20 somethings have my sympathy. Most jobs are part-time, and only pay $8-9 an hour so it is a constant scramble with money, job schedule, and college. I’m thrilled to have my PT jobs with employers wanting a degree or certification but don’t pay enough in wages to even make the student loan payment. It’s no wonder most of them still live at home.

    I got into Facebook to follow authors I like as most seemed to stop updating their websites. This election cycle certainly opened my eyes. I was really stunned at the viscious liberal rhetoric from some of the authors themselves. I asked a simple question about no jobs and $20 trillion in debt to one author where the main concern seemed to be loss of gay rights. Wow, the hate that got spewed at me was astonishing, from the author and other posters. She actually called me dog shit and put the pile emoji next to it. I informed her I would no longer buy, read, or recommend her books and deleted myself from her account. After that I did not ask any questions but just simply paid attention to what was said on other sites. A different author was complaining about her sales flat lining. No surprise to me after what I read. You are entitled to your opinion but when your income depends on Joe and Joan Public purchasing your product you should not mortally offend the customers. Anyway, to the authors who refused to allow ugly politics to infringe on their space, I salute you and Thank You for offering a refuge from the ugliness.

    • Quitting reading an author because of their hate speech?
      Yep, done that.
      This one was a vicious republican, liberal hater and had a big case of Islamophobia,
      So there are all types of people, regardless if they are postmen, writers, police, doctors etc.
      Then there are “news sites” that publis half truths, lies etc…
      Breitbart News, is one of these.

      I’ll be here in Sweden and watch how it goes for USA, hoping for the best, regardless of what presidents you have.

  14. I have read your books as long as you have been writing them. Started with J. P. Beaumont books. I have always liked the fact that your characters are real people with problems that most of your readers can understand. I am sure there is literature out there written for the haters of whatever the hottest issue is at that time, but I want to read books that are inclusive and feel real. I remember friends of mine being horrified to find out that some of their favorite authors are gay. They really enjoyed the books up to that point. How sad. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading your excellent books.

  15. I was introduced to Beau when I was visiting a cousin in downtown Seattle early in your writing career. I have enjoyed each and every book and character and happily look forward to each new book and anytime you tour and visit St. Louis, I WILL find you! I love your blog and following your family. I enjoy your characters growth and I do not need a bedroom manual, so I enjoy not knowing everything. I read dead tree books, ebooks and love listening to audio books. I also adhere to “Live and let live.” Thank you.

  16. I understand the situation when a family’s kid have the same first initial, I lived in family of 6 “B”s. But at least we all knew how it started, my oldest brother was a Junior, and to keep the confusion to a minimum, Mom started calling him Benny. I was named for Mom, Elizabeth, but again, to lessen confusion was called Betsy. And it continued from there! Only issue I would have had calling twins names so close in sound is one my Mom experienced with all the “B”s. When one of us was in trouble, and Mom was upset enough that she couldn’t get the right name out, she’d start going down the list: Benny, Betsy, Bobby, Bonny, Billy and Brady! Heaven help the culprit, when she stopped with the nicknames and went to full Christian name. I knew I was in trouble when I heard “Elizabeth Dian”! Ahh, family memories…

  17. Once again, right on. I have never liked double standards. With civility, one has the right to speak. Even if they are a conservative. Behavior always counts in my book.
    As far as all the names starting with the same letter, I was the last of 6. Not one of us had a name that could be related. My mother had to go down her list to get the right one. Did it again with all the grandkids. I had one child so didn’t have that problem. Didn’t seem to with my grandchildren but now that they are adults, I mix them up sometimes.

    I read your books as they came into the library or bookstores. Then I went to a book signing in So Cal. Seeing you were older, tall, etc. (as I was), and appreciating your life story, I kept buying. Everyone that came out. I no longer will be getting books from Amazon and will probably rely on my library but you are the exception, I will still find somewhere to buy your books because I enjoy them so. Thank you and continued success.

  18. I love your writing. Your writing reflects real life; that’s why it’s so compelling and interesting. And naming our characters, creating the fictional towns, places, and geography is part of the fun of being a fiction writer. It is frustrating that people cannot enjoy and allow for all the differences we have among us. We’re not all the same, and that’s the spice that adds to making and living an interesting life, and writing intriguing, touching, and suspense-filled mysteries. Keep up the GREAT work. You inspire others, you entertain many more than you offend. From years of teaching, I learned that the one person in the room who didn’t like the way things were (often because they just liked to complain and challenge), were not nearly as important as those in the room (most of the others) who were engaged and felt comfortable commenting or disagreeing without feeling the need to tear down or diminish anyone else. You’re right up there at the top of my favorites.

  19. I love all your books. The only concern I have about Leland is that he is older and sometime you may decide that his work here is done. I will be sad. I do like romance and suspense romance but love the fact that your books give the characters their privacy and focus on the mystery instead. I can loan your books out without worrying about being embarrassed.

  20. I absolutely LOVE your books. I started reading the Joanna Brady series. I loved the series and decided they were my favorite. I picked up a J.P. Beaumont book by mistake; read it and changed my mind about my favorite!! Well, why not check out Ali Reynolds? I’m a mess! I loved them all! Now they make me want to visit Arizona and Seattle (again)! Thank you so much.

  21. One of the things I like about your books (all series equally) is the paucity of “Cardboard” characters. Since I didn’t read the Ali Reynolds series on order, Imagine my surprise when I figured out Leyland was gay, and it was confirmed when I read a book I had skipped over. Your books are about “real people” going through life the best way they know how. Some have way more baggage than others, but they are all doing their best to handle what life hands out. Not super heroes, or super humans (in the tradition of EE Smith), but people with warts and blemishes just trying to figure things out. Sometimes I wonder if some folks don’t like to read about good people who just happen to be gay because they are afraid they will begin to think of gays as just regular people, which conflicts with the things they have been taught about things like that being Sinful and Ugly. In my tiny mind I imagine that those same people do not want to apply critical thinking skills to other things they have been taught that they suspect might be wrong, it’s just easier to let other people tell them what they should feel and how they should react.

    When the issue of Gay marriage came under discussion a few years ago, I tried to figure out why people claimed that allowing two committed people who happened to be of the same sex get married was supposed to make a mockery of my “traditional” marriage. Still haven’t figured it out. In the meantime, I have made the acquaintance of, and become good friends with, some fine people who just happen to be gay. My life would be poorer if I denied myself the privilege of knowing these people just because they were gay.

  22. In our family we have 3 “M” names – Mom (or Merlin, my dad), Melody and Marlon and 3 “D” names, Dad (or Donna, my mom), Deb and Denise. I think all families with more than one child have had their mother go through the litany of names, including pet names, to get to the right name. And it’s an unwritten rule of growing up that if they used your given name instead of nickname (Debra, instead of Debbie) you were in trouble, but not too bad. If it got to middle name (Debra Rene) you were in serious trouble, and if it got to ALL THREE names, you might as well just as well resign yourself to being grounded FOR LIFE and probably a few swats as well! LOL

  23. I am very happy that you stay out of the bedroom when things are happening. I would not enjoy your books as much. There are times when I wish you would think and type faster, as I want to know what is going on in all my friends’ lives. I agree on letting people live their own life as long as I am not paying their bills or having something like their bedroom scene played out in front of me. I want to know “nothing.”

  24. I’ve read this and am scratching my head over the comments that have been made. One of the biggest things that you have going for you in your writing is the way you treat your characters with respect. Also thanks for leaving what goes on in the bedroom in the bedroom. I’m not reading for descriptions of folks having sex. I want a story, and you give me a great one every time.

  25. Thank you for posting this. I have been an avid fan since i moved to Seattle from Phoenix in 96.

    I was having such a hard time figuring out where things were here and truly bored to death on the bus lines, a friend suggested I pick up one of your books from the Beaumont series so I did. It took 1 chapter to be hooked. I live reading all your books i find real people in them and feel they are the kind of people I like having around me. Every time you mentioned a place or area in your book I would take a drive and go find the spot and familarize myself with my new home. Not only did you teach me about Seattle but you have a wonderful way if taking your readers on awesome adventures and keave us wanting more.

    You are an incredibly talented and witty writer that makes me want to try to figure the mystery out before the characters.

    So in short I am sorry some people need everything spelled out for them I agree with you there ate some things that doesn’t need to be seen by everyone privacy and tolerance are definitely on short supply these days.

    Thank you for being who you are and for sharing your wonderful talent with us I hope I get a chance to meet you in person one of these days, maybe at a book signing in Seattle or something.

    Thank you for sharing your adventures with us

    Happy New Year

    Mary

  26. I really enjoyed this post. Must admit. It gave me a good laugh. What is that old saw. You can please some of the people some of the time. But most of the people none of the time. I have a younger sister like that. No matter what anyone says or does. It’s never right. My Dad was a live and let live kind of guy. He’d always stressed that everyone has a right to their own opinion. It doesn’t agree with yours? So what. Do the best you can with what you have. Just remember. The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. It’s all about attitude. our lives are based on our attitude, our choices. Nothing, and no-one is responsible for our choices but us. No one can live our lives for us. Not our parents, past friends, past bullies, the school, the job, the environment. We have the right to say what goes on in our life. Your value does not decrease just because someone cannot see your worth. Don’t remember how often he’d say that or something like it. I have read almost everyone of your books, between the Library and mainly the used book store. And I deeply appreciate that you keep somethings private. What goes on between consenting adults IS private. And should stay that way. Like you said. It is a matter of respect. Respect for each other and for those around you. And should not be for public consumption. I am looking forward to your next release and want to thank you for many hours of enjoyable reading.

  27. I once read a book that basically said WHAT YOU THINK OF ME IS NOT MY PROBLEM. I know that you try not to insult any one group of people and you do a good job of it. I have no talent when it comes to writing a book. My talent is finding good authors. You are one of the best. So keep doing what you do best writing WONDERFUL books. If I had any issues it would be that we could not clone your mind so we would get more books and you would not have to work so hard.. Have a WONDERFUL WEEK… JAN

    • I wish I had kept score of how many people I’ve told….. “You like mysteries, do I have an author for you!!” & I started that when it was just Beaumont!!! Thank you for making your characters so alive & believable!!

  28. I was married to a woman who was one of a family of sisters named (in birth order): Virginia, Violet, Valora, Vonnie, and Velda. When I read your Friday’s account, I just HAD to relate that!
    Keep up the good work with the steps, and news about your interests. I’ve missed your visits to Bellingham WA

  29. I pretty much agree with all the comments……….. especially live and let live.. enough negativity in our world these days.. no need to pile it on. you are a simply wonderful writer and I wish I could meet Ali, Leland, Joanna etc. in person. I KNOW they live somewhere and I’d just like to invite them to lunch with me and you, if you’d join us. Until then, I’ll be reading and waiting for the next adventure. I must say I was little sad to lose Eleanor and the wonderful Dr. in that awful way.. made me feel lonely for them. The struggle Joanna had with her Mother’s criticism made that character so real.. why did you decide to get rid of them????? still sad about them being gone. Happy 2017. Muriel Jamison

  30. I have been a fan for many years and enjoyed every single book. It helps to be able to related to all of the locations that are the background for the stories.

  31. I have been a fan for many years and enjoyed every single book. It helps to be able to related to all of the locations that are the background for the stories, I was born and raised in Arizona, my mom lived in the Seattle area and my sister lives not far from Sedona.
    Many of my ancestors were involved with the mining in and around the Bisbee area. Your stories are always intriguing. Thank you, I will be waiting for the next book.

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