Love Conquers All by Heather Blackmore

bsb_like_jazz__24999Congratulations to Jo. She won a signed copy of Like Jazz from Heather Blackmore.

Check it out y’all, author Heather Blackmore stopped by to discuss the real life factors that go in to deciding between publishing under a pen name or not. Confession, I totally cried when I read this. My life experiences are eerily similar to Heather’s.

Heather’s debut novel, Like Jazz, was released this month from Bold Strokes Books. Want to check it out (I do!)? You can pick up a copy HERE. Check out her website HERE. Or be friends on facebook HERE.

Now, here’s the exciting part! Heather is giving away a signed copy of Like Jazz! Woo! Want to enter the drawing? Just leave a comment down there in the comment section. I’ll draw the winner Friday, 12/13/2013 some time. And I’ll post the winner’s information here at the top of this post, as well as contacting her (or him) via email. Good luck!

Love Conquers All
by Heather Blackmore

Publish under a pseudonym, or not? Seems like an easy question, but it’s not necessarily so simple. Like Jazz is a lesbian romance. While that doesn’t mean the author is gay, in my case it’s true. There are considerations. I’m in a conservative profession. There are members of my extended family I’m not even out to (although in this age of social media, I guess I am now). But most importantly, by putting my name on this book, I feel I’m somehow bringing my mother into the equation.

After I came out to my parents in the early 90’s, we struggled with it for years. I grew up Catholic in a very politically conservative home. (I talked a little about this a few weeks ago on the Bold Strokes Books Authors’ blog, “Voluptuous Catholic Paramours.” Read that HERE.) Especially for my mom, having a lesbian for a daughter was a terribly cruel thing, disappointing and shameful. Part of it was that she worried about my physical safety (think Matthew Shepard); part of it was that she was embarrassed by, and angry with me for (what she felt was) making her seem like a bad mother in front of her family and friends—as if I was gay by some failing on her part; part of it was wrong in her religious view. She told me never to say anything to certain family members because they would disown me.

We fell into a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” routine for years. It worked more or less, but not without consequences. How sad to say I didn’t even tell my parents when I got married in 2003—one of the most important days of my life.

My mom died unexpectedly in 2004. We never got a chance to fully heal together, to forgive and let go.

But we’d made progress. Took baby steps. She knew about my “roommate” though we never acknowledged the obvious. Mom even invited her over for Thanksgiving. My parents made a trip to visit us after we purchased our first home together, about seven months before Mom died.

Funny thing. At Mom’s celebration of life, one of my cousins—Mom’s niece—told me to come visit and to bring Shelly. My cousin was telling me she knew very well that Shelly wasn’t just my roommate, and she was welcoming me—us—with open arms. That same afternoon, her father (Mom’s brother) told me the same thing: come visit, bring Shelly. I get tearful remembering how wonderful it felt to have these family members—Mom’s family—love and embrace me unconditionally, mere days after Mom would never be able to see or hear it.

None of my family has disowned me. They’ve accepted and loved me. Even if they don’t all get it, they’ve met Shelly and know what a great person I’ve married.

In an interesting parallel, my wife’s experience has been similar to mine. She grew up in a conservative Catholic home, and her relationship with her mother survived via “don’t ask, don’t tell” for years. Over time, the fact that Shelly and I are together has become of less and less consequence. Our siblings and their spouses have helped reduce the friction with our parents, since it’s just not a big deal to them. The majority of U.S. society has come to receive same-sex relationships. Shelly’s mother, who has always treated me with kindness, has come to accept me. She invites me to family gatherings and goes out of her way to make me feel welcome. I do.

Since our mothers were on a similar path, I like to think that my mom would have gotten to the same place as my wife’s mother. Dad would have probably helped. A few months ago during a phone call, he asked, “And how is your beloved?” Thanks, Dad.

I’m proud of Like Jazz. I don’t know what Mom would think of it or my decision to publish under my real name, but I’m taking cues from my father and mother-in-law. Both want to read the book, and my dad pre-ordered it in support of me.

Mom would be upset with me for this blog, telling private things to a bunch of strangers. I get that. But the point of saying where we started from is to show how far we’ve come—or would have come, if given a little more time. It’s actually a perfect theme for a Romance: “Love conquers all.” It does, or in our case, it would have. I’m certain of it.

Mothers are amazing creatures. My mother-in-law’s love for her children is an astounding, powerful, resilient thing. Ditto for my mom. Mom loved me. Somehow, from somewhere, she still does…

Even if she might have preferred that Like Jazz be written under the nom de plume of, say, Heather Whiteless.

Heather Blackmore’s debut novel, Like Jazz, is
now available from Bold Strokes Books.

22 comments

  1. Heather, thank you for demonstrating an amazing ability to give grace, to keep loving and waiting. You must be a true romantic :). You set a good example. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  2. Bravo, Heather. I too took the bold step to use my real name on my upcoming debut. And I believe ( hope) my family will be accepting once they. know about it since I’ve been out for years and accepted.. Can’t wait to read your story of how love conquers all.

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  3. Heather,

    I am completing my first novel and agonizing over whether or not to use my birth name. My mother, who is still alive would object I am sure. My father, who passed away 5 years ago would probably be fine with it.

    I admire you for your courage. I’m just not sure I have the same courage.

    Denise

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  4. It is one of my biggest regrets that my mother didn’t get to meet my partner, and only knew my lesbian side when I was with a woman who was, in hind sight, not a good person but I wasn’t able to see it at that time. My mother could though. Don’t they always? While I don’t have a horrific coming out story and I certainly was never disowned by my family, I really think things would be different if my mom had been able to see who I became once I found the right person, and I think that would have changed her perspectives so that while being gay was not one of the things that my mother ever expected me to be, it doesn’t change who I am. I think I would be different if we had been able to go through that process together.

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  5. Really enjoyed the blog post. Thanks, Heather! And thanks for sharing your story. For all of us who have struggled with family acceptance, it is always interesting to hear of other stories. My family is not very accepting, never met my wife and will probably never meet her. But, we have found some sort of detente and manage to hold together a relationship, albeit not the one I really would prefer, but something. Thanks, again. Looking forward to reading the book.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your story, Heather. I’m sure the decision to share the story and to use your real name wasn’t easy. I’m looking forward to reading your book.

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  7. Good on you Heather, as we Aussies say. I can’t wait to read it. I also just published a novella on amazon under a pseudonym simply because although my mother is cool with me being gay I dont really think she’s ready for certain romantic scenes lol. She doesn’t even know I wrote it. Best of luck to you!

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  8. What a heartfelt Blog, thank you for sharing with us. I am really looking forward to reading your book and wish you and your wife all the best for the future.

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  9. Very well put; I think you’ve articulated what so many of us have gone through. Wonderful! Looks like another book to put on my ever-growing list……..

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  10. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think many people can find similarities in the acceptance with their family or their partners families. I am glad that you chose your real name.

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  11. Wonderful post, Heather; thank you for sharing so much. I look forward to reading Like Jazz during my Holidays read-athon.

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  12. As an aspiring author, I think about this a lot, but mostly in relation to having my name connected to the kinds of things I write when future employers Google me. My family mostly accepts me, though.

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