An avalanche of ideas about fictitious characters, themes, and plots used to arrive at my doorstep with regularity. A newspaper article, a conversation with a friend, a snatch of dialogue overheard in a restaurant were all that I needed to jump start the wheels in my brain. Then, along came the powerful whammy of experiencing one of life’s more difficult events as I continued skipping along the road to “maturity.”
The desire to write fiction hasn’t lessened, but the rush of new ideas has slowed. Adding flesh to the bones of creative inspirations is more like painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel than drawing hopscotch lines on the sidewalk.
You’ll recall, dear readers, that the former work of art took a very long time, while the latter could be accomplished post haste.
I’m still on the alert for aural and visual stimuli in all the above mentioned places. These days, though, my best ideas seem to come to me while I’m in the shower. Perhaps the cause is the sound coming from the radio broadcasting the semi-somnolent voices of NPR’s newsreaders, or maybe it’s the steady stream of water gushing over my head and clearing the space needed for new ideas. I don’t question the process. I simply try to take advantage of it.
One morning last August (2016,) as I watched the last of the shampoo suds spiral toward the drain, I received the gift of an idea for a book. The Pulse Nightclub tragedy was no longer a segment of the daily news, but I remained mired in my slow-motion reaction to the massacre. I recalled listening to Anderson Cooper as he tried to explain the symbolism inherent in murdering LGBTQ people in a gay bar. I understood his plaintive explanation, but I doubted most of his CNN audience did. Anderson’s efforts to help others comprehend the depth of our collective mourning lit a pathway in my imagination.
What was/is the importance of the gay bar in the lives of the LGBTQ community? What role, if any, did/does that setting play in our lives?
I knew I wanted to create a written record of the many conversations we could share about gay bars. I knew also that I wanted to invite another experienced writer to help me collect and assemble the stories and poems that were no doubt out there. I approached Lee Lynch, an author whom I respect and a friend whose literary voice I trust.
Thankfully, Lee endorsed the book’s concept and agreed to work with me. Moreover, she agreed that we would donate all of the book’s royalties to two organizations that provide much needed services to LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia and in New York City.
Our respective publishers gave us their blessings, and Patty Schramm, who was busy establishing her publishing venture, Flashpoint Publications, offered us her professional services, gratis. The other writers, editors, and the cover artist who contributed their time and efforts to this anthology are Nann Dunn, Lori L. Lake, and Ann McMan.
It is the cast of contributing writers to whom Lee and I are indebted. They took our idea, molded it to fit their particular genre, spent their time crafting a short story, poem, or memoir piece, and then entrusted their work to us.
Our readers will recognize quite a few of the authors’ names, and they will have an opportunity to discover new, talented voices.
On the cusp of publication, I am filled with gratitude for Lee’s enthusiastic and unselfish participation, for the encouragement we received from our respective spouses, Vivian and Elaine, and for the good fortune I’ve had to read stories and poetry told from so many different perspectives. I am especially proud of the diversity of our book’s contributors. They represent inclusion vis-à-vis their ethnic identities, gender identities and expressions, ages, and nationalities.
More than anything else, I am proud, as is Lee, to offer OUR HAPPY HOURS – LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS to as wide a readership as possible.
OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 9, 2017
Renée Bess is the author of five novels, all published by Regal Crest Enterprises. Two of her short stories are in Canadian LGBT anthologies, four of her poems are published in HER VOICE, presented by Lesbian Memoirs. Two new poems are included in next January’s SINISTER WISDOM – 107 -BLACK LESBIANS: WE ARE THE REVOLUTION. Once a month Renée blogs right here at Women and Words. You can read about and contact Renée via her website, http://www.reneebess.com