Thursday, July 16, 2015

Guest Blog and Giveaway with Mia Kerick

Hello to my friends at Creatively Green Write at Home Mom! Thank you very much for welcoming me to your blog to discuss my new YA LGBTQ contemporary humorous fiction release, Love Spell that features a gender fluid teenage boy. Today I will tell you why I chose to write a novel that deals with such a difficult subject.

“As far back as he can remember, Chance has been ‘caught between genders.’ (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.)” 

The above is a quotation from Love Spell’s blurb, which points out that Chance César’s gender identity is quite fluid. Some days, seventeen-year-old Chance feels as if his inner identity is male, which is in line with the sex he was born as, and other days he feels as if his true self is female. His uncertainty confuses him. In fact, it haunts him. And he is not alone in feeling haunted by his uncertainty with regard to his gender identity. In the real world, many transgender and gender non-conforming people experience pain and confusion, leading an over proportionate percentage of this population to attempt suicide.

I recently read some information in an article from the Los Angeles Times (January 28, 2014) that I think you’ll agree is disturbing.  “A whopping 41% of people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming have attempted suicide sometime in their lives, nearly nine times the national average….” This piece of information was gathered in a study several years ago. The LA Times article went on to explain that in a new study, there is more startling information.  “Researchers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that the risk of attempting suicide was especially severe for transgender or gender nonconforming people who had suffered discrimination or violence, such as being physically or sexually assaulted at work or school.
Among transgender people who became homeless because of bias against their gender identity, 69% said they had tried to kill themselves. Out of those who had been turned away by a doctor because they were transgender or gender-nonconforming, 60% had attempted suicide sometime in their lives, the survey found.”

These statistics are horrifying and unacceptable.

I am sure that you are aware of the recent news stories about transgender teenagers who have commited suicide.

Leelah’s story.

When Leelah (Joshua Alcorn) informed her parents that she wanted to live as a girl, they refused to accept it on religious grounds. Although they told her they loved “him” unconditionally, conditions were clearly imposed by her conservative Christian parents.

Leelah was struck by a tractor-trailer on the interstate highway four miles from her home in an apparent suicide. Included in Leelah’s suicide note was this message, "Please don't be sad, it's for the better. The life I would've lived isn't worth living in ... because I'm transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy's body, and I've felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally 'boyish' things to try to fit in."

Leelah suffered needlessly. She suffered alone. She believed, as do so many others in her shoes, that life as a transgender person isn’t worth living. And she ended her life before she had a chance to find out.

Let’s look at another story in the news….

Taylor’s story.

Taylor was also a transgender high school girl, driven to suicide by bullying at school and online. “I’ve lost tons of friends, tons. And it’s been hell. I go to school every day, and I get my lunch and I sit down alone.” ( Feeling isolated and hopeless, she felt suicide was the only solution.

Blake’s story.

Blake Brockington, a transgender activist, also found the solution to his troubles by ending his life.

Blake was a fighter who had seemingly pushed through his pain, past the disapproval of family and friends, to the point that he was a role model. In fact, Blake was South Carolina’s first transgender high school homecoming king. As an activist he was interviewed in by the Charlotte Observer, and he detailed the difficulty he had in coming out to his family and friends, many of whom he had lost contact with.  Blake was open about his struggles, which could have been a contributing factor to his vulnerability.

He also ended his young life.

Ash has a tragic story that ends with his suicide.

As does Zander.

And Melonie.

*More than 50% of Transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday. (Youth Suicide Prevention Program)

Some of these trans teens experienced no acceptance of their gender identity by family and friends in their short lives. Others experienced a degree of acceptance from either family or friends, but often not from both. These kids have grown up suffering with the deep confusion of being intrinsically  “wrong”. This underlying feeling of being in conflict with society due to their very nature—in conflict with their religious beliefs, societal expectations, family values, and more—is not something that every teen can endure. Despite the fact that a transgender teen appears to have accepted him or herself, the pain of being somehow unnatural or immoral is too great to endure. And it seems like a perilous moment arrives for many of them during which the pain cannot be tolerated.

Chance César, the main character in my new release Love Spell, is a 17-year-old boy who has struggled with gender confusion for as long as he can remember. Driven to conduct online research to find a label for his gender identity, Chance has come to the conclusion that, despite the fact that he feels like a girl as often as he feels like a boy, he does not want to physically transition to become a woman, nor does he want to fully live his life as a woman. Nonetheless, he experiences an urge to define himself—an urge that causes further turmoil in his mind, as he is unable to categorize his gender into one of the two predetermined binary genders. Despite his inability to draw a conclusion of “what he is” in terms of gender, he finds that building a relationship with Jazz Donahue, and learning to focus on the less surface issues in his life, leads him in the direction of self-acceptance.

Chance is sassy and snarky but he is as vulnerable as a teenage boy can be. With few friends and apathetic parents, his gender identity issues wreak havoc with his sense of security in life.

Could a series of negative circumstances cause Chance to seek refuge the same way that Leelah and Taylor and Blake did, by ending a life filled with confusion and ridicule and shame? Societal awareness of this situation is the first step in preventing this kind of tragedy. And that is why I wrote a story about what is a touchy subject.

Love Spell
Mia Kerick

Contemporary Romantic Comedy

Publisher: CoolDudes Publishing

Date of Publication: June 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1511831857

Number of pages: 123
Word Count: 44,300

Cover Artist: Louis C Harris

Book Description: 

Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.

As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”

But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.

An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (and a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.

Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.

Available at Amazon


Not to say that I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days, but I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days. Yes, I was oh-so-pathetically waiting for his call, which I am aware fully explains the need for the phrase “get a life.” But Jazz hadn’t been at school on the Thursday or Friday after he had called and cancelled our playdate, and now it’s Sunday night, and I still haven’t heard from him. And although I’m frustrated that all of my elaborate plans to make him fall head over heels in love with moi have apparently tanked, I’m also growing genuinely concerned.
 That’s when my cell phone, which I placed on my chest before I lay down on my now “love-spell-pink” wrapped mattress, starts singing Express Yourself.
 “Yo.” I don’t check the number. It’s Emmy—who else would it be?
 “Hi, Chance.” The deep voice is so not Emmy’s.
 Yaaassss!!! This is what ninety-nine percent of my insides shout. One percent says quietly, “It’s about frigging time you called, asshole.”
 But my voice is calm. “Jasper,” I say blandly. In my opinion, he hasn’t earned the right to be called Jazz any longer.
 “Um, sorry, no. It’s Jazz.”
 I try not to roll my eyes even though I know he won’t see, but it’s an epic fail. “Whatever.”
 “I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch for a couple days. My mom’s been real sick. I was lookin’ after her, gettin’ her to the doctor, goin’ to the pharmacy, bringing JoJo back and forth to school, and stuff.”
 “Mom caught JoJo’s strep throat and had to go to the ER because she couldn’t even swallow.” He stops talking for a second and then clears his voice. “Alls she could do was spit into a rag whenever she needed to swallow.”
 Well, that’s definitely TMI, but I get the fucker-nelly revolting picture. “I’m sorry.”
 “Not your fault, dude.”
 And then there’s silence.
 “Gonna take JoJo to the library after school tomorrow. But first I gotta stop by the cable company and pay up or we’re gonna lose our TV and internet at home. They already warned us like twice.”
 “Want me to pick up Yolo at school and take her to the library?” I’m so freaking pissed off at him. Why am I offering to save his ass again?
 “That’s cool of you to offer, but there’s a bus she can take to the library from her school. Could ya be waiting for her at the library, in case I get held up?”
 “Of course.” I’m a Class A sucker.
 “You’re such a cool pal.” Ugh—so not what I’m going for.
 “I’m not gonna be at lunch tomorrow seein’ as I’ll probably be collecting my makeup work. So, I’ll see ya at the library. ‘Kay?”
 I don’t say kkkk cuz it’s not even slightly cool. “Sure. The libes after school, it is.”
 “Thank you, bro,” Jazz offers.
 One more silence, and then I say, “Later.”

 I have research to do.
About the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, CoolDudes Publishing, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

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Mia kerick said...

Thank you for hosting me on your blog today!

Mia kerick said...

So happy to visit your blog today!