Lori Henriksen

author of The Winter Loon


Leave a comment

Goldie Awards

 

A few days ago I attended the the Golden Crown Literary Society Conference held in 110 degrees, Las Vegas. Whew! I didn’t step outside for three days.

Every year this amazing group of lesbian fiction writers get together to  learn from each other. I attended great classes and panel discussions with the best take away being the support, rather than competition, these women feel for each other. In that vein, I offer my congratulations to the winning authors in the Debut and Historical categories.

Even though a finalist in both those categories, The Winter Loon didn’t take home a Goldie award, but I still feel like a winner and am honored to be in the company of these fine writers.

In the Debut category the Goldie awards went to:

 

 

 

 

 

And the winner in the Historical category is:

 

 

You can check out all the rest of the 2018 winners here:

https://www.goldencrown.org/page/2018Winners

and all the finalists here:

https://www.goldencrown.org/page/2018Finalists

Thanks for stopping by.


Leave a comment

Dishtowels, Dandelions, and Deception

682e1612-d658-482f-800f-afcd9d0e834a

On my home page, I say that I believe in synchronicity. For something to be synchronistic and not just coincidence, unrelated events are more than just mere chance. Here’s something that happened last week after I decided to jump back into blogging and set up an Instagram account.

Many years ago I had a dishtowel that I remembered said, “One man’s flower is another man’s weed,” attributed to Tennyson. Fast forward to my launch on Instagram. Not long ago, I learned that dandelions are the first source of nourishment for bees in the spring. Every year in the past I’ve grumbled about the dandelions taking over the grass. For the last week, the bright yellow flowers I’ve always thought of as a weed, have been in full bloom. I took a photo and decided to make my first instagram post about bees and dandelions.

I wanted to say: “To mow or not to mow . . . ” and then add the quote from my long-lost dishtowel. A little voice warned me to be accurate—it was a long time ago and maybe it wasn’t Tennyson. A quick Google search: Tennyson—One Man’s Weed led me to his lovely poem the Flower. My memory kicked in, it was the first stanza on the towel I remembered, not the quote I wanted to use.

Once upon a golden hour
I cast to earth a seed
Up there came a flower
The people said a weed.

IMG_0211

Back to Google and who said the quote I remembered about weeds. I had several choices and for no particular reason, chose Susan Wittig Albert who said, “One person’s weed is another person’s wildflower.” She is the award-winning author of many books, including Loving Eleanor, a book I read as part of my research while writing The Winter Loon. I mentioned the book and it’s importance to history in a blog on April 5, 2016. You can read it here.

I don’t think it is mere chance that the memory of my old dishtowel led me to my first post on Instagram that led me to Susan Wittig Albert that led me to my old blog post called Deception and the insight that it gives to Ruth’s character as she embarks on her journey of self-discovery in The Winter Loon.

Synchronicity, the seed that grew into this post.

I’d love to hear about synchronicity in your life. It can be something simple like this post all the way to something life changing.

Thanks for stopping by.

IMG_0597

 

 

 

 


3 Comments

PRIDE MONTH

200In 1970 Pride was a political movement to voice demands for LGBT equal rights and protections. As Pride is now celebrated worldwide, itis important toremember that June was chosen to commemorate the Stonewall riots which occurred the end of June 1969 in Manhattan. The month of June is a time to celebrate and honor people from the LGBTQ+ community. It is a time to reflect and continue to fight against discrimination that still occurs and threatens the hard-earned right to marry, to live and work where one choses and shop without the risk of prejudice.

It is pure serendipity that my book The Winter Loon debuts during Pride Month. I missed several self-imposed deadlines for publication and finally in mid-June this year my book is on Amazon available for purchase.

THE WINTER LOON is inspired by my mother, who died when I was nine and who had divulged very little information about her life, refusing even to answer any questions about my biological father. Estranged from her family, she moved across the country from the Midwest to California, ending up in a remote area of the Mojave Desert far from the nearest town. From my earliest memories, the two of us lived as a family with her woman companion until shortly before her death. Some of the things she left behind were a few photos, a newspaper clipping of her as a rodeo competitor, and her master’s degree certificate from the 1930s.

When I started writing, my purpose of embarking on a healing journey gradually transformed into this novel about a young woman who struggles to define herself in a world where she does not seem to fit. As I envisioned how my mother’s life might have been if she was able to live her authentic truth, I realized how much, and how little, has changed for the LGBTQ+ community. It is my hope that this story about the healing power of love will positively influence anyone who reads it.

 


10 Comments

Queer

Q

This post is a short and incomplete history of the word Queer. (Becoming Visible, An Illustrated History of Lesbian and Gay Life In Twentieth-Century America; Molly McGarry and Fred Wasserman gives an in-depth history through the 1990s.)

The characters in The Winter Loon live in an era where women who formed lifelong partnerships would not have considered or called themselves queer and most likely not even lesbian. It was an era when articles, vice reports, psychologists like  Havelock Ellis, and authors like Radcliffe Hall who wrote The Well of Loneliness, used terms like pervert, deviant, and invert to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. It was an era when same-sex  partners, seeking to live, work and play as productive citizens, kept their love  and lives hidden.

I can’t imagine how difficult and frightening it must have been to live a concealed life in that era. It is especially close for me because I wrote The Winter Loon based on what I knew of my mother’s life. She was a rodeo performer, a clinical psychologist and always had a woman companion who I believe was her lover during the Thirties and Forties. I wanted to explore and write a novel that shined a light on how different life was in the 1930s for lesbians.

During World War II, thousands of lesbians and gay men met others like themselves and began to realize they were part of a larger group.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/5/25/1094817/-Remembering-LGBT-History-How-World-War-II-Changed-Gay-and-Lesbian-Life-in-America

In 1951, Donald Webster Cory wrote a book called The Homosexual in America. He observed that most homosexuals at the time hid their sexuality because of shame and fear of social persecution. He stated that only when people dared to be open could others do the same. A few courageous people took the challenge, but persecution and fear held more back.

There were changes during the 1960s with the Stonewall Riots and demonstrations for Equality for Homosexuals. Gay liberation was threatened by society’s definition of homosexuality as a mental illness until 1974. Anger spilled over in the decade of the Seventies. In the 1980s and 1990s the AIDS epidemic led to political activism in the gay community. The Nineties became the Year of the Queer.

We’re here! We’re queer!

We’re fabulous! Get used to it!

~Queer Nation Chant

Queer Nation is an LGBT activist organization founded in New York City in March 1990 by AIDS activists from ACT UP New York (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). Those who rejected the terms gay and lesbian as too limiting and mainstream, proudly adopted the self-designation, queer. Diversity has been a source of strength for activism and the controversy continues as lives, attitudes and politics change.

The Twenty-first century so far carries on the tradition of changing labels and use of terms to describe the LGBT community. Today, LGBTQ+ represents the diverse experiences of people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and allies.

PFLAG

Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the nation’s largest family and ally organization. Uniting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) with families, friends, and allies, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality and full societal affirmation of LGBTQ people through its threefold mission of support, education, and advocacy. Find out more at:

http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid=191#sthash.F4lTj4o6.dpuf

A definition of “Queer” from PFLAG:

https://community.pflag.org/abouttheq

 

 

200.gif


6 Comments

Politics

 

 

P.jpg

During the 1930s, Women made great gains in politics and government. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal represented a time of questioning and economic readjustment.

As New Deal Programs were implemented, women were appointed to high administrative positions. These women appointees worked on behalf of less fortunate women hurt by the Depression. Many positions were firsts for women: Cabinet member, Director of the Mint, Ambassador, and Judge to the Court of Appeals. These appointments reflected favorably on women active in public life.

Three women, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, and Molly Dewson, a politician and social reformer, were the main instigators of progress for women in politics during the era of the New Deal.

 

dewson_er.jpg

Frances_Perkins_TIME_FC_1933

Frances Perkins

Molly Dewson was a well educated feminist politician who worked hard at social reform for women. Before coming to work for the New Deal, she promoted The Women’s Suffrage Movement, minimum wage reform and limited work hours. She was a confidant of Mrs. Roosevelt and an advisor to Frances Perkins and friend of both. She developed the Reporter Plan, an effort to involve women in understanding the New Deal.

Due to heart problems, she retired in 1936. She lived out her years until her death in 1962 on a dairy farm with her life partner, Mary G. Porter.

A novel, Beyond The Pale by Elana Dykewomon, set in the early 20th century is about the immigrant experience and the New York suffrage movement so dear to Molly Dewson.  It is a story of the courage of two young women born in a Russian-Jewish settlement who end up working in the New York garment factories. It is a story of love and devotion.  I recommend it not only as a powerful story, but also an education on the issues faced by women that moved the politically-minded women of the 1930s to work hard for social change. It’s available on Amazon.

5141+lYrEiL._AC_US160_

 


4 Comments

Kindred Spirits

K

Kindred Spirit ~ like minded, in harmony, compatible, soul mate

A kindred spirit is someone, a missing piece, who fits perfectly into the puzzle of our lives. A kindred spirit is someone we did not know was missing. A kindred spirit is someone we connect with before we know why or who they really are. It is a connection of energy, a positive connection that makes us feel good to be around them because we resonate on the same frequency.

In The Winter Loon, Ruth meets four kindred spirits.

Ruth is a loner who from the age of six prefers to spend time with her first kindred spirit, her horse, rather than make friends at school. Her Uncle Edward gave her the foal from his favorite mare. Ruth watched and assisted at the birth. When the foal stood for the first time she did a little dance and her coat was smooth as satin. Ruth named her Satin Dancer.

6a00e552088d2b883401774421b2b0970d-650wi

When Ruth is thirteen, a boy named Duke is assigned to sit next to her on his first day at her school. He is tall and skinny and draws magnificent, fierce looking horses instead of taking notes. It turns out he is afraid of horses. As they mature, they become sweethearts

A-true-friend-is-someone-who-sees-the-pain-in-your-eyes-while-everyone-else-believes-the-smile-on-your-face-–-Join-Me-On-Facebook-–-Inspirational-Picture-Quotes-About-Life

On the train heading for her first rodeo, Ruth meets Rollie, a seasoned cowgirl who rides every year on the same rodeo circuit. Rollie is probably in her forties to Ruth’s eighteen years. She sees something in Ruth right away that moves her to take Ruth under her wing.

                I introduced myself and said, “This is my first rodeo.”

               “I thought so. Welcome.” She reached out to shake my hand.

               “How can you tell?”

               “Sometimes you know things.” The leathery skin around her eyes crinkled when

               she smiled. ~From Chapter One of The Winter Loon

Together with Rollie, Ruth learns not only about rodeo culture, but also about life and herself.

images-4.jpeg

Ruth returns home from the rodeo less confident of where she belongs than before she left home. Her family and society expect her to marry Duke. After enrolling at the University of Minnesota and joining a sorority, she meets Gisela. Ruth sees Gisela for the first time through a window in the university library.

. . . A movement on the grass caught my attention. A woman appeared out of nowhere. With a long stride, she ascended the library steps two at a time, seeming to float toward the entrance.~from Chapter Ten of The Winter Loon

Both women are attracted to one another before they speak.

 

images.jpeg

 

* * *

If all the stars  and kindred spirits in my universe align, The Winter Loon will be available in June 2016 on Amazon.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 


7 Comments

Fairness

Fairness ~ Equitable, Honest, Upright, Honorable

Fairness is a continuation of Equality. Close, but somewhat different. To me, equality is a legal issue legislated by our elected government or the courts. Fairness is a social issue. Without it our society falls apart. We legislate equality, but fairness is a trait of a civilized society. Fairness is a close relative of the Golden Rule.

Many would say that what happened in the 1930s to women rodeo athletes  wasn’t fair. It’s the world Ruth, the protagonist in The Winter Loon finds herself when she leaves home at eighteen.

The challenge for a single woman to earn money often took inspiration and an adventurous spirit, life experience and a willingness to step out of her comfort zone. Inventive and flexible and even naive women such as Ruth discovered uncommon ways to survive.

cowgirl 2.jpg

Relaxing between rodeo events.

Popular throughout the Thirties, rodeo competitions offered cheap entertainment for small communities and provided an uncommon source of income for those able to compete on a rodeo circuit. Not many women qualified, but those willing to travel and endure harsh conditions could win substantial purses.

Rodeo tents.jpg

Rodeo performers often stayed in tents

Prior to 1930, Cowgirls had competed in all the same contests as men. Rodeo culture changed after a tragic 1929 accident at the Pendleton Roundup. A popular cowgirl, Bonnie McCarroll, was thrown and fatally trampled by the bronco she was riding. The Rodeo Association of America stepped in with a protective rather than an egalitarian rule to prohibit women from competing in what they considered dangerous—bronco riding, steer wrestling and roping contests—events with the highest purses. Some rodeo producers on small circuits ignored the regulations and allowed cowgirl events. Barrel racing, trick riding and relay races were the most common competitions for cowgirls.

By 1939, the singing cowboy, Gene Autry, took over most of the major rodeos and eliminated all women’s competitions except the sponsor-girl event of barrel racing.

 

 

 

 

 


27 Comments

Anecdotes

A

Anecdotes ~ Can be amusing or historical tales, urban myths or legends. There might be a fable, an allegory, a yarn about a character in my book.

During the 1920’s, the U.S. population let out a sigh of relief with the horror of WWI behind them. The automobile increased mobility.

Ruth on car

Radio and motion pictures started a new set of values. Hemlines rose. Loose and flowing clothing, colorful and free-spirited, ushered in the revolution of freedom in dress and morals. Women powdered their nose, rouged their cheeks and bobbed their hair. The Nineteenth Amendment passed giving women the right to vote. Corsets be damned. The archetypal female was now a flapper, not a suffragist.

The Twenties, full of crime and prohibition, introduced the blues and a casualness toward sexuality reflected in speakeasies and avant-garde society until the nonchalance of The Great Gatsby gave way to The Grapes of Wrath.

Hearts and minds closed as the U.S. in the Thirties turned away from a decade of optimism and entered the Great Depression. Hemlines dropped to mid-calf or just above the ankles. More modest, form-fitting styles with high necklines and wide shoulders were designed to enhance the often-elusive tall and slender look of the “ideal” Thirties woman. Surprisingly, during the hard economic times, cosmetic sales doubled.

The 1930s saw the tenth anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, but not equality. Women remained under represented in positions of political power. With a growing number of college graduates, women with degrees were often overlooked in business and academia.

Ada Comstock was the first Dean of Women at the University of Minnesota in 1907 and later President at Radcliffe until 1943. She reminisced in a 1940 speech about her early days as a Dean when, the efforts of women seeking higher education was still regarded more or less as a humorous thing, and an occasion for jokes.

The controversy over women attending college created a dilemma in an era where the proper role would have been marriage and children. Some folks believed that college-educated women made better wives. Almost always totally dependent on their husbands, an educated woman was thought to better complement a man as he progressed in his profession. Others felt that educated women were less likely to marry and would have difficulty supporting themselves with their education. The majority of women seeking to broaden their horizon turned to traditional professions in education, nursing or home economics.

graduates

Women who wanted to heed the motto of Smith College: Education is the key to the future, needed gumption. She needed moral support. She needed money.

Ruth and Gisela, characters in my novel The Winter Loon, meet at the University of Minnesota in 1932. Ruth pays her tuition with money she earns as a cowgirl on a traveling rodeo circuit.