UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER IN THE DRAWING! And that person is. . .MARIE FOOSE! WOOOO! Thanks, all, for playing! And stay tuned, cuz I’ve got another author lined up for NEXT FRIDAY. MUAH HA HA!
Hi, kids! OOOOOOO! Author Lynette Mae was kind enough to join me here at Women and Words for a chit-chat about her work and whatever else I threw at her (thanks, Lynette).
source: lynettemae.com (re-sized here)
So, readers. If you’re not familiar with Lynette or her work, allow me to enlighten you. Lynette grew up in Pennsylvania, one of six children. She enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 19. After an honorable discharge, she ended up in Florida where she decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. Working as a police officer fueled one of her other passions — writing. And gosh darn, she’s got some stories to tell. And when she’s not out on the streets keeping us safe or writing, she likes to spend her time engaged in physical pursuits like weight training and running or relaxing at home with her wife, dogs, and a book or two. Or three.
Lynette will be giving away a copy of her first book right here at Women and Words, Faithful Service, Silent Hearts. See below for the synopsis and cover. Here’s how it works. If you’d like in on the drawing, leave a comment on this post in which you state that you’d like in on the drawing. When you fill out the comment form prior to posting your comment, please make sure you include a valid email address. Don’t put the email address in the body of your comment (we’re trying to save you from spambots). And don’t worry. The merry elves will see your email in the back, but they totally won’t tell anybody what it is.
We’ll hold the drawing tomorrow (Saturday the 28th at 12 PM EST U.S.). Once we have a winner, we’ll post the winner’s name on this blog at the top. PLEASE CHECK so you know whether you won or not because sometimes, when I notify the winner at a provided email address, my email does not get through because of your spam filter. So if you win but you don’t hear from anybody at Women and Words for a day, check your spam filter. I notify within 30 minutes of a drawing.
Let’s go check out Lynette Mae’s books.
Her first published novel, Faithful Service, Silent Hearts, is a thriller starring Devon James, a bright young military officer in the 1980s. She soon realizes finding love is difficult, but moreso when it’s forbidden by military regs and you’re a target of a zealot. She’s reunited with an old college friend and the two of them become an intelligence team and couple. Their work takes them to the Middle East but when Devon returns home, she discovers that there are other battles she’ll have to fight.
source: lynettemae.com (re-sized here)
This here book is up for a giveaway!
Her second book is due out NEXT MONTH. Tactical Pursuit finds Devon James serving her community as a police corporal and SWAT officer. She’s still struggling to deal with the nightmares of her military service, and in the midst she meets a woman with whom she’d like to build a future. However, the prime suspect in a series of crimes has a connection to Devon’s nemesis from her army days, and she and fellow officer Erin “Mac” McKinley are faced with an adversary who will do whatever it takes to destroy Devon as they race to find a killer.
source: lynettemae.com (re-sized here)
All right. So let’s go hang out with Lynette Mae! You know you wanna!
ANDI: Hi, Lynette! Thanks for agreeing to hang out in the hot seat over here at Women and Words. Much appreciated. You and I met on a writer’s forum a few years back, and then we met in person at a GCLS conference in Orlando. I think that was the 2009 conference. I pick your brain a lot about police stuff (thanks!), but we also talk about writing and publishing and all that kind of stuff. I’ve also served as a beta reader for you on an early incarnation of your first published book, Faithful Service, Silent Hearts. So, readers, there you go. Full disclosure.
Now for some nitty-gritty. You have both a military and a law enforcement background, which is so completely awesome, and both are front and center in your current books. Which means, readers, that Lynette Mae knows whereof she speaks when she writes this stuff. What drew you to these fields as career tracks?
LYNETTE MAE: Ya know, Andi, like many young people, I came from a very modest background. My parents didn’t have money for college, and so my options were limited. But I knew I needed to do something. Not that I understood this about myself at the time, but I am the kind of person who needs to challenge and push my boundaries and abilities. So, I joined the army precisely for that reason — to obliterate my comfort zone. And I found out that I absolutely loved the United States Army. Except for that whole “we don’t accept lesbian and gay patriots” thing. I couldn’t square the desire I had to serve an institution that had a flat out disdain for me, so I had to go.
ANDI: Which so completely sucks. That is, it suckED when you were in, because that’s changed, as you are only too aware. I’ll chat more about that in a minute, but do carry on. Law enforcement?
LYNETTE MAE: As far as the cop thing. . .well, when I realized that I couldn’t stay in the military and live the lie they forced me to live, I got out and came to Tampa, where my father lived. About a year later, Tampa was aggressively hiring police officers. Because of my military experience, I thought, “Hey, I can do this!” I’d always kind of harbored a secret desire to pursue a cop career. . .so I went for it. And I have to tell you it was the most awesome thing I’ve ever done. I love being a cop.
ANDI: And I so love that you love it! Because I can pick your brain when I need to! What about this whole writing thing? Have you always wanted to do that? And is it something you’ve been doing all your life or was there a moment at some point that you thought, “Hey! I should write this down and make cool stories about cops and military people and the issues they face and things that affect them”?
LYNETTE MAE: Hell, yes! I’ve been writing since I was about ten. I used to write poetry a lot when I was a kid. The first story I ever wrote was in the 5th grade. It was what I guess we’d now call a fan-fic piece, using the cartoon character Mr. Magoo! LOL
ANDI: OMG. Mr. Magoo? Girl, you don’t even need to tell us anything else that readers might not know about you because that, right there, is super geek-awesomeness.
LYNETTE MAE: Anyway, I started writing more fiction-related stuff as I got older. About ten or fifteen years ago, I began writing about a character that later became Devon James. Devon’s character was a cop, but as I worked on actually learning to write, with the inkling of an idea to actually maybe do something with my writing (like publishing), I started developing a back-story for the character. I felt a natural history for a cop was someone with military service. Like me, I have lots of colleagues in law enforcement that started in the military. So, I thought it could work authentically, and things kind of developed naturally from there.
ANDI: And it shows, in Faithful Service. I’m sure it’ll keep showing in Tactical Pursuit, too. You bring a gritty, tense realism to your work, I’d argue, because of your military/law enforcement background. Do you sometimes feel you’re “too close” to the subject and you have to step back a bit and take a breather?
LYNETTE MAE: Hmm. . .yeah. I’ve found that the more dramatic and what I hope are gripping scenes in my stories have come from intensely personal events that I, or those close to me, have experienced. I try drawing upon first-hand events to capture the emotion of the scene and story. Sometimes the realism I’m striving for can be difficult. Then again, I know if it’s tapping into my emotions the reader will feel it, and that’s a good thing.
ANDI: That’s a really good point. I find that in some of the stuff that I write, if I’m trying to convey certain emotions and I’m drawing on my own experiences or the experiences of people I know and I re-live some of that, I do hope it translates to the page. I’d say that it definitely does in your work. Speaking of, your current books, 1 and 2 in a series, take place in the not-too-distant past. Book one opens in 1982, and book 2 opens in 1994. Your main character in book 1, Faithful Service, has to deal with serving during an era in which DADT didn’t exist formally yet, but whose tenets were in practice in the military. For those not in the know, that’s the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy directed at gay and lesbian servicemembers, implemented in 1992. In other words, serve your country but don’t you dare mention that you’re gay, or mention your partner or anything like that because if you do, your ass is outta here. So the plot for Faithful Service, especially, was set prior to even a whisper of the coming push for marriage equality, which wouldn’t even start until Hawaii, 1992.
Whew. On my soapbox. The obstacles gay servicemembers faced in the early 80s figure heavily in Book 1. Saying that, there are younger readers who are living in the midst of amazing shifts in public perceptions about LGBTQ people and their lives. If a younger reader were to read your book, and contacted you for your personal take about serving before the repeal of DADT, what would you tell him or her?
LYNETTE MAE: First, if they’re interested in learning our history, I would suggest the book Conduct Unbecoming: The History of Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military, by Randy Shilts. It’s one of the most comprehensive and detailed accounts of the history of LGBT servicemembers I’ve ever seen. There have been subsequent non-fiction works written since that book was released, but it remains a standard in my perspective.
ANDI: That is a wonderful book. It was published in 1995, so it’s not going to have anything about the end of DADT, but for a sense of what happened before it and a bit during it, give it a read. Shilts was a journalist, and his writing style will suck you in. He weaves personal stories into journalistic accounts in his books. He died in 1994, but I heard he actually dictated the last chapter of Conduct Unbecoming from his hospital bed. Intense. And speaking of intense, your own service?
LYNETTE MAE: Okay, so my own take on my military service before DADT, is this: Like many young people, the military gave me the chance to test my own mettle, learn about the value of service as a greater good, and get some sorely needed discipline along the way. However, in the days before DADT, there were no rules for investigators to follow. Lesbians and gays were unwanted, unprotected, and targeted. The only thing that mattered was removing us from military service, by any means necessary. That created a climate of fear among all of us. There was a very quiet, underground community, desperate to keep our identity secret. I lost friends simply because they didn’t want to be associated with another lesbian — even if it was only the slightest appearance. Sadly, sometimes the worst situation was lesbian and gay soldiers turning another in to save their own skin. I know it’s hard for younger folks to really grasp the hardships, but I want them to understand what their predecessors lived through, so hopefully they will appreciate the freedoms they enjoy now. The end of DADT was a watershed moment, but there’s still work to do. Also, I would urge them to not take any gains for granted at this point. Sadly, in this conservative backlash climate we live in, nothing is safe.
ANDI: Thank you. I did not serve in the military. If I had, it would have been about the same time you did, and it’s difficult to imagine the climate that you faced, though I think many of us who came of age in the 80s and even 90s (and hell, even now) can relate to feeling unsafe and keeping certain aspects of our lives private for fear of losing our jobs or friends or family or, worse, being subjected to violence. And yes, we have come a long way. But yes, you’re also correct in that we are experiencing a backlash. The two go hand in hand. For every step we take as LGBTQ people, there will always be a backlash, and there is definitely still work to do. I don’t ever take any gains we’ve made in terms of rights or human rights for granted. A lot of work was done to get to this point, but there’s more still to do.
LYNETTE MAE: But, the good news is this. I have found that in my own life, living authentically is paramount. We touch those around us one at a time, and only our honesty and integrity can change hearts and minds. Will there always be bigots and homophobes? You betcha. But it’s so much harder to hate somebody we know. Silence and hiding keeps the fear and bigotry entrenched. Be yourself. It’s amazing what ripples that will send out through those you touch even indirectly.
ANDI: I agree. For some, it’s a lot harder, given their circumstances. So what I try to do is live authentically for them, as well, and try to create safer space through my actions so that maybe some day, even those people will feel that they, too, can live their truths. Wow. We’re gettin’ kinda deep here, LM. Let me shift to something else before we start singing “We Are the World” or something. In your years in law enforcement, what are a couple of the biggest shifts you’ve seen, in terms of the actual methodology of doing law enforcement? And what are some of the biggest social shifts you’ve encountered among law enforcement officers? Like, are they more welcoming to women and LGBTQ people?
LYNETTE MAE: Interesting question, Andi. I think there are two huge shifts in methodology that I’ve seen during my 23 years of law enforcement. First is the focus on the offenders. For decades criminologists have recited the mantra: 6 percent of the population commits 94% of the crime. Recidivism is the key, but somehow we never focused on those offenders. In the last ten years the shift in law enforcement is to focus on those prolific offenders — at least that’s been the case in my community. I believe in this approach. I’ve been fortunate during my career to have been involved in very specific, offender-related projects, that have netted amazing results for community safety.
ANDI: Y’know, I did a community police seminar in Albuquerque a while back with a buddy of mine. It was a six-week thing and we learned a bunch of different aspects of law enforcement. That seminar changed the way I think about police work (which was its intent, so it worked — HA!), and I started thinking more about how police interact with communities and the balances officers have to maintain as trained law enforcement personnel who are also community members both in and out of uniform. I like seeing these big-picture things, too, in terms of police work.
LYNETTE MAE: Socially, for the LGBTQ community, the strides have been amazing. When I first became a police officer, I had to hide my sexuality. Only a couple of years prior to me becoming an officer, Tampa was conducting active raids on gay and lesbian clubs. Many of my friends were very closeted because they served on the force through those horrible times. By the time I joined, the raids had stopped, but the attitudes were apparent all around me. Now, we are fortunate here in Tampa to have the first openly lesbian Chief of Police and my wife and I are out in every respect. The only inequality is in the area of full pension benefits and monetary survivor rights. Those are still reserved for married, heterosexual couples. The fight for equality isn’t quite over, but I don’t think we’ll see those benefits before we retire from the force.
ANDI: And that’s what we were just talking about. There is still work to be done. Police also “checked on” LGBTQ clubs in Denver during my club days. A couple cops would come to one of the lesbian bars on the weekends and just stand and stare. It was always two big guys and they’d walk around through the crowd and demand IDs and then just pick a vantage point and stare at the dance floor. I never saw that at the straight clubs I went to. But it has changed in my lifetime, which is good.
I want to talk now about a more thematic element of your work. Your first two books incorporate what I’d call a “buddy plot element.” That is, main character Devon James has her army buddy Erin “Mac” McKinley. These two characters continue their buddy bond and end up, in book 2, in law enforcement together. I’m a huge fan of buddy plots. Did you have that element in mind when you started writing Faithful Service? Is it fair to say that you, too, have a secret crush on the buddy plot? If so, what are a few of your fave buddy plot movies and books and why?
LYNETTE MAE: I can’t say I had it in mind when I started the story. It just came about naturally as the plot unfolded. Devon and Mac became a buddy plot all on their own. I have to say that their relationship is one of the things I love about the stories and readers seem to identify a great deal with it as well.
Yeah, I do love the buddy plot. And I might have a couple more buddy plot stories up my sleeve. . .Hee heee. . .
LYNETTE MAE: Buddy plot movies? I’ll take the liberty of expanding that to the small screen. Probably the first buddy plot that made an impression on me was Cagney and Lacey, for obvious reasons. [ANDI note: Hit the link to see why if you are not familiar with that series] I did meet Sharon Gless [ANDI note: Gless played Cagney] at a LGBT event a few years back in Tampa, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. But I digress.
ANDI: Uh-huh. Next time I see you, I want that story. Just sayin’.
LYNETTE MAE: Some of my favorite buddy stories are, of course, cop movies. Bad Boys with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, is one of my all-time favorites. Friends of mine who have kids make me think of the scene where they answer the door for ML’s daughter’s boyfriend when he comes to the house. I could sooo see myself putting the fear of god into that kid. Funny, funny stuff. Not that I’ve ever done that with any of my friends’ kids. . . ahem. . .Other buddy movies I love are Boys on the Side, Charlie’s Angels (I confess I loved the series first), Steel Magnolias, Thelma and Louise, and A League of Their Own.
ANDI: THANK YOU for that walk down memory lane! LOVE Bad Boys. I’ve been watching this other series on USA that’s kind of a love/hate buddy series — Common Law. Two detectives who kinda don’t like each other but they’re actually a great team and they try to work through their differences. Clever. Rizzoli & Isles is another buddy show I watch (do I even need to put that link there for this crowd? LOL). For even more obvious reasons than I watched Cagney & Lacey. Heh.
Okay, as big a fan as I am for your military/law enforcement books, are you considering writing something that doesn’t have anything to do with either of those?
LYNETTE MAE: Thanks, Andi. I do have at least one story in the works that is a departure from the cop/military genre. Think sports with a twist…
ANDI: ARGH! And that, my friends, is the teaser. So what’s your writing process? Any rituals you have before you start a session? Do you listen to music? Do you have a place that serves as your office?
LYNETTE MAE: We have an office, but I don’t usually use it. Our work schedules mean that my wife, Sandy, sleeps late. So, usually, I get up in the morning as early as possible (I work an evening/swing shift) and write after I get my first cup of coffee and while the house is quiet. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get some writing done on the backside, when I get home at night. Ideas come to me frequently while I’m working.
ANDI: Gee, I wonder why. . . So can you share something with readers that not many people know about you? Like a hobby you have? Say, you’re actually a blackjack dealer when you’re not on the job as a police senior sergeant? Although the Mr. Magoo fanfic was pretty awesome.
LYNETTE MAE: No blackjack, Andi. Let’s see. . .I am a p90x fitness enthusiast. I was first seat on a local dragon boat team of paddlers until the team folded this year. If anyone has a Dragon Boat team and needs a paddler, let me know! Other than that, when I’m not crushing crime, I’m pretty simple. I write, work out, run, and just enjoy quiet time, reading or spending time with my wife and our dogs. That’s it for me.
ANDI: Lynette Mae! Mild-mannered crime crusher! Swear, there’s an awesome comic book storyline in there . . .so what’s next in the writing project pipeline?
LYNETTE MAE: I’m working on a couple of projects. One I mentioned earlier. Sports. Also, I’ve got a couple of short stories in the hopper to be included in upcoming anthologies featuring some awesome lesfic authors. Stay tuned.
ANDI: And we sure will. So thanks for hanging out with us and readers, if you want in on the giveaway for LM’s first book, leave a comment here saying that. Remember, don’t put your email address in the body of the comment, but do put it in the comment form you fill out prior to posting. The elves will keep it safe.