Friday, July 7, 2017

As Dirty as the Floor of a Barn in a Prairie Summer

by Jean Roberta

I’m done! This week, I finished revising my 1998 erotic novel, Prairie Gothic. It now has 22 chapters, and is slightly over 66,000 words. I sent two updated synopses (one longer, one shorter) and the first three chapters to a certain publisher, according to their guidelines.

Some of the sex in the original version was so over-the-top that after I posted a chapter in ERWA Storytime, some of the crits mentioned that these activities would put someone into critical condition in real life. (Apparently I was too much like E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades, before the fact.)

So some of the sex has been toned down, but I like to think it’s especially dirty if it’s realistic. :)

My new version was accepted in one day! Apparently, I submitted to the right place.

I’m sure my manuscript needs better formatting, and possibly some editing. This remains to be discussed, but it’s on its way to publication.

In the first chapter, “Field Trip,” a young female journalism student checks out the local “gay club” in the 1990s. She learns as much about herself as about the regulars who hang out in this den of sin before the age of internet hook-ups.


Kelly, like most of her friends, admired the Mohawk warriors who had stood up to the Quebec police and the Canadian army in the hot summer of 1990. On principle, Kelly and her crowd supported all other native land claims (especially when they were defended somewhere else) and vaguely associated First Nations people with respect for the earth. Kelly and her friends could no longer say what they still believed: that the local native population was pathetic and potentially dangerous, like a herd of buffalo desperately searching for food in a modern urban environment that wasn't designed for them.

Admiring a native woman in the sexual atmosphere of the bar, Kelly became aware of her embarrassing ignorance. She wanted to know Debbie well, but she didn't want to sound foolish, and this dilemma kept her silent.

Debbie smiled thoughtfully, picking up Kelly's nearest hand as though it were an interesting rock. Kelly turned red, but didn't resist.

"This your first time here?" asked Debbie. Kelly nodded, feeling the leathery toughness of Debbie's palm. "Are you gay or straight?"

Kelly was taken aback, since she hadn't expected such a direct question and she wasn't sure how to answer it. She told herself that a straight woman would never come to a gay bar by herself, but she still had no carnal knowledge of other women. She felt both blessed and cursed to be a newcomer with no known past. "I'm a lesbian," she told Debbie firmly, trying to keep her voice level.

Pat smiled. "Good for you," she rumbled in a voice that suggested decades of experience. Kelly wondered whether she heard sarcasm in that voice.

"Let's dance, eh?" Debbie offered, teasing Kelly with her eyes. Kelly jumped to her feet, feeling as if she were walking on clouds. Debbie led Kelly toward the dance floor, swaying her hips just a little more than usual. Kelly wanted to touch her so badly that she was terrified of her own impulses. She was afraid she might do something that would get her beaten up or thrown out of the bar, or both. Moving in rhythm on the crowded dance floor, Kelly felt warmed by a sense of belonging and frustrated by an awareness that her itch couldn't be scratched soon, if ever.

Debbie’s eyes swivelled toward unusual movement in a corner of the room, so Kelly looked in that direction.

"You don't fuckin own her!" bellowed Rae, violently grabbing the wrists of a taller woman who held fistfuls of her shirt. The sound of a slap reverberated through the room as the taller woman, barely wearing a ripped T-shirt and jeans, applied a hard hand to Rae's open mouth.

"Max!" called Debbie in an urgent stage whisper. "Over here." A grim-faced native woman with a salt-and-pepper crew cut ploughed through the crowd like a tugboat moving through a choppy sea. She wore a purple shirt with the word “Manager” embroidered on a breast pocket.

"Hey, hey, hey, hey," she warned the combatants, who were being pulled apart by their friends. "You know we can't have that in here, girls. If you want to finish it, take it outside."

Both women seemed mortally insulted by the word “girls,” and each began to yell explanations of how the other woman had started the fight. Several male board members were attracted by the noise. When the tall woman in the ripped T-shirt tried to push Max away, she was grabbed by half a dozen men and women, marched to the door of the club and heaved out into the night, screaming curses to the indifferent stars.

Max wasn't finished. Looking fiercely down at Rae, she began lecturing her in a low and urgent tone.

Rae interrupted: "That stupid ass thinks she can… "

"Shut up," warned Max, digging her fingers into one of Rae's meaty shoulders. "Rae, I'm not gonna throw you out this time, but next time… "

Rae roared like a wounded bull. "I never… "

Max's anger seemed colder but more serious than Rae's. "Shut up, Rae," she repeated. "You know damn well why women want to kick your ass. Someday you'll end up in the hospital and it'll be your own fault."

All the regulars knew Max's clear, simple code of sexual ethics. She believed that every dyke was entitled to one wife, to have and to hold, until a divorce had been finalized by moving van or a restraining order. She had no tolerance for those who deviated from this pattern, and she held beneath contempt anyone who threatened the good name of her establishment.

Kelly felt shaken, and wondered whether she should leave quietly.

Debbie seemed to read her mind, and clung to Kelly's nearest arm. "This stuff doesn't usually happen here, Kelly. Max keeps an eye on the troublemakers." The pride in Debbie's voice made Kelly feel a hollow space opening inside her. "She's my honey." Disappointment flooded through Kelly's inner space like spilled acid.

Debbie released Kelly's arm just as Max slid one of hers around Debbie's shoulders.

"Max, this is Kelly. She's here for the first time."

Kelly was embarrassed. When planning her excursion to the gay underworld, she hadn’t expected to be so visible as a stranger. The manager gave Kelly a smile and a handshake that felt impersonal and condescending.


Rest assured that things heat up in the next chapter, when Kelly is seduced (or given some sexual relief) by two men, one of whom she knows. And in Chapter Three, she offers comfort to the distressed redhead (desired object for Rae and Ruth, the fighting dykes) who will turn out to be the love of Kelly's life, despite her scandalous reputation.


  1. Definitely leaves me wanting more! Let us know when it's available.

  2. This is awesome, Jean! Congrats on finishing your edits! I hope you will give us more information when you've got it. :D

  3. Thank you, Sacchi and Annabeth. I will keep you posted.

  4. I'm so proud of you, Jean! Looking forward to reading the book, though I suspect I won't fully appreciate the "period" or cultural aspects given my background.