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Interview with Author Belinda Y. Hughes
My guest today is Belinda Y. Hughes. Hello! Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!
It’s such a pleasure to have you here again. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can
we get it?
Blues 2: The Colonel is the second in my Louisiana Lesbian Romance series.
Where the first, Blues in the Night, was more about the music industry, Blues 2 takes a turn
toward the historical and military sub-genres of romance. Blues 2’s main
character is Colonel Marty G. LaFleur, a bird colonel retired Army nurse of the
Korean War era, whom we first met as a church elder in Blues in the Night.
In Blues 2, the only two women Colonel Marty ever loved fall prey to the
ravages of gunfire. It’s up to her to recover their bullet-riddled bodies and
save their very lives. Blues 2: The Colonel was released December 14,
2015. It’s currently available at the indie e-publisher Payhip.
Is there anything specific that inspired you to write Blues 2: The Colonel?
few things combined to inspire Blues 2: The Colonel. First, it was
November, which means National
Novel Writing Month(NaNoWriMo), which I strive to celebrate annually with a
you, my dear friend, approached me around the same time to share my latest LGBT
romance with your readers - and I only had one, not a latest! So I took that as
a sign that it was high time to get my fingers in gear and set about writing
this second book in the series. When I cast about for who and what it should be
about, there was no question that Colonel Marty would be the hero. And since
I’m such a huge M*A*S*H fan, the Korean War flashback was inevitable. In
addition, women veterans have had a difficult time getting
and many are even homeless! So I wanted to honor them
for their service and heroism.
for the bride, motorcycle and wedding parade, here is the pic that inspired all
that. It's from the 2013 San Francisco Pride.
it occurred to me belatedly that, being partially set in the Korean War, which is now over 60 years hence, it
qualified as a historical romance. As for the military, I come from a
military-proud hometown and have always been attracted to members of the
and women’s history have been made rather frequently as I’ve been writing the
Blues series, and that’s been VERY inspiring! On June 26, 2015, the Supreme
Court declared same sex marriage legalized throughout the United
States, just after I completed the marriage proposal scene in Blues in the
Night. Then on August 18, 2015, the first female Army Rangers graduated: 1st Lts. Kristen Griest and
Shaye Haver. On December 3, 2015, Secretary of
Defense Ash Carter
announced that, as of January 2016, all forward combat roles would be made
equally available to all women who could meet the qualifications, thus allowing
women to advance more rapidly in rank and other career ladder benefits. This
news came as I was still writing Blues 2: The Colonel. Sadly, three
weeks later came the news that one of the first openly lesbian soldiers to get
married, Air Force Major
had been killed in action in Afghanistan. So history has happened right
alongside these books. It’s been riveting to turn on my local NPR station each
morning and hear things in my books unfolding in real life, my books becoming
increasingly more relevant and being quite literally handed ideas for the next
books in the series. It’s truly an astounding time to be an LGBT author.
Sounds like it, for sure!
If your book was made into a film, who would you cast in the starring roles?
At this point in time, I’d probably
just issue a casting call in Curve magazine and go scouting at the womyn’s
So...let's tackle some general questions. When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks? And why?
My personal library contains plenty
of both print and ebooks. The print books are mostly my sister’s used
paperbacks, primarily romance and mystery. Some I’ve bought for myself are
nonfiction natural health reference books. Print is great for unplugging and
reading in bed, since my Kindle is presently my Cloud account on my laptop. The
screen rotates to convert to a reader, but it’s a little on the heavy and bulky
side. The page rotates and the keyboard comes up when I’d rather things just
stay still so I can read.
My ebooks are mostly betas and ARCs
from colleagues, who write YA, paranormal, romance and cozy mysteries. Some
I’ve shelled out for are on spirituality, self-improvement, crafts and the
writing business. For my part, I do like that ebooks are more affordable and
take up less space. I also like that they get updated automatically whenever
there’s new cover art or content, plus it’s easier to connect with the author
through social media and check out their sites and other books. Ebooks offer more
interaction than the typical print book. Both ebooks and print can usually be
counted on for sample chapters of the next book in a series. But I tend to skip
those so I don’t spoil it.
Makes sense to me! So, what are you reading now?
I just finished one new read and two
re-reads. The new read is Mayan Blood, the YA,
paranormal, time-travel romance by Theresa Dalayne set in Belize, Russia and
Victorian London. It’s the first in her Stone Legacy series and she just
finished writing the last in the six-book series, Birthright. Other fans are
telling me her books are highly addictive and she doesn’t hesitate to make
readers “feel,” so I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
The first re-read is She’s Got Dibs, the
billionaire romance by AJ Nuest. It’s in the spirit of Sex and the City and the
Wedding Planner - a great comfort read with a happily ever after when you feel
like snuggling in.
The second re-read is the Lighter Side of Large, a
BBW billionaire romance by New Zealand author Becky Siame. It’s not only a
happily ever after romance, it’s also a refresher in healthy weight loss and
cleansing unhealthy victim-abuser role-playing from your personal behaviors and
So, let's try another question.
you get an idea for a book, what comes first usually? Dialogue, the
characters, a specific scene? Or do you plot it out before you write?
Books start however they will. Each
one is a unique entity all its own, yet the Blues series maintains a
developmental character connection and so far, some relationship to my home
state of Louisiana.
The first in the series, Blues in the Night, began
with the sex on the church bandstand scene and rolled on until it was done.
With Blues 2, Colonel Marty from
Blues in the Night was the natural character to build upon and following up
from the New Orleans concert scene in Blues in the Night was a natural starting
point. Then my M*A*S*H fanaticism, the 2013 San Francisco Pride Bride on Bike
photo and bringing Martha Nunez in from Blues in the Night as Colonel Marty’s
present-day love interest filled in the blanks. I’d still like to add a shower
scene and one on past-life reincarnation to Blues 2 when I get a moment.
The next book in this series, Blues
3: The Twins is already beginning itself without my help. Colonel Marty’s
female nephews, Sam and Ace (named for my Blues 2 military consultant and cover
artist, fellow writer S.A. Hunt) will be the main characters. Already,
I’ve begun collecting military contacts with more recent experience and have
that plane engine revving up for takeoff feeling, but as a writer, I feel more
in the role of passenger than pilot at the moment.
Yes, I know what you mean! Besides, are we ever really in control of the story? I think the characters reign over everything. ;)
What do you have planned next, Belinda? Or is that a secret?
up is Blues 3: The Twins, which will cover the personal and professional
lives of Colonel Marty’s female nephews, Sam and Ace, who are actively serving
in the U.S. Army at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in Hackberry,
Louisiana and at Murdo Station in Antarctica. I hope to research and discover
what the newly instituted changes mean for them and their careers and home
lives. At the very least, I’m thinking their stations may change to more
hazardous assignments as they try moving up the career ladder in time for
retirement. I have no idea what their choices and risks will be or who will
survive. Along the way, one or both might attend a womyn’s music festival,
where I’ll introduce the main character for my new series of spa mysteries.
So...is there anything you'd like to add? Any advice for new writers?
Keep writing. Make the
time. Don’t let anybody or anything get in your way or stop you. There’s no
hard and fast rule on whether to plot or 'pants'. Go with what works for you and
the book at hand.
A few that I learned
Make sure you keep track
of which version of your manuscript is floating around amongst beta readers and
editors, so you don’t wind up with chaos when it’s too late to fix it.
DO put your manuscript
through beta readers, developmental and grammatical editors and proofreaders.
They will spot errors you miss, like missing, misspelled and overused words and
details that are either patently incorrect or do not work mechanically. These
things can and do slip through spell checks, are a nuisance to your readers and
can indeed result in undesirable reviews. Just because a manuscript has been
through six pairs of eyes doesn't make it perfect. A seventh may still spot
these key errors.
Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS) and Merriam-Webster
are the industry standards for spelling, punctuation, usage and style at the
moment. You’ll also want to make sure your manuscript adheres to your
publisher’s Author Guidelines and House Style Guide.
Great tips, Belinda! Thank you!
Readers, here is the blurb for Blues 2: The Colonel.
military historical romance. Colonel
Marty is back and under the gun. The church elder from Blues in the Night
returns to rescue bullet-riddled lovers from the front lines in the Korean War
and back home in Louisiana. Can the retired Army nurse and the women she loves
make it through the gunfire to her wedding day?
Here are some excerpts.
Marty and Martha were a
new item nobody knew about yet, except for Martha’s sister Nita and her partner
Jo. Marty had only met the prominent young attorney for the first time a couple
days ago to share the drive to Jo and Nita’s Blues in the Night tour-opening
concert Friday night in New Orleans, which finished with the blues duo’s
impromptu engagement party. Martha and Marty had hit it off well enough to
spend the weekend in the French Quarter before heading home to Lake Charles
this evening. Waking up to find herself being used as a prop for Martha’s bed
yoga poses surpassed the cafe au lait and beignets they’d had later on at Cafe’
du Monde. At the moment, Marty wouldn’t mind being back in that bed again, with
Martha in one piece, her slender legs draped around Marty’s hips, her torso
arched into a graceful backbend toward Marty’s feet. Her flexibility had been a
bottomless bowl of fodder for Marty’s imagination.
It took some time for
Aung to heal up enough to be cleared for travel. Then the Colonel had to revoke
all Seoul passes due to visiting dignitaries. Then the action at the front
picked up again and Marty had to stay. Finally, things settled down to a dull
roar again, and they made it to Kimpo for Aung to catch her flight. Marty led her
into a shadowy corner under some stairs and held her close for several minutes,
brushing her ears, nose and lips with kisses. “Oh, my heart. I’ll come home as
soon as I can. Meanwhile, we’ve got letters, telegrams and phone calls. My
Great Aunt Jan’ll show you how to drive and send care packages and make a roux.
You’re gonna love Livingston, honey. It’s quiet and friendly and you can grow
anything you want in our garden. Be sure to let me know if you need anything.”
With that, Marty slipped an envelope filled with extra cash into her hand.
“Com som ni da. I love you always, Marty-san,” Aung
replied softly, slipping a Buddhist book and a strand of handmade beads into
Marty’s pocket. “These will keep us close until we are reunited in the States.”
Ever since she’d woken
several hours after surgery, Martha had wanted Marty nearby. She had signed an
M, which only her mother recognized and mistakenly took it to mean Mom. Then
Martha signed M and A. At that moment, Marty had come in the door and Martha
had crooked her finger into the universal symbol for “Come here.” Whenever
Marty held her hand, Martha held on with increasing strength. When she had
nightmares from the shooting, her heart monitor showed she settled the moment
Marty spoke softly into her ear and stroked her hair. Her conservative parents
either didn’t notice or didn’t care to let on that they knew, but they didn’t
fight it, either. The proof was in the heart monitor and the doctor had ordered
them to keep Martha’s stress at an absolute minimum.
So they didn’t say
anything when they’d caught the pair kissing on a few occasions and more than
once, as they’d entered the room, Marty had been rising from Martha’s hospital
bed and the indentations looked like they’d been snuggling. Both women appeared
to be glowing from within. One day when she went to join them for dinner at the
house, Martha’s mom noticed a vintage ruby ring on the third finger of her
daughter’s left hand. “What’s this?” the mother had asked, reaching out her
hand to inspect it more closely.
“It’s Marty’s class ring
from nursing school. She had it sized for me.”
“And what does it mean?”
probed the mother, arching a brow.
“It means we’re
“Together as in…?”
“...as in ‘I Only Have Eyes For You.’”
Nice! Thank you for visiting us on Writing in the Modern Age, Belinda! :)
Readers, check out this great book by Belinda Y. Hughes!
Belinda Y. Hughes is the author of Blues 2: The Colonel, Blues in the
Night, Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 1 and 2 and Living
Proof. She enjoys cozy mysteries, hot romances, aromatherapy bubble baths
and hiking in the woods. Upcoming books include Blues 3: The Twins,
another Louisiana lesbian military romance, in which Sam and Ace will take
advantage of newly expanded MOS opportunities to further their military careers
while trying to maintain their love lives. A new series involving natural
health-themed cozy mysteries will begin soon.