Two women under an umbrella in the rain

Gal Pals Are Life’s “Listening” Umbrella

I use rubber stamps to make handcrafted cards, as does my Other Worldly protagonist Rowan Layne. One says, Girlfriends Matter, and the other, Friends are the umbrella in the storms of life.

Before I delve into this gal pal subject further, some background on how it occurred to me as a focus for this post. This morning I read an online Writer’s Digest article, “The Power of Proximity: On Using Personal Experience to Write Fiction” by author Amanda DuBois.

DuBois began with, “For me, writing isn’t just about crafting a narrative; it’s about shedding light on the profound realities people face.” She concluded by noting, “It’s important for me that I contribute to a broader discourse on justice, empathy, and the transformative power of storytelling.”

I particularly loved how DuBois admitted that she “gets mad about what’s wrong with our legal system.”  Rowan Layne has been venting about issues with the US legal system and far too many unethical lawyers within it since the first book in my Other Worldly series, Alienable Rights.

And let me also say that I felt wholly vindicated as I read this article. To those in the writing industry (or otherwise) who told me that they (or readers they presumed to speak for) just want to be entertained and don’t want to read fiction filled the realities of life, I say, oh yeah?  DuBois knows better. She’s won awards for doing so.

I am proud that I, too, engage in broader discourse on justice and empathy, addressing real-world issues faced by real-world humans (and aliens) in my Other Worldly novels, including those occurring in the legal realm, though I’m no longer a practicing attorney like DuBois and was never a civil or criminal litigator. Had I been, I would have liked to pursue the subject of injustices faced in life—and in the courtroom—by women, as DuBois does.

DuBois said she’s inspired to write about legal situations that female clients and friends have faced that she knows from direct, firsthand experience with injustice. She writes from her heart of her very own frustrations using actual stories and issues of real people. Hence, like me and my protagonist Rowan Layne, she and her protagonist in the Camille Delaney legal thriller series have a lot in common.

In my upcoming Aliens Watch, I delve into some of those real-life issues and heartbreak I’ve experienced with both male and female friends, some of them now ex-friends because of sociopolitical issues and social diseases plaguing our nation and tearing families and relationships to shreds.

DuBois also said women are some of the bravest people she knows, including female clients who are also mothers who’ve been incarcerated. No, I do not have friends who’ve been incarcerated (that I know of), but I do consider women who have children to be very brave, indeed.

Like my best college buddy LL (because I’m L and she’s double L), who Alien Sensation was dedicated to. Now, a brand new character derived of our friendship will feature as a friend of Rowan’s whom she reconnects with in Minnesota after many years in Aliens Watch.

More on that in a moment, because Laura Lee (that’s what LL stands for) and I have spent many hours listening to each other about guys we dated, both in college and not all that long ago, lamenting if we would ever be with the man we truly believed was the one for us.

The DuBois article especially resonated when she mentioned listening to experiences of her female friends, how her story-telling ability derived from being a “lifelong listener.” She said in so many words that, because they are “girlfriends,” they tend to talk about personal things.

Women will talk candidly with each other about things they won’t necessarily discuss with the men in their lives. Rowan Layne has many male companions from whom she sometimes seeks wisdom. But it is her female gal pals from whom Rowan especially learns how to be a friend, and how to listen, even when the subject is having children. Rowan is not a mom, but she does end up being an honorary aunt to many alien offspring, much to her surprise.

Throughout the Other Worldly series, Rowan has extensive conversations, sometimes funny and sometimes sad, with female friends including her sister, whom she calls G. In real life, I call my big sister G as well, and she has been a much-needed listener for many years.

The fictional G and a new character named Leighla Laird (you see how I did that with the LL?) will chat with Rowan in Aliens Watch about who she might finally settle upon, and settle down with, as her one true love. If that’s at all possible, which Rowan still isn’t convinced it is.

And to make a long story short, because Rowan likes to talk a lot and so do I (as G and LL well know), this post is dedicated to those two fabulous, phenomenal women friends and much-valued listeners. Because today is my sister Geri’s birthday. And yesterday, Laura Lee became a grandmother for the third time, with a grandson named Hugh after two precious granddaughters.

Perhaps a character with that name, derived from the ancient Irish word for fire, might have to find it’s way into Aliens Watch. Because things are going to get a bit heated for Rowan Layne, and I don’t mean in her conversations with gal pals.

G and LL, thanks for being friends who listen through the storms of my life—and through the writing of my Other Worldly novels. Happy birthday, and congratulations, grandmom!

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