Like Mother Like Daughter: Kelly Conrad

Red Journal with Pen and Candle

One day a bunch of daredevil authors stepped out of the protective circle of erotic romance between men and women, and into the fiery circle of sizzling bedroom scenes, sweaty bodies, and bold sex between gay men, and called it ManLove.

It exploded!

Along about that time an innocent, foolish little writer that didn’t have a clue came along. Her name was Kelly Conrad. That’s me. Along with the masses, I thought I wanted to write hot, passionate, erotic romances between men and women, but suddenly I noticed that gay romance was popping all around me.

“Oh, my!” I thought, with my puritanical hand covering my innocent, never-say-a-dirty-word-mouth.

Being naturally curious, I took a few secret glimpses of love between gay couples. Eeek! Men making love? Oh, my God! What I was looking at was hot—graphic and explicit—love scenes between gay men.

“This baby bit down and began cutting her gay erotic romance teeth on anything she could find.”

Whoa! Dorothy’s not in Kansas anymore!

Needless to say, I was introduced to ManLove in a big way. I looked at it, surveyed it, but was sure that I’d never be able to write it. But anyone who knows the rebel, Kelly Conrad, knows that “can’t” isn’t in her vocabulary, and this was a lurking giant that had to be conquered. So I gritted my teeth, and toughened up.

Hah! They didn’t scare me!

This baby bit down and began cutting her gay erotic romance teeth on anything she could find. I looked, I searched, I gasped, and I sucked in my breath as my eyes widened in shock. I read about things I’d never heard of before, until I finally began my first story. I put on my glasses, stuck my pencil behind my ear, fired my computer up, and with a red face, I began typing the naughty words that created the hot, sizzling bedroom scenes that I was sure would shock the world.

Cowboys left the saloon girls alone and loved each other.

Contemporary men from all walks of life met their male mates and loved them unashamedly.

Before long there were fantasies, mythological tales, contemporaries, and one novel had turned into two, two turned to three, and then four, until before long I couldn’t stop because one day I realized that I had come to love it. I now look back on the day ManLove was whispered in my ear and consider it a turning point in my life.

“But one red-letter day when my mother left me alone to amuse myself, I began rummaging around in her dresser, and found a journal.”

If we’re honest, we know that when ManLove first came upon the scene it was a bit controversial. It’s bad enough when it comes from the outside, but when everything good in your life begins to question you, such as my two sons, you have to face it, and get it out of the way. Just let me say that after discussing it, my sons are behind me one-hundred percent. But that leaves my prayers, my neighbors, and last, but not least—my mother. Although she’s passed away, I know she approves, and this is the reason why…

Her name was Mary Lillian. She laughed easily, had a beautiful smile—and a secret.

Let me explain. Back when my mother was alive I used to visit her occasionally, have dinner, talk things over, and tell her once again that I loved her. But one red-letter day when my mother left me alone to amuse myself, I began rummaging around in her dresser, and found a journal.

Oh, my God, my mother kept a journal? But she’s so…old. But there it was, lying right there in my hand big as life, and tempting me to open it. Well, I never have been an obedient child, so I naughtily touched the cover and began to lift it—and then closed it quickly.  No, I can’t do that. It’s personal. However, with a sneak peek over at the door, and an ear tuned to the movement in the kitchen where she was, I opened it up—and began to read.

It turned out to be one of my thrilling “wow” moments.

It wasn’t what I read that was so important, it was the way it was written. The words, the phrases, and how they were used, the way they flowed, and the sheer poetry that made them almost come up off the page and carry me away.

Oh, my God, my mother wasn’t only a writer, she was a poet, and she was good!

But why hadn’t she ever written a book? I knew immediately what the answer was. My mother was a country girl. She grew up on a farm during a time when women just didn’t do those things. She married at age fifteen to a man ten years her senior, and began having children right away. As I stood there reading those beautiful words, I had tears in my eyes. I wept for my mother because she never had the opportunity to express herself through her writing as women do today.

“So, with a tear in my eye, and determination in my heart, I write my next chapter, and the next, and the next, until I see it blazing forth on the publisher’s website.”

Her only recourse was a journal.

Now, when my fingers begin tapping over the keys of my computer, I know with a certainty that what writing ability I have came from her. To this day I still have that journal. It’s my muse. It keeps me from having writer’s block, it inspires me to not be limited in my thinking, and as impossible as it may sound, it is an open door to my imagination. An imagination that has no bounds. Sometime when I’m writing late into the night, when the room is dark, and the atmosphere is thick, I have to look around because I can feel a presence at my side, even a hand on my shoulder, and I know who’s there. Mom is here watching me, encouraging me, and whispering in my ear when I need help. That journal also reminds me how lucky I’ve been that I was born at a time when women are able to do what my mother never could.

So, with a tear in my eye, and determination in my heart, I write my next chapter, and the next, and the next, until I see it blazing forth on the publisher’s website.

So you see? Mom does approve. And although many may call what I write controversial, I do it joyfully with my mother’s encouragement, God’s blessings, and my children’s support. My neighbors? They don’t know me as Kelly Conrad, they know me under a different name—Blessed.

By Kelly Conrad

 

photo credit: Dave Heuts via photopin cc