Telenovela, or Inspiration

by | November 28, 2015 | General | 4 comments

by Jean Roberta

Alas, I missed my day to post. And I’ve almost missed my day of grace (the day after my day to post and before the next regular blogger is due to post).

Here is the situation: through my spouse (who originally came to Canada as a political refugee from Chile), I know some other people in the local Spanish-speaking community, most of whom were also political refugees from various hot spots (Central America has been exporting people for decades). Spouse and I know a family in crisis: the parents came here in the 1970s, and raised two children who now have children of their own. The husband/father passed away over 10 years ago, and the widow has been declining in several ways ever since. Several months ago, a group of us realized that she needed urgent help, but we weren’t sure what to do. Despite her insistence that she didn’t need or want help/charity/interference, we got the son on board. Luckily, he has a key to his mother’s uninhabitable house, and with another member of the group, he got her to a hospital earlier this week. When she arrived, it wasn’t clear if she would live through the night.

The whole group, including me, has spent as much time as possible with the widow in the hospital, when we’re not at work. The events of this week have seemed like a telenovela, a Latin American soap opera. (Watching these dramas is the best way to learn Spanish, IMO.)

Is there a message in this real-life epic? I don’t know yet. Whether this play is a tragedy or a comedy will probably depend on the outcome. In any case, some of the details will probably find their way into something I write in the future.

For the meanwhile, please accept my apologies for not commenting on the writing process or the publishing biz. Sometimes life interferes.

Jean Roberta

Jean Roberta once promised her parents not to use their unusual family name for her queer and erotic writing, and thus was born her thin-disguise pen name. She teaches English and Creative Writing in a university on the Canadian prairies, where the vastness of land and sky encourage daydreaming. Jean immigrated to Canada from the United States as a teenager with her family. In her last year of high school, she won a major award in a national student writing contest. In 1988, a one-woman publisher in Montreal published a book of Jean’s lesbian stories, Secrets of the Invisible World. When the publisher went out of business, the book went out of print. In the same year, Jean attended the Third International Feminist Book Fair in Montreal, where she read a call-for-submissions for erotic lesbian stories. She wrote three, sent them off, and got a letter saying that all three were accepted. Then the publisher went out of business. In 1998, Jean and her partner acquired their first computer. Jean looked for writers’ groups and found the Erotic Readers & Writers Association, which was then two years old! She began writing erotica in every flavor she could think of (f/f, m/f, m/m, f/f/m, etc) and in various genres (realistic contemporary, fantasy, historical). Her stories have appeared in anthology series such as Best Lesbian Erotica (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, Volume 1 in new series, 2016), Best Lesbian Romance (2014), and Best Women's Erotica (2000, 2003, 2005, 2006) from Cleis Press, as well as many others. Her single-author books include Obsession (Renaissance, Sizzler Editions), an erotic story collection, The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales of the Torrid Past (Lethe Press), and The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella (Lethe, also in audio). Fantasy stories by Jean include “Lunacy” in Journey to the Center of Desire (erotic stories based on the work of Jules Verne) from Circlet Press 2017, “Green Spectacles and Rosy Cheeks” (steampunk erotica) in Valves & Vixens 3 (House of Erotica, UK, 2016), and “Under the Sign of the Dragon” (story about the conception of King Arthur) in Nights of the Round Table: Arthurian Erotica (Circlet 2015). This story is now available from eXcessica ( Her horror story, “Roots,” first published in Monsters from Torquere Press, is now in the Treasure Gallery of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association. With Lethe Press publisher Steve Berman, she coedited Heiresses of Russ 2015 (Lethe), an annual anthology of the year’s best lesbian speculative fiction. Her realistic erotic novel, Prairie Gothic: A Tale of the Old Millennium, was published by Lethe in September 2021. Jean has written many reviews and blog posts. Her former columns include “Sex Is All Metaphors” (based on a line in a poem by Dylan Thomas) for the Erotic Readers and Writers Association, July 2008-November 2010. The 25 column pieces can still be found in the on-site archives and in an e-book from Coming Together, Jean married her long-term partner, Mirtha Rivera, on October 30, 2010. Links:


  1. Rachel Green

    My thoughts with you and your friend.

  2. Lisabet Sarai

    There are many things more important than a blog post. (Indeed, almost everything real is!)

    I hope the situation resolves itself favorably. This woman is lucky to have a community who cares.

  3. Jean Roberta

    Thank you for your kind words, Rachel and Lisabet. Actually, the widow has shown amazing improvement since Monday. She has long-term multiple schlerosis, and I don't think there's a cure for that, but there are cures for bedbugs, bedsores and malnutrition! For the first few days, she was in isolation, and all visitors had to put on hospital gowns and rubber gloves just to enter her room, but she is now bug-free, and spending much of her time reading Isobel Allende's novels in Spanish, provided by my spouse Mirtha. She no longer refuses tests or treatment. (The son used some leverage by threatening to get her committed as mentally incompetent.) She seems to be rediscovering herself in her prime: a witty and outspoken human rights lawyer. (I've met her grandchildren, and they will probably be our best allies in helping the widow see that she has a future.) Watching a friend come back to life is a reward in itself.

  4. Kathleen Bradean

    We're in the middle of a continuing elder crisis too. Thank you for getting involved, and I'm glad she's improving.

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