Escape to an era gone by and relive LGBT history in the Juliana series by @vandawriter #lgbtq #pride
Juliana is a series of novels about LGBT history beginning in 1941 in New York City. Each volume continues the story of these same characters as they live through the decades of LGBT history.
Title Juliana: Book 1
Genre LGBT Historical Fiction
Publisher Sans Merci
“An Absolutely Beautiful and Moving Novel!
--Philip Crawford, author of Mafia and the Gays
She went looking for fame, and found her true self, instead.
New York City, 1941. Alice “Al” Huffman and her childhood friends are fresh off the potato farms of Long Island and bound for Broadway. Al’s plans for stage success are abruptly put on hold when she’s told she has no talent. As she gets a job to pay for acting classes, Al settles into a normal life with her friends and a boyfriend. It all changes when she meets Juliana.
A singer on the brink of stardom, Juliana is everything Al isn’t: glamorous, talented, and queer. The farm girl is quickly enthralled, experiencing thoughts and feelings she never realized were possible. Al finds herself slipping between two worlds: the gay underground and the “normal” world of her childhood friends. It’s a balancing act she can handle until the two worlds begin to collide.
In a city bursting with change, can Alice find what she was looking for all along?
Juliana: Volume 1: 1941-1944 is a captivating work of LGBT historical romance. If you like extensively researched settings, spell-binding storytelling, and characters you can’t help but fall for, then you’ll love the first book in award-winning playwright Vanda’s new Juliana series.
Just Prior to this scene: Al (Alice) has dicovered her boyfriend Danny half dressed coming from Max’s bedroom Danny runs out of the apartment, ashamed.
“You want your eggs scrambled, over easy, or what?” Max called from his kitchen.
“Who cares? Danny and I were sposed to go to his mother’s house for Thanksgiving. Now what? What do I tell his mother?”
“Well, not this. Mothers hate it when you tell them their sons are queer.”
“Don’t call Danny that. He’s not that. He’s just-…-I don’t know. Confused. We’re gonna get married.”
“I don’t think that’d be a good idea.” Max walked into the room carrying a tray filled with our breakfast. “I made you scrambled. It’s all I know how to make. Eat up.” He placed the plate of eggs and a glass of orange juice on the coffee table in front of me. “Be careful of that plate. It’s Wedgewood.”
“I can’t eat.”
“You eat. I cooked it. You eat it. Here, at least drink the orange juice.” He held the glass against my lips. “Drink.”
I took a sip.
He put the glass back down on the coffee table.
“Now, you drink that. It’s good for you.” He sat down on the overstuffed chair across from me, holding a cup, a “Wedgewood” cup, I supposed, whatever that meant. He still wore his fluffy bathrobe, but now he had on fluffy slippers too.
“Why are you dressed like that?”
“You don’t like it? I thought pink went well with my eyes.”
“You tricked Danny into this. He looked up to you, and you used it against him. to convince him he was this thing like you, but he’s not. I hate you.”
“Swell. Hate me. But know this, sweetheart,” he leaned forward, “I didn’t do anything to your beau that he didn’t want. Danny is who he is because he was born that way no matter what the shrinks say and as sad as it may be, honey, you don’t figure into it at all. So if you wanna save yourself a lot of heartache, forget about marrying him, because if you two do get married it’ll be the ruin of both of you.”
“You’re lying. You lie about everything. You lied about Juliana. You hardly know her.”
Max laughed. “Did she tell you that?” He pushed a cigarette into his holder. “Dear Juliana. How she does go on.?”
“You’re just a nobody. Look at this place. What kinda rich producer would live in this dump?”
“Now, you hold on. First, this is not a dump. I may live in a run-down neighborhood and this place may be small—”
“And the doorbell doesn’t work.”
“But the décor is exquisite. Look at that wallpaper. Designed in Paris. Look at that couch. Satin. You will never find another apartment in this neighborhood with a satin couch.”
I picked up the clay ashtray that looked like it’d been made by a child. “And this ugly ashtray?”
“Put that down. This is the most valuable item in the whole apartment.” He put it back on the coffee table. I never said I was rich. I was once, and I shall be again. I’m, as they say, between situations, but you do not get to call me a nobody, you little twerp. I’ll have you know I was once the youngest club owner in this city. I was a phenomenon. Young beautiful talent, boys and girls, groveled at my feet just for an audience with me. The Herald Tribune called me a genius at recognizing new talent. Juliana would be a star today if she’d stuck with me. I brought a musical to Broadway when I was only nineteen. So, don’t you tell me who I am. Who the hell are you?
Author Biography –
Vanda is an author whose life’s mission is to honor LGBT history: to let people, gay and straight, know that the LGBT community shares a rich cultural history that is as important and as valid as any other minority group’s history.
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Title Olympus Nights on the Square: Book 2
Genre LGBT Historical Fiction
Publisher Sans Merci
What if your love was illegal? What would you do? It’s 1945 and Juliana wants to be a star and she has the singing voice to do it. Alice (Al) is determined to make Juliana into the star she wants to be.
The worst thing that could happen to Juliana is to be discovered as gay.
The worst thing that could happen to Al is to lose Juliana.
Al must guard their secret at all costs.
Will the gossip columnists and the new laws destroy them? If you like stories about 1950s Manhattan and behind the scenes drama in theater and nightclubs you’ll love, Olympus Nights on the Square: Book 2 of the Juliana Series. You can enter the series at any point. It’s sexy, funny and deadly serious; it’s full of mobsters, the FBI, McCarthyism, gay bashing, lesbian pulp, a beginning awareness of transgender persons and “cures” for homosexuality. A lot like now.
Oh jeepers! I was wearing a red dress. I’d forgotten that everything in Sardi’s is red or maroon. The walls, the banquettes, the seats, the menus, the awning outside. Juliana came through the door, stepping feather-light on Sardi's maroon carpet. She wore a mink jacket over a black linen afternoon dress, and a matching wide brimmed hat. The maitre’d met her at the door and led the way. She stepped toward me, her dark hair bouncing around her shoulders. “Well,” shesaid, standing behind the chair. “It’s been a while. Hasn’t it?”
I couldn’t speak. I sat frozen with the vision of her perfect self before me.
The maitre’d helped her remove her coat and guided her into her chair. He bent close to her ear and whispered, “I enjoyed your last show so very much.”
“Thank you, Sidney.”
“You look good, Al. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you in red before.”
“I clash with the room.”
She laughed. “I don’t think anyone else would ever think to say that. I’ve missed you.” She slid off her gloves. Could there be anything more joyful than to look into her eyes?
But, of course, we couldn’t touch.
“We don’t have much time, do we?”
“No. I’ve been traveling so many months Richard has been feeling neglected. He made me promise I’d come right home when I got back into town. Of course, he doesn’t know I’m already here. Oh, Al, I’m so very glad to see you.”
My heart danced within me. She never said things like that. I wanted to reach across the table and … Oh, well. Sitting in her presence had to be enough.
We ordered quickly so we could spend more time talking. Our moments together were too fleeting to waste even one. Anything I had to do, I would’ve gladly crossed off the list to spend one more minute with her. But I didn’t have that choice. I ordered the brochette of beef, and Juliana had the Cornish game hen.
We began with a sparkling burgundy wine. Not having had breakfast, it went straight to my head, and I had visions of her and me—well, you know—so it was hard to concentrate on her funny stories of Chicago and L.A. When she reached across the table for the salt—“Oh, let me,” I said. Our hands met for one lovely moment, both holding the shaker; we stayed that way, looking into each other’s eyes, forgetting the danger. Then remembering, we quickly let go, and the saltshaker fell, spewing salt all over the table.
Sydney hurried over with a crummer. “Allow me.” He’d been watching us. Eyes were always watching Juliana. Probably everyone in the place had seen us drop that saltshaker.
“Thank you, Sidney.” We couldn’t allow ourselves to forget to be on guard at all times.
“Did you read this contract?” Juliana asked, slipped it from her purse.
“I read all your contracts.”
“Then you read the morality clause.”
“They want me to be ‘clean’ in my personal life. I can’t do anything that would embarrass their audience.”
“Everyone signs that.”
“They can look into my personal life, Al.”
“And they’ll find Richard. If you don’t sign it, they won’t let you do their show. It doesn’t mean they think you’re you know ... They don’t know about that. They’re looking for communists.”
“Only communists? I know you’re not that naive.”
“If you don’t sign it, you risk being put in Red Channels. You'd never work again. These are uncertain times. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. It … I’m not so used to boldly lying, signature and all.”
“You’re not lying. You’re not immoral—exactly.”
She smiled and took a pencil from her purse; she scrawled her signature at the bottom of the page. “This will get easier, won’t it?” She replaced the pencil in her bag. “Lying.”
Title Paris Adrift: Book 3
Genre LGBT Historical Fiction
Publisher Sans Merci
Finalist for the LesFic Bard Award She wanted a safe harbor for their love. But rough waters could destroy any hope of starting over… Paris-bound, 1955. Alice "Al" Huffman can't wait to reach the City of Light. As soon as their ship arrives, Juliana's singing career will get the spotlight it deserves and the two women will finally bring their relationship out of the shadows. Or so Al thinks. Before the SS United States hits land, a stranger approaches Al with a Broadway contract for Juliana. But the offer comes with a threat that can't be ignored. And unless Al can find a way out, Juliana's comeback could come crashing down before it even begins… As she hides the awful truth from Juliana, Al searches for an answer before another obstacle destroys their last chance for happiness… Paris, Adrift, 1955 is Book 3 in a breathtaking LGBT historical romance series. If you like pulse-pounding suspense, characters who tug at your heartstrings, and true-to-life portrayals of 1950s Paris, then you'll love award-winning writer Vanda's stunning series of novels. Buy Paris, Adrift and set sail on a harrowing journey of love today!
Background: It’s 1955. Juliana, a glamorous nightclub singer and Alice (Al) Huffman, Juliana’s manager, and lover, are on a ship headed for Paris to revitalize Juliana’s career. Al meets Dan Schuyler in the ship’s cocktail lounge.
“Miss Huffman,” Mr. Schuyler called from a corner table, standing.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Schuyler.”
“I’m eager to hear your response to the script, Miss Huffman. The writers are waiting with bated breath to hear that Miss Juliana will sing their songs.”
“Then I’m indeed sad to have to disappoint them.”
“She said no?”
“I’m afraid so. It’s a beautiful script and I know you’ll find someone else who’ll—”
“There is no one else, Miss Huffman. Go back and make her.”
“Mr. Schuyler, no one ‘makes’ Juliana do anything she doesn’t want to do.”
“You can. She must do this. There is an investor who insists—”
“I can’t tell you, but you have to convince her. My career depends on it.”
“There is no bigger fan of Juliana than myself, Mr. Schuyler, but even I know that there must be someone else who can…”
“There isn’t. You have to change her mind.”
“There’s nothing I can do.”
“It was written for her.”
“Why would you commission a script before you knew if she would be
“I didn’t. The gentleman who paid the writers did. Our major investor is in love with her. He will accept no one else. I told him I could get her for him. There must be something you and I can—”
“Perhaps you shouldn’t have said that before you asked Juliana. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Mr. Schuyler.”
I started to rise from my seat when he said, “No!” and placed a firm hand around my wrist.
“Mr. Schuyler, please, let go of me.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, still holding on. “Sit down, Miss Huffman. I’m not finished with you.”
“Excuse me? Do I need to call for help?”
He leaned close to me and whispered, “I know.”
“You know what?”
“You know what I know.”
“You’re sounding needlessly mysterious, Mr. Schuyler.” I tried to pull my wrist from his grasp but couldn’t.
“I know what you two are.”
“What are you talking about?” My heart banged against my chest. I stood straighter, attempting to appear composed.
“Sit and I’ll tell you what I know.”
I sat down, and he released my wrist.
“I told you I’ve studied you. I don’t need to say out loud what I know about you two, do I?”
“What is this about?”
“I had hoped never to have to say this to you, but it’s simple. I have an opportunity to revive my career if I put up this musical with Juliana. I have a secret investor who will only support this project with her in it. If she doesn’t sign these papers . . .” He reached into his inside pocket and took out a fat envelope and pushed it across the table toward me. “I will publicly declare what I know about you two. Think of the headlines. The newspapers would love it.”
“You’re talking blackmail, Mr. Schuyler.”
“Well, I suppose you could go to the authorities and report me, but if you do, nothing will keep your secret out of the papers, Miss Huffman. And you know what that will mean to both of your careers. Not to mention the worldwide humiliation Juliana would be subjected to.
“Please. You can’t do this.” I knew I sounded weak; that was not good with a guy like this.
He sat back in his chair once more. “Look, I wish this could’ve remained a friendly business arrangement, but I see that it can’t. My numbers are on those papers. Call me in Paris when they’re signed. Don’t take too long. I’ll pay the check. I’m no cad.” And he was gone.
Title Heaven Is On the Left: Book 4
Genre LGBT Historical Fiction
Publisher Sans Merci
How far would you go to save the person you loved?
It’s 1956. In Heaven is to Your Left (Book 4 of the Juliana Series) Alice (Al) and Juliana arrive home from a successful run at Le Lido in Paris, only to be greeted by Dan Schuyler who has threatened to reveal to the world the nature of their “immoral” relationship. Under this threat Schuyler has gotten Juliana to sign a contract with him to be in a Broadway play. Now, the control and manipulation begins. Al seeks a way to free Juliana from this man’s clutches. She turns to Max, accomplished businessman, owner of two night clubs, to help her. There must be something he can do; he has friends who are gangsters. Still, Max does nothing. Or does he? Al knows she has to act. She knows gangsters too.
“Al, it’s a mess,” Juliana said into the other end of the phone. She was sitting in a phone booth in a drug store in Philly. “How could you have gotten me into something like this?”
My breath shot away from me and I couldn’t respond. Finally, I said—slowly— “I didn’t get you into this. Dan Schuyler did.”
“Of course. I’m just so rattled…”
“At least, I didn’t mean to. I still haven’t figured out which one of my so-called colleagues betrayed…”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter who. It’s done.”
“It matters to me. Hold on a sec.” I pushed a button on my dictograph. “Lucille.”
“Jackson!” She squawked at me.
“Hold all my calls till I tell you different.”
I really had to have a talk with Lucille. Then a thought… Could her sudden jive talk be a reason for firing her? I went back to the phone. “Jule, I’m back.” I slipped the earring off my phone ear, so I could hear her better.
“It’s the play,” she said. “They yanked out three songs yesterday and put in two new ones. We open tomorrow night!”
“That’s how try-outs are. Lots of changes at the last minute. You’ve had to deal with that in the clubs too.”
“Never like this. No one seems to know what they’re doing. One of the songs they cut was perfect for my voice. And they still haven’t found a real choreographer yet. They’ve got this kid ballet dancer flying around the stage and I think he’s supposed to be choreographing…
“Yes. That’s him.”
“He’s Harry Fielding’s nephew.”
“He is? Our Harry Fielding, the director?
“Well, our Harry Fielding doesn’t seem to trust his own nephew.”
“He doesn’t. The scuttlebutt around Broadway is when Harry said yes to directing Heaven he promised his sister he’d give the kid a shot.”
“He’s trying to make up for the kid by directing the acting and the dancing. Only he doesn’t know the first thing about being graceful. He’s got us all clomping around the stage like drunken circus elephants. Schuyler’s a nervous wreck and keeps pacing in the back of the rehearsal studio. Why doesn’t he do something besides threaten me?”
“Has he said anything to you about—you know, in front of other people?”
“No. He wouldn’t. Almost everyone in the cast belongs to our ‘club.’ He’d be outnumbered.”
“Maybe that’s it. Tell the others in the cast what he’s doing and…”
“And what? They’ll defend me against him? I tell them this and you won’t find one of ‘those kind’ in the bunch. Except for me who just committed professional suicide. Al, the stress is softening your brain.”
“You’re right. It all just makes me so damn mad. I want to punch someone.”
“What’s unnerving me is that Schuyler isn’t out hiring a choreographer and a new musical director. He’s supposed to be the producer. When is he going to produce?”
“I wonder if he’s running out of money?”
“With only half a show? Have you heard anything. I’m in a disaster, aren’t I?”
“No Harry’ll pull it together.” How could I have said such a thing to her?
“Yesterday, Schuyler dressed down the juvenile in the cruelest language. This morning the poor kid looked shell-shocked and couldn’t get a note out. And the poor book writer. This book he’s written is a lot better than the last horror he wrote for me. But Schuyler and Harry too keep telling him to make these ridiculous changes and the kid won’t stand up to them. They’re ruining his script. I won’t be able to take another …” she whispered, “… flop. And if I do … flop,” she choked out, “then what will Schuyler do to me?”
Title Do You Know Dorothy?: Book 5
Genre LGBT Historical Fiction
Publisher Sans Merci
Can a group of aging drag queens save a nightclub from going under?
It's 1956 and television is stealing Alice's nightclub audience. Known as Al to everyone in the club scene, she has to try to prevent the mob from taking over her crippled club and turning it into a strip joint.
Her one solace: Juliana, the woman who haunts her memories and fuels her dreams of a brighter future. But the last time Al saw her was the day Juliana's husband caught them in bed together.
On the brink of losing her love and her livelihood, Al makes a bold decision. She arranges an extravagant production starring aging female impersonators, even though funding the show means going into debt.
Will the show succeed in saving her club and helping her find her way back to Juliana? Or will Al's big risk result in losing everything? DO YOU KNOW DOROTHY? is the fifth book in the Juliana series of historical LGBT fiction, but you can also enjoy it as a standalone novel.
Max sat up straight on the couch as I entered the living room. “My god, what happened to you?”
“Don’t you like it?” I adjusted my blue and white striped skinny tie, shook my shoulders so my blue suit jacket and held out one foot to show off the black cowboy boots. I pulled the jacket open and grabbed the belt on my black jeans. “And look!” I stuck my hips out. “A fly!”
“Cover yourself!” He shielded his eyes with his hand. “You didn’t wear that in public!”
“Yeah! Well, I took a cab home.”
“You could’ve been killed walking around with that on your head. What is it? Halloween?”
“I’m a butch!” I turned my back to him. “See? This is a DA. That means duck’s ass for you old fogies.”
“Does it come off? We can’t have you at the club looking like that.”
“I can set it with those darn curlers and get it back to my boring page boy.”
“I better not see you at the club wearing anything remotely similar.”
“Of course not, but on my off hours…”
“You can’t take chances like you did tonight.”
“Getting arrested is the best that could happen to you.”
“Where’d you get them?”
“I went shopping.”
“What store would sell you clothes like that? They’re for men.”
“I went as a man.”
“I was so scared they’d figure it out and show me the door.” I sat on the coffee table.
“Sit on the couch like a lady.”