Cindy Rizzo

Cindy Rizzo lives in New York City with her partner, Jennifer, and the requisite two cats issued to every lesbian household (well, most).  She has worked in philanthropy for many years and has a long history of involvement in the LGBT community, including membership on the founding board of Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), the organization that first brought marriage equality to the US.  In the 1970s and 1980s she wrote for Boston’s Gay Community News and has published essays in the anthologies, Lesbians Raising Sons and Homefronts: Controversies in Non-Traditional Parenting.  She was the co-editor of a fiction anthology, All the Ways Home, published in 1995 (New Victoria) in which her story “Herring Cove” was included.  She serves on the boards of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York and Funders for LGBT Issues.  She is the mother, and her partner is the step-mother, of two grown sons and a wonderful daughter-in-law.

email at



Twitter @cindyrizzo. 

1.  What genre(s) do you write in and what drew you to this genre?

My first book is a contemporary romance and the second book (in process) is as well.  I'm planning a third book that would be a historical romance.  So romance is the genre.  I guess I write it because I love to read it.  Starting with Naiad Press books many years ago, especially Curious Wine, I've always loved lesfic romance.  Earlier in 2013 I started reading dozens of these books and then thought about writing one.  I had about 50 pages of a book that I'd started many years ago, and that eventually became Exception to the Rule.

AJ:  I used to read those Naiad Press books too. Couldn't wait until they'd bring out the next one. Things are much better for readers of lesbian fiction these days. 

2.  Tell us a bit about your book(s)?

Exception to the Rule is a love story about two young women who are in college in the early 1990s.  Both already know they are lesbians, so the book isn't about coming out, it's about coming into yourself as an adult lesbian.  Robin has grown up on Long Island and hates her suburban hometown, so she escapes to NYC and hangs out with a group of homeless LGBT kids.  She's a writer and is accepted into a very elite, new creative writing program at the college, which is located right outside of Boston.  Tracy is from North Carolina and has lived a closeted life, with a fake boyfriend and a series of affairs with older women, including her mother's best friend.  As a Southerner suddenly thrown into life in the North, she feels like a fish out of water.  At first, Robin and Tracy can't stand one another, but soon they become friends and although there's a growing attraction, they each keep getting in their own way, resisting what is happening between them.  But to fully become who they really are as young women, they will need to find a way to come together.

AJ: Let's learn a little more about you personally.

3.  Tell us something not commonly known about you?

I have two grown sons, both raised by lesbian moms.  One is married to a woman is they are expecting a baby.  The other has a boyfriend and is in college studying art.  Another thing about me:  I love teen movies.

4. We all have them...tell us about your favorite guilty pleasure.

I guess it would be teen-oriented movies and TV shows. I'm a big fan of the John Hughes films like The Breakfast Club and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  I loved the films, Almost Famous and Valley Girls.  I've also been known to watch Pretty Little Liars (mostly for the lesbian character, of course).

5.  What is your favorite line from the book and why?

I have a few favorites.  Here's one:  On her last day working in an ice cream parlor as a summer job, where boys have hit on her for months, Tracy finally figures out the perfect come-back.  She's asked by some boy, "when do you get off?" and her response to him is "when I'm in bed with my girlfriend."  Besides the obvious humor, I like the fact that Tracy finally takes a risk to make a very in-your-face comment to someone in a way that would have come very naturally to Robin.

5.  Is there anything you wished I'd asked you?

How about:  what's your next book about?  I'm glad you asked!  The second book is about 1/3 of the way written and it's a book featuring some of the same characters as Exception to the Rule, but with Robin & Tracy playing supporting roles to their friend, Angie, who now becomes one of the main characters. This is Angie's book and all three women are now in their 30s. The book takes place in 2010 as Angie is about to face re-election to her second term in Congress. She's set up on a blind date to go sailing on the Charles River in Boston and meets Jan Clifford. Although there's a strong mutual attraction and a very quick coming together for Angie and Jan, there are two significant issues that they will need to deal with, one involving Angie's ex and the other involving the role Jan's employer plays in Angie's re-election.  My tentative title for the book is "First Comes Love..."

AJ: Thank you Cindy for taking valuable time to let us get to know you better and to tell us about your work. Below is information about where to contact you and where readers can find your book. 

Cover by:  Jan Wandrag 

Exception to the Rule

By Cindy Rizzo

What will keep you safe—and sane—when you find yourself in a new and unfamiliar place convinced you'll never find anyone like you?

For Robin and Tracy, it's the rules they set for themselves as they begin their first semester at Adams University near Boston.

Robin is determined to hide in her room writing until she can get back to her homeless gay friends in New York City, whose easy exchange of sex and friendship inspires her creativity.  She's sworn off perfect princesses like Tracy Patterson, no matter how attractive she finds the mysterious Southerner on her hall with the long blonde hair and tight jeans.

And Tracy has no interest in cynical, smart-mouthed Northerners like Robin. She has her own set of rules—fine-tuned back home in North Carolina where she had a fake boyfriend and an uncomplicated string of older female lovers, including her mother's best friend. Here at college, she already has her first conquest planned, and it's certainly not Robin Greene.

This is a love story about two young women who can only find their true selves by finding one another. But are Robin and Tracy willing to give up all they think they know in order to find happiness?

Sometimes in life, the person who will matter most is the one who's an exception to the rule.

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© JEN 2014