The Lesbian Edition
- this issue sponsored by -
Volume 2 Number 1
Call this the issue that wouldn’t quit! Every time we were ready to wrap, there
would be another news story we couldn’t resist. So this issue is long on books
and rich in news. To keep it manageable, we’ll send the news first as #13, followed
by the books, as issue #14 a few days later.
Features include the rebirth of Spinsters Ink, a rant about conservatives’
reactions to the news that Abraham Lincoln wasn't straight, and a round-up of
book-related travel opportunities.
Yours in spreading the words,
Books To Watch Out For
Mary Cheney has signed up to write the first book for Threshold, Simon
& Schuster’s new imprint targeted at the conservative book market. The imprint
is headed by long-time Republican strategist and Cheney family friend Mary Matalin.
It should be a very, um, interesting book and interesting to see where Cheney
draws the lines as she ends her silence. In making the announcement Matalin said
that Cheney was barred from discussing her personal life while working as a top
aide on her father's 2000 and 2004 campaigns but that the memoir will give her
an opportunity to speak her mind. Cheney’s statement said "The first time
I campaigned with my father, I was 8 years old... I've been involved with campaigns
as a family member, a staffer and, though I certainly never intended it, as a
political target for the other side.” Ouch! Don’t look for wildly progressive
Is Dick Cheney lining up to run for President in 2008? If so, getting Mary’s
“gay story” out of the way well before the election is probably his best bet.
Look for the book in 2006.
Allison is finishing a new book, working title: She Who – or maybe
Sanctuary. It focuses on three women - Cassie, a twenty-three-year-old
who survived a nearly fatal assault in a parking garage in San Francisco, her
mother Barbara, who became an anti-violence activist after her daughter's attack,
and Margaret, a sixty-year-old ex-nun who runs a goat farm on the California coast.
Lesbian Publishing in Taiwan
Must Muster Publishing is the world's first Chinese-language lesbian publishing
house and is the first gay or lesbian publisher to exhibit at the Taipei International
Book Exhibit. That might be gutsy enough for most publishers – but founder Lin
Han-yu is also reported to have set precedent by refusing to put “R” (restricted
to people over 18) labels and seals on her publications.
“Our books focus on various issues of lesbianism,” she told the Taipei Times.
“Sex only makes up a small part and is touched on only slightly. Since the contents
contain nothing restricted, we will not label the books nor have them sealed.”
The article also reported that she launched the press in 2000 “Without any
resources or knowing any writers,” after looking for lesbian books and finding
only a church publication saying that homosexuality is a sin... “Volunteers staffed
her booth since she cannot afford to hire employees. She makes around US$300 a
month and is in debt to the tune of US$9,500, but she is not worried about the
future. Lin said she would publish at least 100 books before she would even consider
If your Chinese is up to speed, learn more about Must Muster at http://www.2her.com.tw/.
Spinsters Re-Inked by Bella Connection
“It is my sincere desire to preserve the original mission and unique voice
of Spinsters Ink by continuing to make available some of its previous titles and
offering new titles under the Spinsters Ink name and logo in the spirit of honoring
a name that has long been at the heart of so many in the feminist and lesbian
publishing community.” – Linda Hill
word a couple of months ago was that Spinsters was closing, but the press has
found a new home and champion in Bella Books’ co-owner Linda Hill. Spinsters had
been for sale for some time when then-owner Sharon Silvas and Hovis Publishing
Company decided, in the face of Sharon’s failing health, to close the press late
in 2004. Hill is part of a small group that is taking on the Spinsters name and
logo and its remaindered inventory.
Hill & company plan to continue in the Spinsters tradition of publishing
works by both lesbians and non-lesbians that address significant issues in women’s
lives from a feminist perspective – books that name crucial issues and encourage
change and growth. They have announced plans to release at least six new Spinsters
titles in 2005 with a mix that includes mysteries, nonfiction, and women’s fiction.
Rights to books previously published by Spinsters have reverted to the authors,
and authors were offered the option of taking royalty payment in books (at 40%
discount plus shipping). The remaining copies of books went to Hill’s consortium
and will continue to be available from Spinsters. Hill reports that she is in
negotiation with a number of Spinsters Ink authors and that some may continue
to publish under the auspices of the new company.
Spinsters and Bella will remain separate entities, and Hill will work actively
with both houses. Both will continue to publish in their own traditions, with
minimal overlap between the two. The reincarnated Spinsters, for example, will
not publish lesbian romances. But it will benefit from access to Bella’s infrastructures:
warehousing, production, and marketing and distribution channels.
Spinsters was founded in upstate New York by Maureen Brady and Judith McDaniel
in 1978 to publish feminist books. In 1982 it moved to San Francisco where Sherry
Thomas took up publishing operation. In 1986 the press merged with Aunt Lute Books
(which Joan Pinkvoss had recently moved to San Francisco from Iowa City) and became
Spinsters/Aunt Lute Book Company. The presses separated again in 1990 as the Aunt
Lute Foundation became a separate, non-profit publishing house. Spinsters Ink
moved to Minnesota in 1992 where it thrived under the care of Joan Drury and the
team she assembled in Minneapolis and Duluth. In 2001, after almost a decade of
stability, the press was sold to Hovis Publishing in Denver, where it was managed,
primarily, by Sharon Silvas despite various ownership changes and financial difficulties.
Under Silvas’ tenure the press published new titles by Sally Miller Gearhart (The
Kanshou and The Magister, and reprinted The Wanderground) and
Anita Mason (Angel, The Racket, The Yellow Cathedral).
Sharon Silvas, who had owned Spinsters since 2003, was facing serious health
issues and, having been unable to sell the press, formally closed her incarnation
of Spinsters at the end of 2004. She continues to publish Colorado Woman Newsas a web magazine at http://www.coloradowoman.com/.
BTWOF Interview: Linda Hill on the Spinsters Ink/Bella Connection
BTWOF: Spinsters has been through a lot of owners during its 27-year tenure
as a leading feminist publisher. What’s your vision for the press? What do you
want to do with it?
Linda Hill: We plan to give it new life and to let it flourish. It’s almost
easier to say right now what the press won’t be – rather than what it will
be. That’s primarily because this is a very new acquisition and we have so many
details to work out. At this point, we know that it will not be another Bella
Books and that there will be little overlap between the two presses in terms of
what they publish. Spinsters will publish fiction and nonfiction by and about
women, but, unlike Bella, all of the books won’t necessarily be lesbian specific.
What kind of books are you looking for? When will Spinsters start accepting
looking for both fiction and nonfiction. For fiction, we’re looking for stories
and storytellers whose work does not fall into traditional genre categories such
as romance or erotica. The work might speak to the broader social and cultural
issues facing women and their relationships – or it may just be a really great
story. We’re looking for both lesbian and women’s fiction. We would also like
to see some good young adult fiction as well. We also expect to have a mystery
series or two.
We’re already accepting manuscripts. So far we don’t have specific submission
guidelines, but we expect to have details like that complete and available on
the Spinsters website before too long.
In terms of nonfiction, the door is wide open. We’re looking for relevant,
informative manuscripts that address current events, health and well-being, or
have significant biographical or historical relevance for women.
What titles do you have lined up for Spinsters? When will the first books
be coming? Can you say anything about other titles in the works?
Fortunately at Bella, we receive quite a number of queries and manuscripts
each day. From that pool, we have accepted manuscripts from three authors for
Spinsters so far. We’re in the middle of contract negotiations with two and so
we can’t announce those titles quite yet.
The first author and titles that the new Spinsters Ink will launch is Jennifer
L. Jordan. Her last novel, Commitment to Die, is a Lammy nominee
this year from Bean Pole Books. Spinsters will pick up Commitment to Die
and will soon be publishing the rest of the books in the Kristin Ashe mystery
series. Jennifer is an exceptional writer, and we’re thrilled that she has come
on board to help us launch the new Spinsters mystery line.
How will Spinsters benefit from Bella’s infrastructure?
The good news for Spinsters (and now I’m back to wearing my Bella hat) is
that we already have a strong infrastructure in place and Spinsters will
be able to share many of the resources that would normally take a new publishing
house months to develop and put into place. We already have a fine production
staff of editors, proofers, typesetters and cover designers. We already have a
large warehouse staffed with capable people who pride themselves on exceptional
customer service. We already have existing distribution and marketing channels
that will simply pick up the Spinsters line in a way that will ultimately become
Spinsters can share all of these resources that should allow it to hit the
ground running. That doesn’t mean we won’t be expanding, though. We’re actively
looking to add to our production staff as well as the staff in our warehouse and
offices to handle the additional work that another press will bring.
How will this expansion affect Bella?
The addition of Spinsters will not alter or reduce Bella’s production schedule
or our commitment to produce the same type of popular fiction that has made Bella
so successful thus far.
That said, we suffer from what I’m sure many houses suffer from – too much
to do and not enough staff to do it all. So the biggest change overall will be
in staffing. There will be new opportunities for others to take on different roles
within the organization.
How much of Spinsters’ remaindered inventory did you buy?
We picked up the majority of the remaindered inventory from Spinsters, although
we haven’t yet taken physical possession of it. At this point it’s uncertain what
we’ll be able to make available to bookstores. Many of the rights reverted back
to the authors. We are just beginning to contact the individual authors and are
hopeful that we will be able to work with some toward keeping their work with
us. It’s always a difficult situation when something like this happens and, unfortunately,
it’s the authors who often suffer the brunt of it all. We hope to remedy that
as much as possible.
In what other directions is the consortium expanding?
Oh my! I don’t think we have enough space or time here! We’re growing and
expanding in all kinds of ways.
In December of last year we absorbed the inventory from Rising Tide Press.
Unfortunately, over time many of these titles will have to be remaindered. But
the good news is that we’ve already brought a couple of the Rising Tide authors
over to Bella, and we expect more to follow. We’re hopeful that over time we’ll
develop long-term relationships with a number of the old RTP authors and with
their readers as well.
Probably the biggest area of expansion will be in distribution. Over the past
year, I’ve spent quite a lot of time talking with a number of small press publishers,
and I’ve heard the same sentiment echoed from each and every one of them. Everyone
seems to suffer from poor distribution and representation in the independent bookstores
and also at the big chains. There’s also a complaint of a lack of cohesive foreign
and direct sales.
We decided to see if we could partner with some of the other presses to find
a solution to benefit each of us. As a result, we’ve begun to develop unique relationships
with both publishers and wholesalers. We’ve formed a new company, Bella Distribution,
that we believe will provide promotional and distribution services to publishers
that just didn’t have access to those services in the past.
Specifically, Bella Distribution plans to provide marketing and product to
individuals, bookstores, and wholesalers world-wide. We plan to leverage the relationships
and distribution channels we already have in place to help gain more exposure
for our small press partners.
I should be clear that the publishers we’ll be distributing are in no way
owned or acquired by us. They are wholly separate publishers. We expect that this
new model will be one of cooperative use of common resources in an effort to broaden
the market for everyone.
We’re already making titles from other publishers available to bookstores
and individuals. One way we’re doing this is through the introduction of Bella’s
Bookshelf (currently on our website) where we highlight and promote specific titles
from publishers with whom we’ve partnered.
The first publisher with whom we’ve partnered is Bold Strokes Books, which
publishes the prolific – and best-selling author – Radclyffe. Len Barot, president
of Bold Strokes, has graciously worked with us as we go through growing pains
and work out some of the kinks in the process.
The response from other publishers has been quite good and we already have
a waiting list of publishers who are interested in partnering with us as well.
Realistically, though, I don’t expect that we’ll take on more publishers before
June of this year. That should give us enough time to correct any issues we identify
and to have our plans fully developed.
So is the Bella Consortium (or whatever we should call it) really going
to take over the entire lesbian publishing industry?
You’ve heard that rumor too? Ha! I’ve heard grumblings from some areas that
Bella is ‘gobbling up publishers’ left and right. Of course that’s not
how I see it at all! We have never gone out looking for houses that might be closing
or looking to relinquish their inventory. So far we’ve been in the very fortunate
position of being able to help out some of our fellow publishers when we’ve been
contacted. In the case of Rising Tide and Spinsters – even though the situations
are quite different – our goal has been to give the existing authors a new home
where they can feel part of a family, where they know their work will be welcome,
and where they will be respected. And frankly, where they know their royalties
will be paid! In the case of Spinsters, we have every intention of keeping and
growing the long-standing tradition of the press.
We’re fortunate. Barbara Grier and Donna McBride created a foundation and
passed a legacy on to us for which I feel a tremendous gratitude, and a certain
responsibility. They have mentored us and given us a blueprint that seems to
be working just fine. I am often reminded that things could be a whole lot harder
for us, particularly as I see the struggles that others are going through.
The truth is that all of us absolutely love what we’re doing. We want to work
with others as much as possible toward our goals – which seem far more common
than they are different. In recent months I’ve been asked a lot about how it is
that we can work so hard to promote a competitor. That seems so ridiculous to
me. Our growing relationship with other publishers is an entirely reciprocal process.
We believe that by helping to introduce books from other publishers to our readers,
we’re seriously growing the reader pool. Bringing together loyal readers and a
diverse array of authors benefits every publisher and author involved.
We have so many customers who have read every single one of our books, who
call everyday, asking us to please recommend another book to them. They don’t
care if we published it or not – they just trust us enough to point them toward
another good book and another good story. We’re just determined to make sure they
always have one waiting.
Abe Liked Boys
The hoopla surrounding the publication of The Intimate World of Abraham
Lincoln, in which CA Tripp (The Homosexual Matrix) makes a compelling
case for Lincoln’s bi - if not primarily gay – sexuality, is so notable
because it’s so absent.
As if we’re to believe this, “Oh really, so what?” non-response to the
Or the, “Well, he wasn’t really gay – ‘gay’ didn’t exist back then”
Or (and this is my favorite) the “Well, men coming against other men’s
thighs was just a good, clean way for men who weren’t married to get sexual release”
Of course it doesn’t matter that Lincoln was gay (or bisexual), or that
he had sex with men, or that all the people he loved most were men (except, perhaps,
to his chronically unhappy wife, to whom it undoubtedly mattered greatly). What
is the homophobic right going to do, go back in time and repeal the Emancipation
Proclamation? Lose the Civil War? (“Oh, Abraham Lincoln was gay?! Well,
in that case, let’s just divide this country into the Industrial North and the
Southern Agrarian States, return the Louisiana Purchase to France and the Southwest
and all of California to Mexico and blow this whole westward expansion/manifest
destiny/global power thing and get back to an America untainted by homosexuals
living their lives!”) Not hardly! (But maybe not such a bad idea, given
this country’s dominance in the global village.)
But this silence from the people who led the stampede to impeach Clinton for
having a sex life outside of marriage? Why is it that they want to talk about Clinton's sex life but not Lincoln's?
It’s not Lincoln’s sexuality that matters – it’s the silence that matters.
And the hypocrisy.
Would today’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell military expel President and Commander
in Chief Abraham Lincoln from its ranks? (And how did we get from “coming against
another man’s thighs is just a good clean way for men to get sexual release” during
“his” war to immediate discharge during ours?)
Will the military, in the face of this national hero’s sexuality, update its
policy to “mutual masturbation is fine for parties of both (all) sexualities,
but penetration-without-a-license-is-grounds-for-discharge”? – And then
discharge all the soldiers, regardless of sexual orientation, from Massachusetts
as a preventative? Will Bush’s Pentagon refuse to go to war with soldiers from
Canada and any European nations that allow gays to marry or fight in their armies?
Can we demand that every homophobe who enjoyed Lincoln’s Birthday or President’s
Day school holidays as a kid (or as an adult) now return to school for an equal
number of hours of gay-inclusive history lessons?
And what are the black churches currently being courted by the Religious Right
as part of its anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment campaign going to do
with the fact that The Great Emancipator was on the Down Low?
How many zillion pages of text have been devoted to Lincoln’s life and impact
on our country without mentioning this one small matter of how he stood “outside
the box” and how that standing may have influenced his ability to comprehend
the complexities of his time? How many children make it through school without
learning about a single gay hero while hearing “queer” as an epitaph on the playground
every single day?
Those are the silences that need to end. CA Tripp’s The Intimate World of
Abraham Lincoln takes us several steps in that direction. $27, Free Press.
One Faygeleh Has Been Removed From This Story
Can you say satire?
the publishers of the Dick and Jane readers can’t. BTWOF’s sources reveal that
Pearson Education is suing Little, Brown and Company over the publication of Yiddish
With Dick and Jane for suggesting that their innocent childhood characters
could grow up to commit adultery, live in the closet, and some third abomination
which escapes me at the moment... And that’s after Little, Brown deleted
the word “faygeleh” from the primer, on the advice of some of the more
Not to panic: “Faygelah” was to be included in the sequel. But
the sequel’s chances of getting published, we’re told, melted with the lawsuit.
The lawsuit hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell – satire does have it’s constitutional
protections – but if it squelches the sequel, it will have done its tacky job
even without the legal win.
But the gay themes are still there: Sally has a mustache and teaches Transgressive
Feminist Ceramics in Berkeley, and Dick’s golf buddy swings both ways, giving Sally
a chance to explain a few things to Dick... $14.95, Little, Brown.
VidLits for Dick and Jane
As fun as all that is, I have to admit that I liked the movie even better.
(What movie?) Well, it isn’t exactly a movie, it’s a VidLit. (A
what?) A VidLit, a new form of, well, video literature, that some very
smart folks – Liz Dubelman and Paca Thomas - are using to create 2-5 minute long
animated ads for books - kind of like movie trailers - that anyone with DSL can
watch and forward to their friends. And, in my humble opinion, this is one case
where the “movie” is even better than the book.
Check it out on their website:
And check out Dubelman’s short story, “Craziest,” while you’re there. And the
VidLit about vidlets under Editors Notes: http://www.vidlit.com/editor/.
And, not only is it fun, it’s been a very effective marketing campaign. The
VidLit team sends out email about each new vidlet, but the real buzz comes from
people forwarding them on to friends because, well, they’re fun. Dick and Jane’s
weekly sales doubled (or tripled, depending on who you talk to) when the vidlet
was released – and the video had been viewed a mere (as of January) two million times.
Now that’s a marketing campaign! I’m dreaming of one for Books To Watch
Out For. If you know anyone with some cash to throw at such a project, send
them my way!
Jane Rule Sighting
Curve’s February issue featured a (much too short) interview with Jane
Rule to celebrate Desert of the Heart’s 40th anniversary. They also asked
her about the secrets of her 45 year relationship with Helen Sonthoff and gay
marriage: “Let us into the cage? We should be opening it up and letting our
friends out. None of my heterosexual friends are married; they’re much more sensible
than that,” was her reply.
You can order a copy from Curve at http://www.curvemag.com/.
Atwood: Not Made in the USofA
For a wild ride of an interview with Margaret Atwood, allegedly about her recent
essay collection, Moving Targets, click the link below. The interview is rich with advice for writers and
Atwood’s wicked humor. Moving Targets: Writing With Intent, 1982-2004 was
published in Canada last fall by Anansi Press and has just been released in the
U.S. by Carroll & Graf as Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal
Prose 1983-2005. $26, 425 pages.
Mary Byrne, who was for many years the key staff organizer for the National
Women’s Music Festival, is now co-owner of Out Word Bound Bookstore in Indianapolis,
with long-time store owner Tammara Tracy.
Denver’s 20-year-old institution The Book Garden has new owners, Debbie Trunkenbolz
and Crystal Hamilton. Store founder Kasha Songer has moved into real estate full-time. Both of the new owners are longtime customers of the bookstore and Hamilton,
to complete the circle, comes from a real estate background. They’ve renamed the
store Sisters Books: A Women’s Book & Gift Store.
Check it out at: www.sistersbooksonline.com.
Booking Your Travel
There’s a rich mix of dyke- and dyke-friendly book-oriented trips and events
out there this year. Here are a few lesbian specific, lesbian-inclusive, and feminist-but-not-specifically-lesbian
book holiday opportunities:
Olivians and Writers and Nature, Oh My!
I’ve never been drawn to the idea of cruises but this one floats my boat: Start
with Olivia’s “basic” Inland Coast cruise (Vancouver to Alaska), add some of our
finest lesbian writers – Sarah Waters, Dorothy Allison, Jewelle Gomez, Katherine V. Forrest,
and Michelle Tea – to the entertainment menu, gather a shipload of book-loving lesbians, add a
complement of musicians, say Suede, Wishing Chair and Sweet Baby Jai, and set
May 8-15, 2005.
Details at http://www.olivia.com/cruises/description.cfm?tripId=32 or call 800.631.6277.
Saints & Sinners
Saints & Sinners, “an alternative literary festival for the LGBT community,
their friends, and all readers and writers,” has earned a reputation for being
a sweet, warm, friendly, welcoming community of writers – with excellent workshops
– during its brief history. This year’s festival will feature Val McDermid, Poppy
Z. Brite, Sarah Schulman, Radclyffe, Ellen Hart, J.M. Redmann, Carolyn Gage, and
a host of other GLBTQ writers, editors, publishers, and reviewers. Everyone gets
into the act, alternately sharing information and listening to and learning from
their peers. S&S will also host InsightOut’s Violet Quill awards this year.
Dates: May 13-15.
Details at: http://sasfest.org/index.php.
The Unknown Universe of WisCon
world’s only feminist science fiction convention,” celebrates every imaginable
intersection of women and science fiction. It’s a veritable feast of readings,
workshops, serious conversations, rampant craziness, midnight readings, parties,
art exhibits, and bake sales. There’s an academic track, a kids' track, and room
for teens to invent their own programming. Talk writing, hobnob with your favorite
science fiction writers - this year’s Guests of Honor are Gwyneth Jones and Robin
McKinley, and I heard Mary Doria Russell say she was going just to hang out - it's
one of the ultimate literary vacations.
Dates: May 27-30 in Madison, Wisconsin.
WisCon, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701.
Golden Crown in New Orleans
The science fiction worlds are rich with “cons” for both writers and readers
of every conceivable fantasy/science fiction stripe, and I’ve wondered why the
idea has never really caught on among the lesbian and feminist lit sets. We have
music festivals everywhere, why not lit festivals? Well, Golden Crown intends
to start one:
The Golden Crown Literary Society is a newish organization to support lesbian
literature that’s grown out of the über-Xena, publish-it-yourself, and print-on-demand
lesbian writing communities and an emerging generation of more lesbian
In any case, the first GCLS Convention (for publishers, authors, readers, supporters
and fans) will feature panels, seminars, and workshops focused on encouraging
and advancing the art of publishing. The conference, which will be held in June
in New Orleans, will also host the Golden Crown Literary Awards.
Karen Kallmaker is the keynote speaker. Look for workshops featuring Lori
Lake, Radclyffe, KG MacGregor, Robin Alexander, Lynn Ames, Jessica Casavant, Jean
Stewart, Verda Foster, Kathy Smith, and Cathy LeNoir as well as editors Judith
P. Stelbaum, Stacia Seaman, Shelley Thrasher, and the odd lawyer and private eye
to advise writers on their particular professions...
Dates: June 24-26.
More about GCLS at http://www.gclscon.com.
Fire & Ink -- Austin
More details to come, but it’s never too early to block off time on your calendar.
Fire & Ink II: A Writers Festival for GLBT People of African Descent will
be in Austin October 6–9. The first Fire & Ink, already a legend, was, to
all reports, an amazing conference with a “family reunion” feeling. Launching
the second conference is a victory in tenacity: lead organizer Lisa C. Moore’s apartment
burned down just days before the first conference, destroying most of the records and
mailing lists for the conference, the RedBone Press office, and everything she
owned. And it has taken serious organizing and arduous fundraising to get this
conference back on its feet, so celebrate that tenacity along with the writing
For more info or to sign up for the mailing list:
To donate funds to help finance the conference:
Writer (and Spinsters Ink co-founder) Maureen Brady (Ginger's Fire,
Folly, and Give Me Your Good Ear) is offering a fiction writing
workshop for writers of all levels in Chiostro, Tuscany, under the auspices of
The New York Writers Workshop. The workshop includes private tutorial and critique
of up to 40 pages of work submitted in advance...
Dates: June 11-18.
Or email Maureen Brady at email@example.com.
Just want to fall in love with the environs?
The Green River with Pam Houston
Wow! The Green River, canoeing, and a writing workshop with Pam Houston. What
a combination! “Writing Down the River” is sponsored by the Women's Wilderness
Institute. The Green is a lovely, gentle river running through one of Utah’s most
gorgeous canyons, suitable for beginning canoeists and for balancing a pad of
paper while drifting...
Sept. 20-24, $875.
303.938.9191 or write WWI, 2885 East Aurora Suite 23, Boulder, CO 80303.
Read a review of Pam Houston's Sight Hound from the last issue of BTWOF.
Book Groups on the Road
Glenda Martin and Mollie Hoben have been hosting “reading retreats” for several years
under the auspices of their BookWomen newsletter and the Minnesota
Women’s Press. A Reading Retreat? Visualize a book group meeting
that lasts for several days. Now they’ve taken the idea on the road. They’ll take
you canoeing on the Green River (“Books Afloat”) in October, to England’s Lake
District in September for nature walks to discuss women writers whose work has been shaped
in this countryside – or consider Boston or Sedona in June, Michigan
(with a focus on comparing books to the movies made of them) in September, Carmel
(CA) in November, Minnesota in the Fall, or the Northern Minnesota woods over
the New Year. All retreats feature quiet peaceful surroundings, good food, and
the company of book-loving, travel-loving women.
Dates and details at http://www.womenspress.com/books/retreats.html.
Or write Reading on the Road, Minnesota Women’s Press, 771 Raymond Ave., St.
Paul, MN 55114.
Iceland for Writers
Judith Niemi and Women in the Wilderness are running a trip to Iceland for
writers “and others” May 26-June 3. WW also does writers workshops throughout
the year combined with various canoeing, dog-sledding, and other retreats into
the natural world, several of which are particularly for cancer survivors. Get
more information at:
Women in the Wilderness, 566 Ottawa Ave., St. Paul, MN 55107; 651.227.2284,
Barbara Johnson and Therese Szymanski are looking for hot tales of lesbian
love for a new Bella anthology The Perfect Valentine: Erotic Valentine’s Lesbian
Love Stories. Deadline: June 1. Details at http://www.bellabooks.com/valentinecallforsubs.pdf.
Sinister Wisdom editor Frances Day has issued a call for material for an issue on Lesbian Mothers and Grandmothers. Guest editor of this issue will be Merry Gangemi. Deadline: May 1. Contact Merry at 985 East Hill Road, Marshfield, VT 05658, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raymond Lucazk (Eyes of Desire: A Deaf Gay & Lesbian Reader) is
seeking true stories, short fiction, stage plays, poetry, essays, and interviews
about the deaf and signing GLBT experience in English or ASL (on VHS or DVD) for
Eyes of Desire 2: A Deaf GLBT Reader. Deadline: August 31, 2005. www.raymondluczak.com/eod2
for details or email email@example.com.
Looking for Lesbians
Editor Don Weise has three lesbian titles in the pipeline at Carroll &
Graf (Kate Clinton’s What the L?, Marcia Gallo’s history of the Daughters
of Bilitis, and Cheryl Clarke’s Days of Good Looks) and wants more. In an
interview with Richard Labonte in the current issue of BTWOF: The Gay Men’s
Edition Don elaborates on a shortage of lesbian projects:
“Sadly, I’ve received almost no lesbian-themed submissions from agents. I’d
absolutely love to see more lesbian history and biography in particular... I’m
also looking for young lesbian writers, fiction in particular and with an edge
See Books To Watch Out For: The Gay Men's Edition #14 to read the interview
about Don's publishing career at Cleis and what he’s doing now at Carroll and Graf.
The Orange & Whitbread Prizes
Andrea Levy won the Orange Prize, the Whitbread Best Novel Award and the Whitbread
Book of the Year Award, and the Eurasia Region of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize
for Small Island. It will be published in paperback in the U.S. in April ($14, St. Martin's).
Susan Fletcher won Whitbread’s First Novel Award for Eve Green ($23.95,
Norton). The first is a fierce exploration of class, race, and sex in post-war
Britain, the second a coming-of-age story.
National Book Critics Circle Awards
Marilynne Robinson won the fiction prize for Gilead. The poetry prize
went to Adrienne Rich for The School Among the Ruins.
The Alice B’s
This year’s Alice B. Medal winners are Sarah Dreher, Katherine V. Forrest and Ellen Hart.
The award is given annually to writers whose careers are distinguished by consistently
well-written stories about lesbians. The award was funded by an anonymous donor
for the purpose of thanking writers for their contribution to the lesbian community,
culture, and identity. The prize includes the Medal, a lapel pin, and $500. Last
year’s recipients were Peggy J. Herring, Karin Kallmaker, and Radclyffe.
This year’s Violet Quill Award went to Through It Came Bright Colors by Trebor Healey. The Award is for new voices and is sponsored by InsightOut
Book Club and carries a $1000 prize. The shortlisted titles were: Naughty
Little Secrets by Mary Wilbon, Half-Life by Aaron Krach,
Van Allen's Ecstasy by Jim Tushinski, Father's Day
by Philip Galanes, and The View from Stalin's Head by Aaron Hamburger.
Stonewall Awards 2005
The 2005 Barbara Gittings Book Award in Literature will be awarded to Colm
Tóibín for The Master (Scribner). The other nominees were:
I Am My Own Wife: A Play by Doug Wright (Faber & Faber)
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (Bloomsbury)
Luna by Julie Anne Peters (Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown)
The Seahorse Year by Stacey D’Erasmo (Houghton Mifflin)
The 2005 Israel Fishman Book Award for Nonfiction will go to Joan Roughgarden
for Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and in
People (University of California Press). The other nominees were:
Beyond Shame: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality
by Patrick Moore (Beacon Press)
Both: A Portrait in Two Parts by Douglas Crase (Pantheon)
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (Little, Brown)
Warrior Poet: a Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis DeVeaux (W.W. Norton)
The Stonewall Awards are sponsored by the GLBT Round Table of the American
Library Association (ALA). They will be presented at the American Library Association
meetings in June.
The Publishing Triangle Award Finalists Named
The Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
Alexis De Veaux, Warrior Poet: A Life of Audre Lorde (W.W. Norton)
Alison Smith, Name All the Animals (Scribner)
Evelyn C. White, Alice Walker: A Life (W.W. Norton)
The Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction
David Carter, Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution (St.
David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and
Lesbians in the Federal Government (University of Chicago Press)
Graham Robb, Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century (W.W.
The Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction: Women
Stacey D’Erasmo, A Seahorse Year (Houghton Mifflin)
Emma Donoghue, Life Mask (Harcourt)
Heather Lewis, Notice (Serpent's Tail)
The Ferro-Grumley Awards for Fiction: Men
Adam Berlin, Belmondo Style (St. Martin's Press)
Colm Tóibín, The Master (Scribner)
Jim Tushinski, Van Allen's Ecstasy (Southern Tier Editions/Harrington Park
The Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry
Adrienne Rich, The School Among the Ruins (W.W. Norton)
Lee Ann Roripaugh, Year of the Snake (Southern Illinois University Press)
Maureen Seaton, Venus Examines Her Breast (Carnegie Mellon University Press)
The Publishing Triangle Award for Gay Male Poetry
Ron Mohring, Survivable World (Word Works)
Carl Phillips, The Rest of Love (Farrar Straus Giroux)
D. A. Powell, Cocktails (Graywolf)
The Publishing Triangle Awards will be presented May 10 in NYC along
with the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Publishing Triangle
Leadership Award, and playwrighting awards from the Robert Chesley Foundation.
I love Magician's Assistant and often recommend it to library patrons.
I've used it twice in book groups to good success. When I read it some years ago
I just assumed Patchett was a lesbian. I was pretty surprised to find out
she wasn't... and then even more surprised after I read about her relationship
with Grealy! Oh well...
I am assisting our local feminist bookstore, A Room of One's Own (Madison,
WI), with their 30 year anniversary. They are hosting a silent auction to help
raise money to create a fund to bring in more authors and artists (a la
Women and Children First in Chicago). Do you have a "Books to Watch Out For"
T-shirt, baseball cap, or the like you could donate to the auction...?? It would
be greatly appreciated!
Thanks for all your work on BTWOF–I not only enjoy it, I find it terrifically
Thanks! We don’t yet have wearables, but we’re glad to donate a subscription
to the auction. –Carol
Skirting the Amazon
In 2004, Amazon.com gave 61% of its political donations to Republicans! It
seems strange to me that a bookseller should support the party of fundamentalists,
creationists, book-banners and privacy-violators, but that is unfortunately the
case. Click here for details: http://www.freenortheast.com/ltred.php.
Actually Amazon.com is more of
a big-box retailer than a bookseller. Meanwhile the megalith has devised
a new strategy for maximizing profit – I mean “customer loyalty and market share”
– It’s offering customers a chance to pay Amazon $79 upfront, in the form of a
“membership fee,” to get “free” shipping. Now that might be a deal if Amazon.com
didn’t already offer so many free-shipping deals. But, like the book discounts,
you can expect those deals to disappear as the competition disappears and as people
get used to paying these add-on fees. But you gotta respect the innovation: most
bookstore memberships get the customers a discount on books, but Amazon is redefining
“membership” to mean prepaying for shipping – a cost one doesn’t have to consider
when shopping locally. Awesome! But there are plenty of responsible, lesbian,
gay, feminist and other indie stores out there that give 0% of their income to
anti-gay, anti-women Republicans and who actively build community, instead
of destroying it. –Carol
© 2005 Books To Watch Out For
Graphics © Judy Horacek
Books To Watch Out For
PO Box 882554
San Francisco, CA 94188