The Big Apple, Good Books, and the Holidays!

It’s always a pleasure to visit New York City in December. I do it almost every year. NYC feels like the backdrop of so many of my childhood Christmas memories, starting with my wide-eyed viewing of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and movies like Miracle on 34th Street.

I’m heading to NYC again this year, and I’ll take in the sights of the decorated department store windows, the ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza, the light displays on Fifth Avenue, and the hustle and bustle of Holiday shoppers.

But the main reason for this December visit to the Big Apple is to support a handful of fine writers who will be reading from their works in the anthology: our-happy-hours-graphic-small Our Happy Hours. 

This book, published by Flashpoint Publications, and with cover art by Ann McMan offers the reminiscences, essays, poetry, and short fiction of 40+ gay and lesbian authors (I’m one of them) about the impact of the bar scene on our lives.  The book’s curators: Lee Lynch and S. Renée Bess were inspired to launch this project after the horrific hate crime at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 2016.

Happy Hours book cover

Proceeds from the sale of the anthology will benefit the LGBTQ youth programs at the Ali Forney Center in New York City, and the Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia.

I hope you have safe, joyful, fun-filled Holidays. And don’t forget, books make wonderful Holiday gifts for family and friends!

GCLS-We are Vegas Bound!

In case you didn’t know.what

There is an organization dedicated to the recognition, support and education of writers and readers of lesbian literature.
The non-profit, Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS), has amazing resources for emerging and established writers, Writing Academyincluding a Writing Academy with master teachers, mentors and one-on-one consultations.

Additionally, the GCLS Conference…known affectionately as the Con.. is an amazing annual event, held in various locations across the U.S., where lesbian writers, readers, publishers and reviewers gather for workshops, panels, socializing and Madcappery.

You’ll get to meet all your favorite LesFic writers up close, buy books, get books signed, flex your reading or writing muscles, and join your fellow fangirls.

Next year’s Con (July 4-8, 2018) will be held in, wait for it….Las Vegas!!!

GCLS Vegas

Keynote speaker will be award-winning author, Lucy Jane Bledsoe (Bio); and Special Guest speaker, award-winning, young adult fiction author, Rachel Gold (Bio)

To register for the Con, or to get more information, try here.

Come join us. Because, you know, what happens in Lez Vegas doesn’t necessarily have to stay in Lez Vegas.

Provincetown Women’s Week

Wow. Did I have  a good time in Provincetown this year.

I spent a lot of time with my Bywater Books family–they are ALL talented, fun ladies.  I got to hang out with my new editor Elizabeth Andersen, who is a former editor for the nationally syndicated Doonesbury, and Calvin and Hobbes comic strips.WomensWeekLogo

How lucky am I?

I also met other amazing authors who I have admired from afar. I did readings with some of them. I read from Long Way Home: A World War II Novel, Bury Me When I’m Dead, and from a short-story in the Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices From the Gay Bars anthology whose sales will support the youth services of two LGBTQ agencies, one in Philadelphia, another in NYC. Our Happy Hours

The readers I met.  Amazing.  Discerning, supportive, wonderful people with interesting lives which include loving books.

I played Wiffle ball (look out knees, don’t fail me now).  I saw the amazing Suede, who was in a particularly sentimental mood. So was I. I met film director, Donna Deitch who screened her iconic Desert Hearts.  We all remember the first time we saw that film’s love scene.

A few pictures.20171014_113939
Panelwiffle ball team

 

PCW

Shout out to the People Called Women Bookstore in Toledo, OH

…and owner Gina!

                                        It’s Ohio’s Only Feminist Bookstore!!!

                                             They have a mystery book club, too.

PeopleCalledWomen                                     http://www.peoplecalledwomen.com/

 

Lammy Finalist

I had a good time at the 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards gala.  BMWIDCMMM

My book, Bury Me When I’m Dead, was a finalist in the Lesbian Mystery category.    I didn’t win this time, but honored to have my book recognized.

Thank you, Bywater Books, and the Lambda Literary Awards Board and Staff.

Someone Tell Me to Remove my Name tag.

Someone Tell Me to Remove my Name tag.

Catchy Title?

Book Titling is the funnest part of writing a book.   Working on the title for upcoming books.   I have 44 choices.  BTW  Is “funnest” a word?

book title
Give Me a Good Reason
Keep Me From The Dark
Hold Me When I’m Bad
Kill Me With Your Kisses
Bring Me to The Precipice
Ignore Me At Your Peril
Protect Me in The Corridor
Trust Me to Save You

Words On a Train

I, too, like writing on a train.  Yesterday, in a 2-hour trip from Philadelphia to Washington, DC I outlined my next book.   That’s the kind of productivity I can’t usually find at my desk.

Up to now, the appeal of writing in DC’s cafes/coffee shops/bookstores has eluded me. Orders for lattes, cranberry scones, and milling hipsters does not inspire my prose.  I need a grittier approach.  Case in point, last week, to get myself writing, I yelled aloud (in my own house) Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!!Train yard

My current writing is a set of short stories (more on that later) and a crime series, with lesbian protagonist, P.I. Charlene “Charlie” Mack.  It’s set in Detroit, in the mid 2000s, when Detroit was caught between an era of chaotic and depressing government mismanagement, and its inevitable slide to insolvency.  Then, sliders were more prominent than scones; liquor more ubiquitous than lattes.

The stimulation I need to write this series, comes from watching people in the urgency of their lives.  So, there’s nothing like sitting in a train station for a half-hour  before your announced departure, and spying the microcosm of humanity that parades there.   I get great ideas for clothing descriptions, how people walk, body language, and what I’ve come to label the various train “types.”

My short stories are about the dynamics of relationships–among friends, within families, occurring in casual encounters, playing out in workplaces.  Many of these stories depict the lives of black people, in all their huge normalcy, innovation, dysfunction, hope and challenge.

Those stories are supported by my life and experiences, but also from the information that bombards me from television, Twitter, Tedtalks, telephone conversations, and train rides.

Train travels…short and long…are wonderful sources for dialogue, eavesdropped or overheard.  The window seat provides a panoramic view of the backsides of people’s lives where industry, poverty, and creativity abound.  Peering into the backyards of houses gives you a better sense of how folks live, then the facade of curb appeal.  The manufacturers of today and yesterday display their real enterprise at the rear of factories.  Graffitti–phat, bold, cursive and colorful, demonstrates the vitality of ideas that wish to be expressed.

For me, riding the rails sparks my imagination; and locomotion stirs my writing.

 

NMAAHC’s Letter to Black Americans

Dear Black America:
It was good to have you visit, and to lay eyes on you and give you a wide-open embrace. I love you in all your hues, and do’s and views.
I admire your tenacity, creativity, and innovation. I remember you, and I celebrate your valor, swagger, intellect, and style. You have done all of us honor, and made our country greater than it might have been. I am proud of you.
I hope you can see, from the care we have given in preparation of your visit, that we deeply appreciate you.
It is our privilege to welcome all visitors. But your company is especially cherished. NMAAHCPlease, don’t let too much time pass, before I see you again.

With all, due, fondness,
National Museum of African American History and Culture.