Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales Editor: Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Deadline for Submissions: March 1, 2014 Publication Date: Fall 2014/Winter 2015 Theme: LGBTQ adult and YA fictional retellings of classic fairy tales in any genre and any heat level. Guidelines for Submissions

  • Unpublished short stories
  • Word count: 6,000 words or less
  • Electronic submissions only to:
  • e-mail header: Myth and Magic_ AuthorName or Pseudonym _Title
  • .rtf attachment (story)
  • e-mail body: story title, author legal name, pseudonym if any, address, phone/fax, e-mail address, word count, if story previously published: anthology title/publisher/Pub date, 50 word bio

Story Format:

  • Arial; 12 pt; .rtf
  • double-spaced; standard paragraphing; no HTML
  • file name: AuthorName or Pseudonym_Title

General Info:

  • Submission receipt within 7 days; Submission decisions by September 2014
  • Multiple submissions (no more than 2) accepted
  • Payment: $50 and 2 contributor copies

Update to 2013 Reader Resolutions: Item 14

Last week I posted my 2013 Reader Resolutions.

Item 14 on the list is “I will read a book written by a non-American.”

I figured this one would be fairly easy for me, given my love of Nordic mysteries and thrillers. I’m reading my fourth book of the year, and already half of them qualify for Item 14:

Punishment, by Anne Holt (also called What Is Mine). The first book in a series featuring Johanne Vik (a profiler trained by the FBI) and Adam Stubø (of the Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service).

Detective Inspector Huss, by Helene Turstene. This is the first in a series featuring Detective Inspector Irene Huss of the Göteborg, Sweden, police.

Part of what I enjoy about Nordic crime novels is their wider focus. Many American crime novels focus specifically on the crimes under investigation. But Nordic society is so different from ours–in many ways they’ve been fairly homogenous, so relatively recent and generous immigration and refugee policies are having a different kind of impact in those countries than they would on the U.S., which views itself as a nation of immigrants.* A central theme in many Nordic crime novels is “What does it mean to be Swedish/Norwegian/Danish/Icelandic?” Another theme is the emerging racism in countries that view themselves as welcoming and tolerant. For me as an outsider, seeing wider societal issues addressed in crime fiction makes the books more compelling than American crime novels, which often focus on the psychology of the individual and ignore the broader social issues.

*It’s entirely possible that as an outsider, I’m reading something into these books that isn’t actually there, but even if that’s the case, it’s still fascinating to me!

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2013 Reader Resolutions

2013 is getting better. My eyesight is improving, slowly but surely, and the bronchitis is going away. Now if only we could have some semblance of winter, I’d be happy (it’s been in the 80s here, which is too darn warm).

Now that I can read again (albeit in HUGE type on my Kindle), here’s my 2013 reader resolutions, adapted from a list by Camille Del Vecchio of the Penfield Public Library (in NY).

1. I will reread a book that I loved as a child.

2. I will finally read that classic from high school that I’ve been avoiding.

3. I will find a book of poetry and read some aloud.

4. I will spend an hour in aimless browsing at a library.

5. I will read a book written in the year I was born.

6. I will create a journal and keep notes about the books and magazines read.

7. I will assemble a list of my favorite people and send them my ideas about books (favorites, recent reads, and the like).

8. I will read a book to a child.

9. I will gather a few friends and read a play out loud.

10. I will read a book on the history of my town.

11. I will read a book written from a political point of view totally opposite my own.

12. I will read a book about a place I’ve never been.

13. I will reread a book that I just didn’t “get” when I was eighteen.

14. I will read a book written by a non-American.

Items 4, 6, 11, and 12 should be fairly easy, as they’re things I do anyway. I’m really looking forward to items 1, 5, and 8!

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At last, an update!

I’ve reworked the site a bit, to make it a little bit more informative. Now I just need to start updating regularly!

Some thoughts about book titles

A while back I clicked on a link that promised "the summer's best reads," and I was disappointed to realize that many of the books had titles that defined a woman by her relationship to a man: Somebody's Daughter, Somebody's Wife. Yet these books are being promoted as women's fiction: romance, chick lit. To me, that's problematic. I don't really want to read about a woman who is defined, whether by herself or by others (including the author), by the men in her life.

Then I realized I had no idea whether I'd chosen reading material, whether consciously or unconsciously, that reflected this opinion. I went through the list of books I've read over the past few years, which is about 375 books.

Lots of them had "girl" or "woman" in the title, including these:
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, by P.D. James
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Who Played with Fire and Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson
The Chalk Girl, by Carol O'Connell
The Blue Girl, by Charles de Lint

However, only two titles defined a woman by her relationship to a man:
The Girl of His Dreams, by Donna Leon
The Spy's Wife, by Reginald Hill

In the Donna Leon book, the girl in question is a murder victim, so almost by definition she's going to be characterized by her relationships with others (including the policeman who investigates the crime). The Reginald Hill book has as its central character a wife who is suddenly confronted with the fact that her husband is a spy, so the book is about her coming to terms with this new information and its impact on her life. Plus, it's Reginald Hill, which means it's going to be a good book no matter the title :-)

I'm a bit surprised, given the frequency of such titles, that I've managed to avoid them, and I don't know whether it's a conscious decision. But given how many book titles describe women, whether they are blue or silent or playing with fire, I think I do have some kind of bias.

For the sake of argument, I did a quick check on the male equivalents. Only The Chimney Sweeper's Boy (Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine) included a relationship in the title.

Why Barbara Grier Deserves a GCLS Trailblazer Award

As many of you know, the annual GCLS Awards have announced their finalists this week. The award I’m most curious about is the Trailblazer Award, which I assumed would go this year to Barbara Grier. Instead, I’m told that she was not considered eligible because she does not meet the award criteria (specifically, she apparently was not an author, which assertion boggles the mind). While most of us know Barbara Grier as a publisher and an editor, the truth is that Barbara Grier began her career as a writer, and she remained a writer whose work was published over a span of some forty years.

Here is the official description of the GCLS Trailblazer Award:

This award is for lifetime achievement and is presented each year to a single author in recognition of the contributions made to the field of lesbian literature. To be eligible to win, the author must meet specific criteria. The author must have:

·      been publishing over a period of at least ten (10) years

·      published a significant body of work

·      written lesbian-themed works that have had a positive impact upon the growth and visibility of the field of Lesbian Literature

Nominations for the Trailblazer Award are eagerly solicited from any member. The Executive Director, in concert with the GCLS Board of Directors, chooses the recipient of this award.

Now, let’s look at these points individually.

Publishing over a period of at least ten (10) years AND published a significant body of work.

·      Barbara Grier was an editor for and regular contributor to The Ladder, which was a periodical put out by the Daughters of Bilitis. She contributed articles and short stories, as well as book reviews. The book reviews themselves were published in 1976 as Lesbiana: Book Reviews from The Ladder, 1966–1972.

·      In 1967 she published The Lesbian in Literature (subsequent editions appeared in 1975 and 1981), a bibliography of lesbian literature.

·      The Lavender Herring: Essays from The Ladder was published in 1976. It was edited by and included an essay by Barbara Grier.

·      The Lesbians Home Journal: Stories from The Ladder was published in 1976. It was also edited by and included an essay by Barbara Grier.

·      She was a contributor to The Coming Out Stories (1980), edited by Julia Penelope Stanley and Susan J. Wolfe.

·      Her essay “The Garden Variety Lesbian” appeared in The Lesbian Path (1980, revised ed. 1985), edited by Margaret Cruikshank.

·      She was a contributor to Happy Endings: Lesbian Writers Talk about Their Lives and Work  (1993), edited by Kate Brandt. (This alone should erase any doubt that she is considered a respected lesbian author.)

·      She was editor of record on a number of Naiad anthologies, the most recent of which appeared in 1999.

Then we get to the final criterion: written lesbian-themed works that have had a positive impact upon the growth and visibility of the field of Lesbian Literature. It’s important to note here that “lesbian-themed works” is not limited to works of fiction. This means that works of nonfiction are eligible–essays, for example. I would assume that if an author's "lesbian-themed works" could be entered in current GCLS awards categories, they would qualify the author for eligibility for the Trailblazer Award.

That being said, I am hard-pressed to name any “lesbian-themed works” that have had a MORE “positive impact upon the growth and visibility of the field of Lesbian Literature” than The Ladder—not to mention Barbara Grier’s book reviews in The Ladder. Yes, Barbara Grier was best known for being a publisher and an editor. But she was also a writer, and I think it’s a shame that the GCLS apparently doesn’t realize this. I’m hoping someone has already stepped in and Barbara Grier is on the shortlist for the Trailblazer Award. If not, it’s an oversight that should sadden all of us. Arguably no one has had a greater impact on modern lesbian literature than Barbara Grier—publisher, editor, WRITER.

24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards

Today was the big day: the Lammy Finalist announcement! The awards ceremony will take place on 4 June in NYC.

Congratulations to all the Finalists, which included several BSB authors:

Lesbian Mystery
Dying to Live, by Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou
Hostage Moon, by AJ Quinn
Retirement Plan, by Martha Miller

Lesbian Romance
Ghosts of Winter, by Rebecca S. Buck
Rescue Me, by Julie Cannon

Lesbian Erotica 
The Collectors, by Lesley Gowan

Gay Mystery
The Affair of the Porcelain Dog, by Jess Faraday

Gay Romance
Split, by Mel Bossa

Gay Erotica
History’s Passions: Stories of Sex Before Stonewall, edited by Richard Labonte

Books and movies!

This year, I decided to change my reading habits a bit. I have some big books that I've been putting off reading, and I've not been reading as much nonfiction as I used to. So this year I decided to read the bigger books (one of them takes up the same shelf space as three smaller books), read more nonfiction, and while I'm at it, try to broaden my movie-watching.

I've finished 12 books this year and am almost through another. Of those, four are nonfiction: two about North Korea (recommend both), one about Harry Truman's 1953 road trip (interesting in parts, but I'm not sure it merited a full book), and one about an immigrant doctor in a rural area dealing with its first AIDS patients (by the author of Cutting for Stone). I've got a more recent book about North Korea on hold at the library; it seems to be a much more academic approach than what I've read thus far (one book was written by a defector, the other by a journalist). I've read seven works of crime fiction (I'm nothing if not predictable), including the latest from Carol O'Connell (I really like these Kathy Mallory books) and Arnaldur Indridason. Also, I read the first book by Malla Nunn, a crime novel set in apartheid-era South Africa.

I haven't touched the big books on the shelf, following the logic that library books come first because there's a time limit involved. At some point, though, I need to stop reserving library books and read what I already have!

I've only watched a handful of movies this year, mostly streaming video from Netflix. Two stand out: Last Train Home, a documentary about a Chinese migrant worker family, which I highly recommend; and Senna, about Ayrton Senna, the Formula One star, which I also recommend.

If anyone has any suggestions for books or movies, I'd love to hear them!

Why Same-Sex Romance Is Important

In all of the discussion about RWA and its chapter contests and the inclusion of GLBT in the definition of romance, one thing has been missing: a discussion of just why it’s so important that GLBT romance be included.

The realization of one’s GLBT identity can be an extremely painful, lonely, isolating experience. Some people are lucky enough to have a good support system—family and friends who accept and embrace them for who they are. Others are not so lucky. People who come out as GLBT can lose their families, their friends, their jobs, their homes—their entire lives are turned upside down. For these people, books can play a huge part in making them realize something of profound importance: THEY ARE NOT ALONE.

When a kid has been told all his life that homosexuality is wrong, finding a book about kids like him can literally be a life-saver. And that’s not just true of kids. Adults need that affirmation as well.

GLBT literature, like all literature, appears in all genres and deals with all aspects of life. By necessity, much of it deals with issues of alienation, discrimination, fear of living an openly GLBT life. Authors deal with this differently. Some approach it allegorically; for example, they might substitute paranormal creatures as “the other” in a society. Or they might create a utopian gay society in which there is no discrimination, a fantasy world for readers to escape the reality of living day to day as a GLBT-identified person in our world. Some authors have their characters put up a front to deal with their emotions. Anger, for example. Or humor. Some authors are able to produce heartbreakingly realistic characters, showing us their journey as they realize they’re different and struggle to lead a regular life with no guidance in how to do so.

Is it any wonder that romance, with its defining feature of happily ever after, should be so important to GLBT readers, who are told on a daily basis that their relationships are inferior, that their families are not real, that they are not normal and should not expect to be treated as normal? GLBT romance reminds us that we ARE normal, that our relationships are just as good as heterosexual relationships, that we do have the same possibility to meet the person of our dreams, fall  in love, and have that happily ever after.

GLBT romance tells that kid who feels so lost and alone that there are people out there who understand, who have been through the same thing and have found love and acceptance. GLBT romance tells that kid that it’s not wrong to want to find a loving relationship with a member of the same sex. That others want the same thing. GLBT romance tells GLBT readers that they don’t have to be alone. They’re worthy of love, and their dreams and hopes and fantasies are every bit as valuable as anyone else’s.

That’s why same-sex romance is important. That’s why we need to keep writing our stories. That’s why we need to make sure nobody tells us that our stories don’t count.

RWA and same-sex romance

For the past day and a half, I've been trying to decide what, if anything, I want to say about this issue. I think the best way to start is at the beginning, because this is turning into something much bigger than I think anyone expected it to be.

On the mailing list for the Rainbow Romance Writers, someone mentioned that the rules for this year's More Than Magic contest, run by the Tulsa, OK chapter of RWA, clearly state: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category. The reaction of the RRW was dismay; in previous years, not only were same-sex entries allowed in MTM, they'd won (Mexican Heat placed first in the Erotic Romance category in 2010).

A lot of us were confused by the reversal. I sent an e-mail asking why the change, and the response was that the chapter membership was "uncomfortable" with same-sex romance and therefore the whole chapter chose to exclude such entries.

When one of the RRW members e-mailed the national organization wondering whether the local chapters were allowed to exclude same-sex romances from their chapter contests, the response was that individual chapters were free to set their own rules. Which on the face of it is fair enough. However, the response included a reference to the RRW chapter contest, saying that from another perspective, how would the RRW feel if we were told we could not have a contest limited to LGBT entries?

Now, this misses the point entirely. The Rainbow Romance Writers is a special interest chapter, meaning it's based on content, not geographic region. There are a number of special interest chapters in RWA, such as Passionate Ink (erotic romance), Beau Monde (Regency romance), FF&P (fantasy and paranormal), and Kiss of Death (mystery and suspense). Nobody is questioning the right of these special interest chapters to restrict contest entries to their specific content area.

What we're questioning is the individual geographical chapters' right to restrict their contests to heterosexual romance entries. To be fair, as far as I know, MTM is the first chapter contest to openly state that they aren't taking same-sex entries. From personal experience, I can say that same-sex entries in chapter contests are often judged unfairly (when I entered a chapter contest, not MTM, several years ago, one judge gave me a score of zero in the hero and plot elements, plus a lecture on her definition of romance, which was limited to a man and a woman. Had her score been thrown out and the others averaged, I would have easily reached the finals of that contest.)

My understanding is that as more writers of same-sex romance are joining RWA and entering these contests, the judging is becoming less biased. I would encourage RWA chapter contests whose members are not comfortable with judging GLBT romance to contact the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter–we've got plenty of members who are willing to serve as judges.

However, aside from the issue of contests, I'm concerned about the broader issue here. I write GLBT romance and erotica. I identify as GLBT. I have been a dues-paying member of RWA for years now. I hesitated in joining my local chapter for exactly this reason: I wasn't sure what their reaction would be when they saw what I wrote, much less who I am.

If I were living in Tulsa, realizing the local chapter of RWA has decided they are "uncomfortable" enough with GLBT romance to completely exclude it from their chapter contest would make me think long and hard about joining that chapter–or, for that matter, joining RWA, because if RWA allows their chapters to discriminate in this manner, what does that say about the organization at the national level?

To writers who identify as GLBT, this is much, much more than a chapter contest. This is personal. This is about a national organization that is happy to accept our dues while allowing its membership to say that our stories are not romances, that our relationships are inferior. I think that's a big problem, one that RWA needs to address.

I hope I'm not adding fuel to the fire. That's not my intention. I don't have any answers. I'm just stating my own individual concerns. Thanks for reading.

EDITED TO ADD: Larissa Ione says on her Twitter feed that she and others volunteered to judge, but "Yeah…was told judges weren't the issue. Members being uncomfortable being contest that allows GLBT is."