Aug 292012
 

 

Folks have been asking about the one-inch button set that you will get when you pre-order your copies Roving Pack so I wanted to be sure to get them up here on the website so that everyone could see.  They are made by hand, by me with my button making machine left over from my zinester days and using the amazing cover art that KD Diamond designed for Roving Pack.   Everyone who gets their order in this week – did I mention that pre-orders end on September 1st?  will get this little triad of buttons featuring boots, our narrator’s dog Orbit, and some genderf*ck art from the fictional youth center wall !

I’ve been walking around with a set on my messenger bag for the last couple of months, and they definitely are a conversation starter — especially those wee little boots! ;)

Aug 272012
 

In the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of introspective work, thinking about the novel, my writing career (a phrase I still am shocked applies to me), the amazing experiences I’ve been blessed to have and trying to envision what the future holds as I realize just how soon Roving Pack will be released in the world! In so many ways Roving Pack has truly become the book of my Saturn Return.  I’m not the biggest astrology buff and don’t buy into this kinda stuff 100% but enough of it rings true for me that I can’t fully write it off as carryover from my woo woo lesbian days.  The quick and dirty version on the Saturn Return in case you’re not familiar (thanks Wikipedia)

“when a transiting Saturn planet returns to the same point in the sky that it occupied at the moment of a person’s birth…It is an alleged phenomenon which is described as influencing a person’s life development at 27 to 29 or 30-year intervals. These intervals or “returns” coincide with the approximate time it takes the planet Saturn to make one orbit around the sun…It is believed by astrologers that, as Saturn “returns” to the degree in its orbit occupied at the time of birth, a person crosses over a major threshold and enters the next stage of life. With the first Saturn return, a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood. “

Now I would say that when I sit down and really take an inventory of my life, I feel that I made that transition from youth to adulthood years ago long before the start of my Saturn Return, and because of circumstances much earlier than many people do. Yet, there are ways in which this astrological phenomenon and the meanings behind it have coincided with the writing/publishing/release of Roving Pack and knocked me for a little bit of a loop – in the best of ways because well, that’s the kind of introspective edge play that I grow the most from and somewhat get off on.

 In a lot of ways, Roving Pack is about honoring where I came from – the queer punk worlds of my late teens that really held me and raised me up. It’s about documenting those worlds and communities and a period of time that doesn’t exist anymore. In this book I wanted to ensure that who and what we were would never be forgotten and be memorialized in the only way I know how – through words and stories.  Unintentionally, and unexpectedly (thanks Saturn!) Roving Pack also became my private and very personal goodbye to those times/places as well as to who I was—the lost, lonely, searching, angry punk boi who wanted nothing more than to be loved and was willing to compromise himself in just about anyway imaginable to get that.

It’s funny – I’m a little hesitant to be public about this for fear of it being misunderstood and misinterpreted, but in the last few months I contended with some of the most intense bouts of dysphoria I’ve experienced in probably eight years. I think there are a variety of factors that combined, but the primary one was my own internal processing of completing Roving Pack and preparing for it to go out into the community.  I’ve had a very complicated gender history, certain pieces of which mirror the gender path of Roving Pack’s main character/narrator. There was a point in the late spring/early summer where I was finishing the book while riding the waves of some bitter nostalgia as I remembered the intensity of that time/place where literally everything we were doing was new, risky and uncertain. As I finished Roving Pack I found myself looking through old photographs, both as research as I polished and finished the novel, but it went deeper than that.

It sounds funny that seven+ years after I intentionally and thoughtfully claimed femme as a gender presentation (a more conscious and intentional gender than any of the previous identities that came before) and yet there is always a piece of me that will miss the trans man/butch-ish/boi (boi = gender as apposed to boy = leather that I still identify as) that was so central to who I was. There will probably always be days where I miss shooting T, though thankfully those days are fewer than the number of days when I was on T that I wished for a different path, that I longed to feel safe enough to be pretty. I surf these waves of gender nostalgia periodically. I know that they tend to be their strongest when I feel invisible in my community- like when I remember how few people here in NYC remember that boi that I was, or when despite the trans sign tattooed on my arm I remain closeted about the gender paths I’ve walked. Early this summer was different and more intense than those normal waves. I had just finished the final edit of the novel and moved into production and the nostalgia and dysphoria became much more tangible, and I’ve come to since come to understand it as a subconscious fight against the goodbyes I finally needed to say to those worlds, and to who I’d been.

Click the main character in Roving Pack and I are not one in the same. It’s true that he has what was my boi/transman/butch name, but we are not the same person. The book is definitely not a memoir, and yet, the line between fact and fiction is always blurry, especially as the years pass and we become different people. Roving Pack is fiction, and yet for me on a personal level it is more than that. This is an intimate book, a painful one, but also a beautiful story that doesn’t wrap up neatly or cleanly.  I’m immensely proud of this novel, and both thrilled and humbled by the ways in which people have already begun connecting with it. Roving Pack is so much bigger than my past, my story, and me. Yet, at the immense risk of being misinterpreted as self-indulgent it is also my gift to Click – not just the very scared lost boi I once was, but the character he became in this book, and all the lost bois like him.

The thing that Click wants more than anything is to be wanted, loved, cherished, and protected. I spent my late teens desperately seeking family and wanting above all else a home.  It took me a long time to get those things, to have that life that I would fantasize about in crumbling basement rooms. I couldn’t find this kind of love and family then, it’s something I’ve been lucky enough to build over the years- it’s that family/home/foundation that made it possible for me to write Roving Pack in the first place, and now because of that through the pages of this book I can give it to him. In the pages of Roving Pack I wrote that little lost boi a world as bitterly confusing and dangerous as the world I’d known. I resisted all temptations to wrap his story up neatly in a happy ending. I couldn’t write a good book and also keep him safe from the painful things he needed to experience, but through the book itself I could finally and forever give him a home.

I unintentionally began writing the stories that would become Roving Pack as I first edged into my Saturn Return. Now as I prepare for the release of Roving Pack at the peak of Saturn’s Return, I think I got the message.  For me, the Saturn return isn’t about becoming an adult – I did that in my own Peter Pan ‘Never grow up’ sort of way years ago. For me this transition (ha!) is about actually saying goodbye to that boi, to that world, and once I fully realized that, owned and celebrated it, the weight of dysphoria lifted.  Roving Pack is in so many ways the product/manifestation/embodiment of my Saturn Return. My Saturn Return is about forgiving myself for making the choices, and forgiving myself for having been lucky enough to have the opportunities that brought me to the life I have now, and it is about finally (I hope) being able to say goodbye to the guilt about having survived.

Welcome home Click.

LIT! – NYC

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Aug 252012
 

LIT! is an evening of queer writers giving you their best fiction, poetry, and embarrassing life stories, while most of us drink in the name of art.

http://litnyc.eventbrite.com/

Hosted by Allison Moon.

Featuring readings by Mollena Williams, Sassafras Lowrey, Jennie Gruber, Brandon Lacy Campos, kd diamond, Brandon Bartling, and more to come!

Doors open at 8pm. Show starts at 8:30pm

Pre-order tickets now! http://litnyc.eventbrite.com/

** This event is open to all 21+ folks: drinkers, non-drinkers, queers, non-queers, writers, non-writers and anyone in between. Come enjoy great literature and great company! **

Aug 202012
 

the day we met

It’s hard for me to believe but this weekend my little angel turned 10 years old this past weekend. Mercury is the little dog who literally saved my life. As a puppy he gave me a reason to wake up, keep a roof over my head, and took care of me. He’s been with me through my numerous gender changes; pre-T, on T, off T, back on, and then finally off and so many more complicated nuances. This little dog moved with me from basement to shack again and again and we spent everyday together at the queer youth drop in center where he got the best socialization imaginable.  We came into each others life as I was grappling with trying to figure out

Mercury has seen me through some of the most turbulent years of my life, watched as I flitted in and out of bad relationships, and was there as I built a life with my partner 8 years ago. I adopted Mercury at six weeks old and he’s been my constant companion and little shadow ever since. This little dog has seen me from lost punk boy to the life of a stable queer author with a close chosen family that when he and I came together I couldn’t even dream of.  When my little angel and I met I was so lost, wounded and raw. In the year leading up to us finding each other I’d lost my parents, home, birth family, most of my friends, become homeless, had my heart broken and ground into the pavement by my first lover and most significantly lost the dogs who meant the most to me in the entire world.  When I met Mercury I wasn’t sure that I could love a dog again, truth be told I wasn’t even sure if I was capable of

baby punks

loving anyone. I definitely didn’t believe I was worthy of being loved, nor did I know how to let my armor down enough to let anyone love me. Then I met this little (at the time) three pound dog who was intensely focused on keeping me safe. Mercury taught me how to love, and trust,  and he put me back together and built me up.

Mercury’s been my constant companion, my little shadow through so much. Now at ten he’s pretty grey around the edges, and moves a little slower but we’re as inseparable as we’ve ever been.  When I began writing Roving Pack – which is somewhat (not so) loosely based on the punk boi I was in the early 2000’s I initially wrote the book without the main character having a canine sidekick, but there was  just something missing.  This last year during the most radical revision to the novel I finally stopped fighting, and included the character of Orbit a dog whose face now graces the front cover and who is based on little Mercury. With the edition of one little dog the book came together, my characters leapt from the page. It feels extra special to have memorialized him as a character in Roving Pack just in time for his 10th birthday.

Here’s to another decade little man, lets see how many adventures we can have…..

p.s. Mercury says: “please celebrate my birthday by pre-ordering Roving Pack– my face is on the cover AND is one of the special edition pre-order buttons”www.RovingPack.com


 

Aug 162012
 

A couple of years ago, early in the process of having realized that these funny little embellished/altered/shifted memory based stories I’d been playing with for a months was going to be a book I got some of the best advice I’ve ever received as a writer.  I was meeting with Toni Amato my writing editor who pushed me HARD in the ways I needed to be pushed as I wrote Roving Pack (seriously writing buddies – got a project you’re working on?  Hire him). Anyway, I was crashing hard having a lot of fears and concerns about what the response to a book like Roving Pack would be.  Kicked Out is a hard book to follow, and the novel is very very different. I was worried about some of the stories I wanted to tell – the really queer shit, the perverted stuff, the way gender works (and doesn’t) and I was nervous that those stories would be too much….. too much for publishers, and maybe even too much for readers.  He told me:

“Write the most dangerous stories you can imagine.”

I remember really vividly that moment when Toni told me to forget about the anticipated judgments and just write, but to write dangerously. It was early in the writing process for what would eventually become this book. It was at a point where I was trying to get my voice back, a voice that had been controlled and molded by publishers and editors I’d been working with on previous projects who had a vision for who I was as a writer, where I was going, and how my work should/would/could sound—— I hated it.   I’m an edge player by nature, and Toni knew that. I thrive on intensity; I’m best when being pushed (by myself and others). My writing is at its best it edgeplays, when it’s intense and hits the sweet spot of evenly matched grit and glitter. I honestly feel that Roving Pack is simultaneously the most edgy thing I’ve written to date, and also the best.

Toni telling me to forget the self-censorship and to write the most dangerous stories I could was a huge wake-up call for me.  He said that there would be time for editing, that I could shift and edit and remove stories that felt too dangerous later, but for the moment the most important thing was to get them onto the page.  I wrote his message on a post-it note and kept it hung above my writing desk. By the time Roving Pack was finished, edited, edited again, reworked, and edited further I had made the decision to keep every single dangerous story.  In the end, Roving Pack is a far edgier novel than I could even have anticipated when I began working on it, and it’s a far better book because of the risks I took around style, and form, but especially around content.

Yesterday an old friend told me “some people birth babies, you birth books.”  It’s true.  Writing a book and seeing it through publication feels very much like giving birth, and is no less intense the second time around.  Roving Pack is it’s own book, made possible in so many ways because of the experience I’ve had with Kicked Out but unique and distinct with a voice and life all its own. I’m so excited to watch and see where it goes in the world!

P.S. Earlier this week I went public on this blog about how important pre-orders are to me as an indie author who’s invested a lot of money in this project. I’m humbled and thrilled that the week the number of pre-orders has literally doubled!  There is still a long way to go for me to break even on this project and if you’re thinking you’ll be purchasing Roving Pack at some point, now would be a great time to do it!  I see more profit from pre-orders than I will once the book hits the retail channels, not to mention you’ll get to have it on your bookshelf before it hits the stores!  It will come signed/dedicated right to your door with special edition one-inch buttons based on the cover art!

 

 

Aug 132012
 

I’m so excited about the release of Roving Pack it’s not even funny!!!

When I made the decision to publish Roving Pack out of our own imprint I also made the decision to go out of pocket to do so. I was committed to doing right by this book, to not allow it to be fundamentally altered by publishers who wanted me to tone down the leather/gender content. Part of doing it right also meant putting out a professional product. I might be a strong writer, but I knew there were many things I couldn’t do.  I was committed to hiring the best artists/editors etc. in the community that I could find to work with me on this book. I had an editorial team of beta readers, a editor who pushed me hard me through the entire writing process, a pro copyeditor, an artist who created the art for the cover, a layout person etc.   It was important to me to hire queers in our community and to actually pay them for their services.

Authors, especially indie queer authors don’t make a lot of money from the books that we write.  Once the book hits Amazon and other outlets, the amount of money per-book I make will be somewhat minimal. That’s part of why the pre-orders are so important.  I had a picnic yesterday with some friends who encouraged me to be transparent with my readers/community about why the pre-orders are so important and as awkward as I feel about it, I know that they are right.  I am beyond grateful for all of the support that the community has been giving me surrounding Roving Pack. I’m still in shock at the amazing blurbs the book has been getting from the best of the best in the queer literature world – check them out: http://www.rovingpack.com/blurbs/  I can’t wait for y’all to have the book in your hands!

If you’re planning to purchase a copy of Roving Pack for yourself, as a gift, for your old GSA, etc etc. etc.. I’m asking for you to do it now directly from me, because these pre-orders are really my time to recoup the money that I put into publishing the book. When you purchase books as part of the pre-orders not only are you going to get a signed copy of Roving Pack before hit hits the shelves, and special release edition one inch buttons based on the cover art by KD Diamond, you’ll also be supporting me as an indie author!

Pre-order directly from me online at: www.RovingPack.com

xoxo

Sassafras

 

 

Aug 032012
 

Tonight I stumbled up onto the “Book Recommendations” at In Other Words Feminist Bookstore – my first home bookstore, the place that gave me my first writing award  (i’ve written a bit about them before when I got to tour there a year and a half ago with Kicked Out). The posted recommendations come from local Portland book clubs, and organizations — one of which is SMYRC the local queer youth center– the organization that raised me up, back in my (and its) crustier days. When I hit the page the first thing I noticed was that SMYRC had selected Kicked Out as one of their four recommended books.  I don’t want to sound so dramatic, but I started crying.  Damn. Were it not for SMYRC I wouldn’t be here, and were it not for In Other Words I wouldn’t be an author.  There’s nothing quite like having my work recommended by the folks that saved me, raised me, taught me how to build family, make art, and organize.  SMYRC in so many ways made me who I am and to have them now recommending my book?! Damn. ::cue major happy tears::

Aug 032012
 

Tonight I stumbled up onto the “Book Recommendations” at In Other Words Feminist Bookstore – my first home bookstore, the place that gave me my first writing award  (i’ve written a bit about them before when I got to tour there a year and a half ago with Kicked Out). The posted recommendations come from local Portland book clubs, and organizations — one of which is SMYRC the local queer youth center– the organization that raised me up, back in my (and its) crustier days. When I hit the page the first thing I noticed was that SMYRC had selected Kicked Out as one of their four recommended books.  I don’t want to sound so dramatic, but I started crying.  Damn. Were it not for SMYRC I wouldn’t be here, and were it not for In Other Words I wouldn’t be an author.  There’s nothing quite like having my work recommended by the folks that saved me, raised me, taught me how to build family, make art, and organize.  SMYRC in so many ways made me who I am and to have them now recommending my book?! Damn. ::cue major happy tears::

Aug 032012
 

It’s been a nice quiet week for me filled with lots of trips to the park with my dogs – though perhaps quiet is more than a little relative. Early in the week I learned that Kicked Out will likely be sited in an upcoming report looking at the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homeless as a way to personalize and allow current/former homeless youth to speak for ourselves (can’t wait to share details about this as they become public).  Otherwise, the week  the week has primarily revolved around media planning for the release of Roving Pack (very exciting things in the works) as well as the closing of the submission period for Leather Ever After….

After approving final proofs of Roving Pack I’ve been busy beginning to get reviews and interviews set up for the October release. One of the things I’ve been focused on this week is starting to get the blog tour together — If you’re a queer/leather/gender blogger and are interested in publishing a review on your blog please get in touch!  I think it’s really starting to sink in for me just how close the Roving Pack release is. I’ve been working on this book for the past several years and to be so close to it being in the world is really thrilling.  The NYC release event is set for October 12th at my home bookstore Bluestockings right before Kestryl and I head out for our Europe tour (more details coming soon).

Somehow August is already here and on Wednesday the call for submissions for Leather Ever After closed.  It’s been a really interesting process to be editing another anthology – one very very different than Kicked Out but has definitely reminded me about how much I enjoy creating these kinds of spaces.  Already just in the submission process I’ve had great conversations and connections with writers who have been genuinely called to and excited about this theme which makes the process of editing all the more fun. Needless to say I’m a very very happy editor as I’m making my way through 50+ kinky fairytale retellings. Leather Ever After is a project that has been unlike anything I’ve ever worked on – very different from my other two books and has so far just been a lot of fun to work on and while I’m not going to give anything away – lets just say it’s bringing together some incredible Leather voices in delightfully playful ways. The stories are all really awesome, and I’m really looking forward to 2013 and being able to share it with all of you.

For the last year I slowed way down on touring to focus on finishing Roving Pack, but with the two books coming out in the next few months I’m planning on increasing my touring schedule again and have been revamping my writing workshop offerings – including taking a leap and expanding my kink based offerings beyond my beloved ‘Leather Storytelling’ to include some D/s relationship based workshops!

It’s been exciting to watch my late 2012 and 2013 schedule is starting to come together — if you’d like to see me at your book club, conference, bookstore, community organization, or university in the next year this would be a great time to get in touch so we can start talking details!!!