Sep 302012
 

This weekend, California became the first state to ban therapy practices that attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors.  According to the new law, mental health professionals who attempt ”to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex,” for minors will be subject to discipline from the body that licenses them.

I had my own experience with a ‘therapeutic’ school (and then wrote a show about it!) that used coercive treatments on those of us that were gender non-conforming or ‘sexual deviants.’  I am thrilled that California is taking steps to end this practice, and I hope that other states pass similar legislation.  Unfortunately, since many families send their children to programs in other states for treatment, banning reparative therapy in one state isn’t enough– but it’s an important first step.

I’m curious to see how this ban actually plays out, because many ‘schools’ offering this treatment don’t present themselves as mental health practitioners and are skilled at dodging the regulations of the psychiatric industry.  Will there be a penalty for practitioners of reparative treatments that are not mental health professionals?

The new law goes into effect on January 1st, 2013– let’s hope the next 3 months don’t have lots of ‘concerned’ parents in CA sending their kids off in a last-ditch attempt to ‘pray away the gay.’

Sep 242012
 

Roving Pack’s second review went up this weekend! Not only does it think the novel is good, but it engages with it really really intelligently, especially around issues of leather/kink community. The Leather content was something I knew I couldn’t cut from Roving Pack  and have it be the kind of book it needed to be, but I also knew it might keep some readers away.  That still might be the case, but I’m so thrilled that it’s also bringing other readers in, engaging them in really powerful ways and *hopefully* starting some good and interesting conversations.

“In Roving Pack, Lowrey does what I need from queer literature; ze unflinchingly tells an insider story, one rife with specificity, that documents a very particular queer leather culture in a very particular setting. I am very glad that this book is out in the world, doing its essential work…”

Read the full review here

http://tgstonebutch.tumblr.com/post/32061199243/on-sassafrass-lowreys-roving-pack

Sep 202012
 

This has been a pretty exciting week for Roving Pack. On Monday I got the very last of the initial pre-orders sent out!  I’ve been getting lots of questions about how folks can get the book now, The short answer is that very soon it will be up on all the big box online places where books are sold, and your local indie bookstores will start carrying it, but I also am (and will continue) to sell the book directly myself from the website.  There’s a little banner on the side where you can click the “buy now” button, which will direct you to pay pal.  Ultimately I still make the most money on this book (which I financed completely out of pocket) by selling myself, so if you’re not going to buy from your local queer/feminist/indie bookstore (have I mentioned recently how much I love my indie bookstores?!) and you want a copy of the book, then please purchase directly from me : )

The very best part about having gotten all the pre-orders mailed out is that they have started arriving!  Every day I’ve been getting messages from folks who have had the novel in their mailbox, or who received it last week and are already finished reading!  This is the kind of feedback that authors live for.  I was really fortunate not to write Roving Pack in a bubble, I had an incredible editor that I worked closely with at every stage, and also a number of preliminary readers who read various early drafts and chunks of the book and left me feeling pretty confident that I was on the right track. Still though, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like hearing what readers in the community who spent their money to support this novel actually think of it.

I’ve received so many messages publically on twitter and facebook, as well as private messages and emails from community members about what Roving Pack has meant to them.  I’ve been told that it’s “like candy” and impossible to put down, I’ve had people tell me how “hooked” they are on the novel from the first few pages. These are folks from across the country (international orders your books are working their way around the globe to you, I promise!) from different parts of the community, including folks who are self admitted not big readers!!!!!! Oh! And the very first review in the press came out this week at VelvetPark!!!

I’ve talked in my blogs before about how one of the ways I am most able to understand my complicated and paradoxical self is through taking in other narratives. Seeing myself, my life, and my community reflected back from the pages of a book is VITAL to me on an individual level, and it’s the driving force behind my creative work. With Kicked Out and now with Roving Pack I wanted to create a book where people like me, like the queer kids I grew up with could see ourselves maybe for the first time reflected back from the pages of a book.  This morning I awoke to another incredible message from a reader telling me how much the book already meant to him.  He wrote on my facebook:

“Holy fuck, I must say that in general, I never get to see my life / viewpoint / identity reflected anywhere in the world. Ever – queer lit does not represent me or my past. But Sassafras Lowrey‘s novel Roving Pack is definitely fucking amazing, moving, intuitive….This is my new Stone Butch Blues. If your queer cultural identity is like mine, you have to. Or if you want to begin to know me, you have to.”

That review absolutely slayed me. Goddamn. Every nuanced piece of it is still sinking in. for me.  The first person I dated, a butch, a daddy told me to read Stone Butch Blues. I read it the first time on an airplane moving to the south be his boy. That book chewed me up, broke me down, and made me see a little piece of who I thought I was, who I thought my people were come to life on the pages I held in my trembling hands. It was one of the first books where I saw any part of myself reflected, and it remains to this day one of the most important books to me.

The idea that Roving Pack has the potential to do that to a reader, that its stories could be their “new Stone Butch Blues”…… I don’t even know how to put into words what that means.  As an author, I never had the confidence to * aspire * to that, the idea that my work *has * made someone feel that seen/represented is heavy/intense/humbling (words are failing me big time here) and very much still sinking in.

Sep 202012
 

Click the image to check out what the lovely folks at Velvetpark think about Roving Pack!

“A  whole population of kids will now be able to see themselves reflected, at last, in the pages of a book. I’m sure there are other novels about homeless queer youth out there, although I’m equally sure the numbers aren’t enough. But I doubt if any of them contain the grit, courage, depth, and truth that comes with Click’s tale, full of an honesty that can only result from an author who understands hir world thoroughly.”

http://velvetparkmedia.com/blogs/book-review-roving-pack-sassafras-lowrey

Sep 172012
 

This weekend I got the very last of the pre-ordered copies packaged up! I took a batch to the post office on Saturday but ran out of packing tape and couldn’t get to the store before the post office closed so the last of the pre-ordered copies will be going out in today’s mail!

Roving Pack arriving at Trans-Genre headquarters as shared w/ me on Twitter

The actual process of getting the books sent to their new homes was a little more involved than I had anticipated when I started the pre-order process – making and assembling all the button sets, signing all the books (that’s my most favorite part of all—I don’t think I could ever get tired of that) addressing envelopes (why didn’t I use printed labels?!), and sealing all the edges of the packages by hand with packing tape because I didn’t purchase the right envelopes, and then of course actually carrying them all to the post office. It was a pretty involved process – but also one that was exciting, meditative in its own way, and ultimately just felt really fitting for this book that is so based in my DIY roots, and whose main characters are so intermeshed with DIY values.

On Friday the books started arriving in their new homes.  I found out as folks began tagging me on facebook and tweeting at me about how excited they were to find Roving Pack in their mailboxes!  It was one of the coolest experiences for me as an author to realize that folks actually had my novel in their hands.  Not only that, people started messaging me that they had started reading…… and that they couldn’t put it down!!!!

As an author I think there are few greater compliments than having someone like, be moved by, or somehow connect with what you’ve written. To have Roving Pack  be so well received by folks who pre-ordered such an incredible feeling. This is a book that insisted on coming out. It wasn’t necessary the book that I thought would follow Kicked Out but it put me in a chokehold and wouldn’t let go until I’d written it, and I’m so grateful that I had the support to push me to listen to these stories, and write them. Before working on Roving Pack I denied that I could be a fiction writer, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be able to write a novel-length piece. I was wrong, Roving Pack sure proved that to me! This was the book I needed to write. I know that in many ways it has already, and will continue to shift and shape the direction of my creative work to come.

Roving Pack is not a safe book. It’s edgy, and in your face, and I anticipate it will make some readers, even queers uncomfortable. Somehow in preparing myself for a possible backlash, I forgot that there were going to be people that liked it. So far people have not only liked it but who started reading and ignored their homework, housework, Friday evening plans and kept reading because they were hooked!!!!  I kept having these little moments on Friday night and through the weekend, where I realized that people out there were reading Roving Pack!  It  feels unreal that this book that has been my primary artistic focus for the last couple of years is now going out in the world – that it’s in people’s hands, being carried around in backpacks and read on busses, that folks are curling up in bathtubs with it, and sprawling on couches! People keep telling me they are hooked, and I couldn’t be more pleased/proud/excited!

I hope that readers continue to tell me what they think of the book ::hint hint:: I’m loving all the little messages springing up across my facebook/twitter/fetlife that someone has gotten their copy, that they like their buttons and then of course what they are thinking about Roving Pack as they begin reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 122012
 

A month from today I’ll be standing in Bluestockings, my home bookstore for the NYC release of Roving Pack!  I’ve talked a lot over the years in my blog about my commitment to independent bookstores – I very much am where I am today as a writer because of the support they’ve given me over the years from the time that I was a crusty zinester, up through today. It’s independent bookstores that consistently stock and re-order my book(s), and not only that it’s the amazing folks who work and volunteer there that over and over again recommend my work to their customers.  I believe that every author should be cultivating a relationship with as many independent bookstores as they can, and I hope that everyone can have a bookstore that they consider to be their literary home base.

I think I might still be a little in shock about the NYC release event, and thus the official release being so close! I have no idea what I’m going to wear, and I haven’t quite decided what parts of the novel I’m going to read – I’m simultaneously deciding what part of the book I’ll be reading while in Europe on tour in November because I need to send the text off to be translated into German for the Berlin stop (I’ve never seen my words translated into another language and am *super * excited about this). I’m just so grateful for the community’s support of me and Roving Pack and am bursting at the seams with excitement about being so close to sharing it with all of you!

This past weekend I sat in the middle of my living room signing all the copies I had of Roving Pack and preparing them to be mailed out to everyone who pre-ordered copies. As I mentioned last week the pre-ordering was so successful that I actually had to put in another bulk order of books to meet the demand.  I’m still overwhelmed by that.  Sure, Kicked Out has been successful (completely beyond my wildest dreams) but I really wasn’t sure that anyone was going to want to read this novel.  The support and excitement of the community for Roving Pack still is blowing my mind.

I came home last night to a note from my super telling me that I had four big boxes downstairs waiting for me – that’s my shipment of books. I’ll be able to pick them up later this morning and be able to finish filling the last of the orders! Yesterday I carried two large bags of packages to the post office and sent off batch #1 of Roving Pack.  I’ll be back at the post office with batch #2 later his morning!  I love that I’ve been able to be so hands on at every stage of distributing these pre-ordered copies and I cannot WAIT to hear what you all think once you read the book.

Also over the weekend while Brooklyn was under a tornado warning, and I was preparing copies of the book to be sent, I got an email from my tattoo artist that he’d had a cancelation and could get me in for some work I’d been talking to him about. One of the pieces (the other one I’m working on a separate blog about) is all about commemorating the release of Roving Pack, and what this book means to me. I knew from early on that I’d be getting a tattoo for this book – tattoos are not only one of the main ways that I reclaim/claim my body, but are also a key way that I mark important times/experiences/accomplishments/people for myself. When I saw Katie Diamond’s cover art for the first time last winter I knew that part of it would be tattooed into me.

Over the course of editing and preparing Roving Pack for publication I fell more and more in love with the little pair of boots from the back cover and just knew they were the best way to mark this book, and I certainly wasn’t sad about having the symbolism of boots permanently placed on my skin ;) .  I planned to tattoo the boots on the back of my right forearm – the top of my forearm is a large feather quill pen that I got after the release of Kicked Out and was about not only that book, but about following my dream to really be an author.  On the inside of my forearm are my two trans tattoos from my boi days – a fairly large trans symbol at my wrist, and stars with circles and squares inside which have a complicated story attached about genderqueerness.  I’d initially planned that the boots wouldn’t be very big, but then my artist and I noticed that at a slightly larger size they puzzle pieced almost perfectly in with my existing work and I was sold on going bigger.  Sometimes things just unexpectedly work out that way.  Not only was that true for this tattoo, but it’s been so true for the birthing of Roving Pack in just about every way.

I’m looking at a pile of envelopes that need to be tapped up before the post office opens this morning so I should probably wrap this post up. If you pre-ordered your books should be arriving soon, and if you’re in NYC I hope that I’ll see you a month from tonight at Bluestockings!

OCTOBER 12, 2012
Bluestockings Bookstore – 172 Allen St. NYC
7pm

Please join us at the official NYC release event for “Roving Pack” to celebrate the publication of this highly anticipated debut novel by Sassafras Lowrey (editor of Kicked Out)

About Roving Pack:

‘Roving Pack’ the debute novel by award winning queer author Sassafras Lowrey is set in an underground world of homeless queer teens. Readers follow the daily life of Click, a straight-edge transgender kid searching for community, identity, and connection amidst chaos. As the stories unfold, we meet a pack of newly sober gender rebels creating art, families and drama in dilapidated punk houses across Portland, Oregon circa 2002. Roving Pack offers fast-paced in-your-face accounts of leather, sex, hormones, house parties, and protests. But, when gender fluidity takes an unexpected turn, the pack is sent reeling.

What folks are saying about Roving Pack:

“Bittersweet, engrossing, richly textured and redolent of truth – a harrowing but incredibly rewarding read.”

S. Bear Bergman

Butch is a Noun, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You

***

“Roving Pack is a rough and tumble, tender-hearted novel that grips you in its teeth and won’t let go. A satisfying debut by a writer to watch.”

Zoe Whittall

Holding Still For As Long As Possible, Bottle Rocket Hearts

***

“ Remember that time in your life when you had just escaped the terror of childhood to create your own path in the world, maybe a queer path of chosen family, desire and love and lust and intimacy on your own terms, remember all the joyful pains and painful joys you were discovering? Roving Pack nails that bold and precarious time with a precision so rare it’s almost claustrophobic in its intimacy. It’s about a specific culture and place and moment – transmasculine queer punk kids in Portland in the early-2000s – but it’s also about the transition to self-actualization in all of our lives, and the scary and heartbreaking reality that often the pack mentality required for belonging in our new communities leaves us stranded. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a book that explores the intoxication and viciousness of peer pressure in queer lives with such candor. Goddamn this book is brave — I can’t wait to see the havoc it wreaks.”

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? That’s Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, Nobody Passes

****

“Sassafras Lowrey is so much more than one or the other anything. Ze is for sure a vital voice of hir generation, expressing as ze does, many mutually exclusive points of view on politically and emotionally live wire subjects. So, much to my delight, I find hir work filled with mischief, mayhem, and multiple meanings.”

Kate Bornstein

My Gender Workbook, 101 Alternatives To Suicide for Teens Freaks and Other Outlaws, Gender Outlaws: The Next Genderation

***

“Sassafras Lowery brings us a tale of gender defiance, in a universe struggling to be defiant. Roving Pack introduces us to the whirlwind queer subcultures of Portland, OR in 2002; and the dizzying effects of fighting against the world at war,and the gender binary. Lowery takes us on a journey through dilapidated punk houses, sexual revelation, donut-filled dumpsters, cluttered bedrooms, and the ever-changing struggle to embrace your gender identity, through your own definitions.”
CRISTY C. ROAD

Bad Habits, Spit & Passion

***

“Fucking A. Sassafras Lowrey takes ‘queer punk’ to a whole new level of insidious drama. Roving Pack cracks out the microscope to examine this Portland-based scene circa 2002 – whether or not the rest of the world can take it. My guess? Hella no!”

Kristyn Dunnion,

Author of The Dirt Chronicles and Mosh Pit

***
“An outsider among outsiders, Roving Pack’s deeply innocent and delightfully freaky narrator Click discovers that the expansive wisdom of heart beats the narrow logic of the pack. Lowrey’s novel champions a risky queerness that resists commodification.”

Anna Joy Springer author of The Vicious Red Relic, Love

 

Sep 102012
 

Last weekend while Kestryl and I were upstate at a cabin with our dogs on an afternoon stroll through town I found a book of postcards that were all vintage drawings of fairy tales!  It was a really fun little find and I’m now merrily decorating my home office with little fairy tale snippets to inspire the editing process and celebrate the new book that’s getting ready to be born!

One of my goals for September (and moving forward) is to start blogging more about Leather Ever After, this doesn’t in anyway mean the blogging about Roving Pack will slow down, quite the contrary I already have a couple of blogs in the works and I know as the official release is only weeks away there are so many different things I want to share with folks here.  That said, I also have this other book swiftly chugging away towards an early Winter 2013 release! Not only do I want to make Leather Ever After feel like some unloved fairy-tale step child ; ) that never gets blogged about, I’m actually really really excited about the book itself, I’m so grateful to Ravenous Romance for giving me the opportunity to put together such a fun book, and I’m really looking forward to sharing more with the community about its process of becoming, and want to be more intentional and explicit about sharing that in my blogging.

This weekend I made some massive and substantial progress on the anthology by finalizing my decisions (and notifying writers) about which stories would make it into the book!  I’ve been reading, and rereading, and rereading again every story that was submitted and so finally reaching the difficult conclusion of what fit for Leather Ever After feels like an incredible accomplishment.

I take my job as an editor incredibly seriously. Choosing the stories that will appear in a collection is never easy. The reality is not every story sent in can go into a book, not every story is a good fit but I never for an instant loose sight of the fact that behind that story is a writer who worked very hard and sent it off with fingers crossed hoping my book would be its home.  I see editing as a tremendous honor that people felt hailed enough by an anthology idea that they would spend hours, days, weeks and in some instances months focusing their creativity and writing a story that they then entrusted me to read.

It’s really exciting to me to witness the directions people went with the theme. The diverse perspectives on fairy tales that people took, and what this book is becoming is something I’m so excited about, and incredibly proud of.  Not every story I accepted is hot, not every story even has sex as a major focal point. One of the things I was really committed to was that this book would be Leather focused not erotic— which of course isn’t to say there aren’t some stories so hot and sexually charged your knees might threaten to give out as you read. Mostly though, when selecting stories I was most interested in the portrayal of power, and the ways in which the writers artistically wove their retelling to include kink while making substantial use of the fairy tale itself particularly in message and in symbolism, though I also had an eye for stories that turned an old story on its head in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.

Leather Ever After is a very different project than editing Kicked Out (my only other experience with curating an anthology).  Leather Ever After is significantly more playful, and the sort of space I’m holding as an editor both for my writers and the future readers feels less like holding and trying to stop the bleeding of a stabbed artery.  The most obvious difference this time around as an editor also is that this is not my first book, so I’m blessed to feel more solid and confident in what I’m doing. I feel like I have a solid community behind me from the very beginning, which is really vital to me as an editor. With Kicked Out I was learning as I went each step of the way, and building much of my community as I went. The process and end result (Kicked Out) is a book that I’m more proud of than just about anything else I’ve done in my life, but it feels good this time around, nearly four years later to have much of that community solidly in place.

Professionally on the heels of Kicked Out I’d been nervous about being so out as a pervert in my writing. Needless to say I got over that as the leather emerged as a key theme within my novel Roving Pack. I knew that when the opportunity to edit Leather Ever After was in front of me, that the time was right to do an explicitly kink focused book.  Leather has been a vital force in my life for over a decade. Now feels so right, and I feel so ready to be entrusted with the honor of editing and organizing a book like this.

 

Sep 052012
 

HUGE thanks to each and every one of you, who pre-ordered a copy of Roving Pack, and/or who shared info about the pre-ordering. I’m completely blown away by all the generous support from my community buying copies and getting the word out about the book.  I actually sold more copies in the pre-order than I had anticipated and had to put a second bulk order of books in to cover all the orders!  That’s sure not something an author gets to say everyday!

This past weekend I was lucky enough to get to head out of the city with my partner and our dogs. We went up to our favorite little cabin in Upstate New York and I spent lots of time listening to early morning crickets and cutting out one-inch buttons for the sets that everyone who pre-ordered will be receiving!  I’m glad that folks have been as excited as these cute little buttons as I have been, and I like that I’m getting to handmade a little extra thank you present for folks who ordered early copies from me : )

The past week I’ve been thinking so much about the power and importance of community – in this instance queers and leather folk.  To me (as corny and cliché as it sounds) community really is everything to me. I wouldn’t be here (literally) were it not for the community that took me in and raised me up when I became homeless. It was the community that I built that got me started writing, I’m not one of those people who started writing as a kid, it was too dangerous then to even dream of stories, let alone write about what I was seeing. I didn’t start writing until I was seventeen and trying to find my place in a community I’d given up everything to try to find.

As an artist my goal has always been and will always be to make art that speaks to my community. I strive to write stories, and create books that are by/for us. Lots of us (myself very much included) spend a lot of time trying to make ourselves legible in the media artifacts that we see, in the representations of LGBT folks and it’s often an uncomfortable rub.  My goal is to write the kinds of stories, to create the kinds of books that I at one point or another (maybe even now still) desperately needed for one reason or another and/or that those close to me were in need of. I want the stories I write to capture a moment/time/place/experience/identity that I’ve struggled to find reflected back at me in other places. For better or worse, one of the ways I am able to best understand myself, and feel most secure in the world is through seeing pieces of myself in books/stories/essays etc.  I write stories with the hope that in some small way folks feel less alone than my friends and I felt in a particular moment/time/place/identity.

In the last week as I was watching the pre-orders come in for Roving Pack and continuing to work on both preparing it for release and reviewing the submissions for Leather Ever After (I promise I’m going to start blogging more about that book too – wouldn’t want it to think I was an evil step-queer who didn’t love it ;) ) I was once again completely overwhelmed by the intense generosity of my community, and humbled by the ways in which folks truly believe in me and my work.  Last week I got word that people had been purchasing copies of Roving Pack not only for themselves but to donate to community groups that they are involved in!  Then, I got an unexpected package in the mail, it contained a very generous check from someone in the community who wanted to fund the purchasing and donating of copies of Roving Pack to individuals who needed that book but who were unable to afford it.

When I got that check I was literally in tears and completely overwhelmed about the generosity of the community and how someone who had on their own decided this book needed to get into peoples hands.  All donated books will be purchased at cost to increase the number of copies I can send out and the donated copies will be going to community groups in order to increase the number of people who have access to the stories.  I’ve got a few places in mind already from touring with Kicked Out and connections in the community but I’m definitely very open to suggestions of places, especially those without much funding who you think would be most excited to receive a copy of Roving Pack.  I’m well aware that unlike Kicked Out this novel isn’t particularly tame, and so I’ll be following up with organizations/groups to be sure it’s something they will agree to have out – last thing I want is for one of these special copies to sit on a social workers desk because someone decided it was too edgy for the youth/adults/whoever that use their space!

If you have a suggestion for a place I should look into donating a copy of Roving Pack to (or if you wanted to financially contribute to the donating of copies) please leave me a comment here, or you can email me directly at sassafraslowrey@gmail.com  I really want to make sure that these donated copies get into as many hands as possible, especially those folks who don’t readily have access to these kinds of stories. I never let go of knowing what a book like this would have mean to me and my friends….