Jan 302013
 

The life of an author is incredibly glamorous. The night before the annual Rainbow Book List- created by the American Library Association to honor recommended LGBTQ books for youth had released I was cleaning up puke and diarrhea from my very old and incredibly beloved little dog (who may or may not be the visual inspiration for the dog on the cover of Roving Pack). I was up again with him at 4am  and so was somewhat groggy when morning actually came and I turned on my computer. I had to rub my eyes a few times when I saw that the annual Rainbow Book List was up….and Roving Pack was on it.

When I first saw the list was up, I was sure that my book wouldn’t be on it.  I say that not out of some kind of self-deprecating lack of confidence in myself, or my writing, but simply because of what sort of list it is, and what kind of book Roving Pack became. Very early in the writing process I was told Roving Pack would not a book for youth. As I was writing I thought a lot about the kind of books I so desperately needed as a queer youth struggling with homelessness, community, gender, and creating family etc. Staying present in that space I endeavored in part, to write the book I would have wanted and needed then. At the same time, I understood that the rules that govern appropriate content for YA fiction and knew they likely could not be bent enough to include a book like this… until they were.

When I was approaching publishers I didn’t pitch Roving Pack as a YA book – both because I wanted to market Roving Pack to an adult readership, and in part because its content especially around gender and leather is more than a little edgy. Thus perhaps you can imagine my surprise when about 5 months ago I was notified that Roving Pack had been nominated by a librarian, for inclusion on The Rainbow Book List. Even as I sent off the requested number of books to the review, I was certain it was for nothing. I think I’m still in shock that we made the list.

A couple of years ago Sherman Alexi wrote an essay Why The Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood and I found myself so drawn to as I was working on finishing Roving Pack. I was thinking a lot at that time about the need for tender brutality in the story, and how important that gritty palpable pain was to the characters I was writing into being, and how important it was to me too. My favorite line from his essay was:

“I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed.”

Goddamn if that line didn’t slay me. I write because I have to because there are stories that won’t let me do anything but write them. But I also write in an attempt at creating the books I needed when I was a messy youth trying to make sense of myself and the world I found myself in. it’s fucking hard to be a youth. Roving Pack isn’t a sweet community of age book– it’s brutal and raw, and everything I remember about being a teenager. I write raw and dirty stories with messy protagonists, because that’s the reality of the worlds that raised me up. Youth don’t need us as queer adults, as queer authors to sugar coat the brutality of the world that they try to survive in. Never once have I told a youth “it gets better.” That now popular line makes me think back to being a seventeen-year-old homeless queer teenager who on top of loosing my family was verbally and physical assaulted in my high school on a regular basis. It was the “It will get better once you graduate’ messages that made me want to kill myself. I was working on trying to figure out how I was going to get through that day, then I would go to sleep, wake up and try to figure out how I was going to get through the next day. Tell me that months, or years down the line ‘it would get better’ hit every one of my bullshit detectors. For me, and every other queer kid I knew, seeing that far into the future was a privilege we didn’t have.

I would never call myself a YA author in that I don’t write only for youth, however as I write it is my hope that somehow something I write will help hope is that somehow something I write will help at least one queer youth or adult to feel less alone.   I write the stories that I needed, the stories that reflect the worlds that as a youth I called home. Me and my people, weren’t clean, polite, or pretty to look at and * that’s * the world I want to bring to life on the page.

When the news hit yesterday that Roving Pack had made the rainbow book list an old friend (who I’ve known since I was a teenager) shared the exciting news in her facebook and said:

“I can’t imagine how different things might have been if a book like Roving Pack had been in my HS’ library… I wish we could send copies back to younger selves and be like “there will even be literature that is both recognized AND honest about all of this”
Roving Pack is my gift back. A kind of memorial to a gutter punk queer youth world that in some way comes live every time someone opens one of its 358 pages. When I was in high school started my high schools first GSA and was threatened with violence daily in the halls of my hs. I was kicked out of home; I lost my family and community and read a hidden battered copy of Am I Blue? hiding it under my mattress and them shoved it into my backpack when I left home that final time. That book was important to me simply because it existed and was the first time I’d seen anything “gay” in print, but still I couldn’t see myself or the queer world I was starting to find  in those pages. Kicked Out and now Roving Pack are my attempt at giving back- to reflect the world I knew in hopes that somehow these stories get into the hands of folks who need them most.

Three days after I was kicked out I went to my public library looking at every book shelved under “homosexual ” looking for advice on how to live through the experience of loosing home/family/everything in order to be queer. I didn’t find the answers I was looking for, what I left that day with was a commitment to make those answers for those that would follow. To have Roving Pack appear on the Rainbow Book list means so much to me in part because I know that it will help it get onto the shelves of libraries and somewhere someone

 

Jan 282013
 

I’m working on a more indepth blog post talking about what this honor means to me, but I couldn’t help but share the news with all of you now.  This morning I got the news that Roving Pack has been included in the American Library Association’s Rainbow Book List!!! This is a list created annually, that puts forth what the committee suggests as the best LGBTQ books for youth! I am overjoyed and incredibly honored that Roving Pack made this list- and thrilled that it will help get this novel into the hands of more people!

Check out the full list here

Jan 282013
 

Kicked Out will always be my first baby – it’s the book that I cut my teeth on, it will always be the first book that I pushed out into the world. Beyond that it became something so much bigger than me, truly a community project. I wake up everyday and am so grateful that I had the opportunity to help bring this book to life.

This is one of my favorite times of year – royalties time. One of the things that I remain the most proud of about Kicked Out is the way that I was able to work with the books publisher to ensure that all the contributors receive a share of the royalties. The reality is that books don’t make anyone a lot of money, but it’s never been about financial return for me, or any of the contributors. My excitement about the Kicked Out contributors being paid isn’t because I think the small checks are making a dramatic difference in their financial security, but because it’s a symbol of their ownership of this project.

The power of Kicked Out has nothing to do with the awards and honors it has received. Kicked Out is a book that readers have written me letters saying they carried with them as they ran away from abusive parents, it is a book that has helped formerly homeless youth who have hidden their past feel seen for the first time, and it has begun a now international community dialogue about the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness.

This year royalty time also brings an unrelated and exciting announcement. Kicked Out is now available for purchase in Amazon Kindle edition! I am thrilled because although I’m a dinosaur and prefer my books in print form, I know that for many kindle is the most accessible (for many reasons) way to read a book. My hope is that Kicked Out being available in this new format will ensure it gets into even more hands who can learn, grow, or be healed through its pages! Please load Kicked Out on your kindle and then help spread the word about the new format, and about the anthology itself. If you’ve read Kicked Out please consider leaving a review on amazon or good reads – support from readers makes a HUGE difference to small press titles like Kicked Out and help us to get it into the hands of more readers.

Jan 252013
 

One of the things I am most excited about this spring is having the chance to not only attend but actually be part of the programming at the 10th Annual Saints and Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival!  I’ve heard incredible things about Saints and Sinners for yaears and am thrilled to have the opportunity to go down to New Orleans this year.  At the festival I’ll be reading from Roving Pack and speaking about the power of anthologies to provide a space for marginalized queer voices to be heard.  While at the conference I’m also getting the chance to participate in two different master classes – one by Justin Toreres and another by one of the authors who has most influenced me both personally and as a writer – Dorothy Allison!

I sat down with the folks of Saints and Sinners festival to talk about Roving Pack, writing advice, the transformative power of storytelling, and the books that have most inspired me.  Click here to check out the interview! 

Jan 182013
 

I’ve been a little bit quiet here in the blog world since the beginning of the year but I’ve definitely been keeping busy.  Over at the blog for Leather Ever After I’ve been posting interviews with the contributors – there’s a new one going up every few days so you should be sure to check it out! The anthology brings together some brilliant contributors and in the interviews you’ll get to see what they have to say about a variety of topics from writing to inspiration and of course fairy tales. Leather Ever After has been such a fun anthology to put together and really is with some of my favorite kink writers I’m excited to be able to bring you more of them on the blog! If you’re a blogger and interested in reviewing the book please please get in touch with me and I can get a review copy emailed off to you ASAP!

Last night I got home to a box and knew immediately what it was – BOOKS!!!!  Leather Ever After books to be precise. There really is nothing at all in the world like holding your own book for the very first time! Leather Ever After really is here and out in the world. The ebook is for sale on amazon kindle and from the publisher in every format imaginable, and now is also available in print. It’s really unreal to me how this book came to be (I talk a bit about the magic of that in the introduction – so I won’t give too much away). We’ll be having a big bash for the book here in NYC on Feburary 13th at Bluestockings Books featuring readings from – Mollena Williams, Lee Harrington, Karen Taylor, and the amazing Laura Antoniou who wrote our forward will be part of the evening as well!!!!

 

Last weekend we went on what is probably my dream vacation – a trip to Disney World!   We flew home early on Tuesday morning and since getting back to New York I’ve been working to bring together the words to talk about not only how magical and special the trip was but also what it meant to me on the deepest levels. Being in Disney World really was everything the little boy like me could possibly want. I knew that we were going to have fun, but I had no idea that being in the Magic Kingdom would feel so well…. Magical and intense. There was a way in which I feel like I was able to be more of my(little)self outwardly and openly in the world than I normally get to experience which on top of all the magic that is Disney in general really sent me over the top and into a whole different rhelm. I want to do more writing about the experience of being there once I’m through the #DisneyDrop

 

I was realizing yesterday that Roving Pack has been out in the world for over four months now! Its been humbling and amazing to watch it go out into the world. I truly feel that Roving Pack is the best thing that I have ever written, and I’m thrilled to see the community connecting with it. An announcement that came right at the very very end of 2012 (and so I think a few people might have understandably missed it) is that Roving Pack now available as an ebook! I had many readers excitedly awaiting that so I was thrilled to make that happen. You can of course also get your very own copy of the print edition signed, dedicated, and sent directly to you!

A little plea for support: If you already have a copy and read it, please consider taking a few minutes and writing a review of it on amazon or goodreads, or you own blog if you’re a blogger!  This kind of support makes a HUGE difference to indie authors like me and can really help to get our books into peoples hands who might not otherwise have known about it. I’m always telling my author buddies (and anyone else who will listen) that I’ve truly been blessed to have the very best readers in the world – you guys are the reason I’m able to do this work, and I’m so grateful to everyone whose ever read my stories.

This week I’ve been making some pretty solid process on my new novel, Lost Boi – a queer gutterpunk retelling of Peter Pan. I’m working my way through fun and gritty chapter outlines at the moment, LONG. WAY. TO. GO.  But it feels really good to be writing on this scale again. Lost Boi is really feeling like the right big project to sink my teeth into after Roving Pack.

 

Jan 162013
 

Order Leather Ever After Today! 

Now available as print and ebook! 

check it out! Leather Ever After is now available as a print book for all of us who prefer our books paper! In Leather Ever After, celebrated queer author Sassafras Lowrey brings together some of the most beloved leather writers in an enchanting collection published by Ravenous Romance with a foreword by Laura Antoniou!

  The kinkiest writers in the land were summoned to pervert your favorite fairy tales with stories of dominance, submission, bondage and surrender. In these stories twisted princesses take control of submissive princes, witches play with power and fairy tales come to life in our homes and dungeons…

Leather Ever AfterCover

Jan 082013
 

One of my biggest goals with all of my books is to get them into the hands of the folks who most need the stories.  I talk to homeless queer youth everyday, but this summer right as I was finalizing the proofs for Roving Pack I had an experience that really haunted me: “I’ve lost my pack, trying to build a new one” said the cardboard sign with jagged sharpie handwriting. Next to the sign sitting on a Manhattan Street was a young trans kid, a sweet pitbull puppy resting its head on their lap. More than anything I wanted to give this kid a copy of Roving Pack — which at its core is all about the packs/families we build.

Shaken by how close to home this experience hit to me and this book, and how I hoped that one day I would be in a position to give my books to everyone who needed these stories. I wrote about it on my facebook and twitter and was shocked (am still shocked) when not long after I received an incredibly generous gift from a reader – a check to cover the costs of me donating several copies of Roving Pack to people who need the stories but wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a copy. I broke into tears when I opened the mail to that check. I’m humbled and honored by the way the community has backed this novel. For someone to make it possible for me to have the  opportunity to donate copies of Roving Pack means so much to me.

After much thought I have made a decision to gift these copies to community centers/groups in order to increase the number of people who will have access to the stories. This is where you come in! I’m looking for suggestions of community groups you are involved with or know wouldn’t be able to afford to include Roving Pack  in their library AND most importantly won’t be scared away by the somewhat edgy content of the novel. The last thing I want is for the book to get left on a staff person’s desk because it’s seen as inappropriate (this is something I will obviously be verifying before sending).  Feel free to comment here – or email me directly at sassafraslowrey@gmail.com with suggestions for  where I should send books (no NYC suggestions please). I have 8 more copies to give away—tell me where they should go!!!!

Jan 052013
 

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this blog post is via Tricky Tails where most of my dog focused blogging is moving

I hadn’t realized that January was ‘National Train Your Dog Month’ but evidently it is, and that feels pretty darned fitting, especially as I have ben pretty clear about how in 2013 I was hopefully going to involve more intentional dog work. I’m thrilled to be able to say that one week into the year, my goals for the year are already materializing!

I’ve been working more intentionally around trick training with Charlotte- as I’ve been talking about all over my social networking, and of course was a big part of starting the blog.  This first weekend of 2013 I’m spending a lot of time at home with the pups relaxing and Charlotte has been learning some new tricks (more on that in another post). Connected to that, something I’ve been a little bit less public about is that I’ve been investigating doing more training beyond work with our dogs. I’ve been out of the dog world for a long time, was convinced everyone would think I’d lost my mind — but much to my amazement everyone who matters in my life has been nothing but supportive, and thanks to some community connections really exciting things happened.

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The amazing Holly Hughes and I met a few years ago when she was in NYC performing her “The Dog and Pony Show” which amongst other things is about dog agility.  I couldn’t resist showing her my agility tattoo in the theater lobby, and after teh show went home and wrote her about how much it had meant to me to see a famously out queer person doing dog sports- and how unimaginable that had seemed would ever be the case when I as ababy dyke dog agility competitor lost my dogs, home, community for coming out in that world.  Holly and I had lunch together a few days later, talked dogs and then kept in touch via facebook.

In late December I very quietly began reaching out to dog people I knew to see if anyone had a contact in NYC that might be willing to let me shadow them and get my feet wet in the training world. Much to my complete shock a couple of weeks ago, knowing my desires around training Holly connected me with her friend Frankie Joiris who is literally a world class dog trainer and who happens to teach pet level agility classes one day a week here in NYC.

Honestly the whole thing sounded to good to be true, except it wasn’t. this is a real opportunity, and one I’m so grateful to take advantage of.  I was utterly in shock when Frankie emailed me back and gave me the opportunity to come observe her class this week, with the intention of if I liked it that I could return weekly to assist!  On Wednesday night I met Frankie and a couple of her dogs (including her sinfully cute 8 week old Border Collie puppy!)  and for the first time in over a decade was in an agility class. I’ll admit that walking to meet her I was more than a little bit nervous. I didn’t know what it would be like to be back in that world, to talk about Snickers and Flash (my dogs that I lost) and who I used to be, the life as a dog trainer that I had dreamed I would have as an adult. There was a little place in the back of my mind that worried that it was silly to try to get back into dogs in this new way (I don’t have an interest in competing, instead I’m interested in lower stakes games between people and their dogs). My fears were unfounded. The minute I got to the space and met Frankie and helped her to set up the equipment and watching her work with the dog/handler teams – I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else, and I can’t wait until I get to go back next week.

2013 is a big year for me for a lot of non-dog reasons- coming off the release of my novel and an anthology releasing this month, and starting writing on my new novel- but it’s also big for me with dogs. I can’t put words to how gratifying it is to play and work with the dogs we share our home with, and now feel like I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to recapture some stolen dreams, and transform them into something that fits into the magical life I’ve been lucky enough to build. My hope is that this path I’m walking will give me the  chance in the longterm to share my love of dogs and passion for helping people have more fun and a better relationship with their dogs.

Jan 032013
 

Leather Ever AfterCoverOnce upon a time, in a dungeon far, far away the kinkiest writers in the land were summoned to pervert beloved fairy tales with tales of dominance, submission, bondage and surrender. In these stories twisted princesses take control of submissive princes, witches play with power and fairy tales come to life in our homes and dungeons…

In Leather Ever After, celebrated queer author Sassafras Lowrey brings together some of the most beloved leather writers in an enchanting collection published by Ravenous Romance with a foreword by Laura Antoniou!  Leather Ever After is currently available as an ebook, with print books to be released February 2013. Learn more about about Leather Ever After at www.LeatherEverAfter.wordpress.com and to get more information about Sassafras and hir work visit www.SassafrasLowrey.com

Table of Contents:

Foreword- Laura Antoniou

Introduction – Sassafras Lowrey

Each Step For Him – Lee Harrington
Blue Beards Ghost – Ariel Dalziel
House of Sweets – Miss Lola Sunshine
The Suitor – Miel Rose
Hair Like Gold – Nalu Kalani
The Mistress and the Pea – Cynthia Hamilton
The Red Shoes – Hosha
The Seven Swan Princes– DL King
The Good Witch – Ali Oh
Snow Fight – Rob Rosen
Down Under – Raven Kaldera
Golden Twink and the Three Bears – Elizabeth “Jake” Hart
Iron Henry – Karen Taylor
The Wolf and little red – Alysia Angel
Not Enough Storms – Goldie Dartmouth
Cinderfella – Sossity Chiricuzio
Lady Leporine – Mollena Williams
The Little Boot Black – Sassafras Lowrey