Apr 242013
 

Literally the biggest thing that could happen to my writing career just happened. Lambda Literary named me a winner of the Berzon Emerging Writer Award!!!!!!!

lambda logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 24, 2013 

 

Contact: Tony Valenzuela, Executive Director (323) 366-2104

tvalenzuela@lambdaliterary.org

  

Nicola Griffith and Trebor Healey named 

Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize Winners

Sassafras Lowrey and Carter Sickels named

Berzon Emerging Writer Award Winners

 

Los Angeles, CA – The Lambda Literary Foundation, the nation’s leading national nonprofit organization promoting LGBT literature and writers, is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2013 James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize and the Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award.  This year the Mid-Career Prize recognizes Nicola Griffith and Trebor Healey; the Emerging Writer Award recognizes Sassafras Lowrey and Carter Sickels.

 

The judges for the Mid-Career Prize were author and collections manager Jim Van Buskirk and co-owner of the St. Louis based Left Bank Books Kris Kleindienst.  Commenting on the 2013 prize recipients, they stated, ”Trebor Healey and Nicola Griffith are both writers who are unafraid to take risks in their writing, stretching the strictures of genre to ask bigger questions.  They use the lens of their LGBT experience as a prism through which universal themes of love, society, and the meaning of life are refracted, disassembled and reassembled in ways that are at once challenging and rewarding to the reader.  Their work deepens and enriches the tapestry of LGBT literature: worthy of a place in the modern canon of English literature while expanding the notions of what LGBT literature can be.”

 

The judges for the Emerging Writer Award were author Noel Alumit and co-owner of the Atlanta based Charis Books Sara Luce Look.  In choosing Sassafras Lowrey and Carter Sickels for this year’s awards, they commented, “Both of these novelists are well on their way to promising careers and truly represent the future of LGBTQ literature. While very different, their works both explore the fluidity of gender and sexuality, as well as issues of community, intimacy, and queer identity.Lowrey challenged us to revisit pronouns, the status quo and LGBT life.  Hir work deserves further investigation.  Sickels is exploring masculinity from a trans man’s point of view.  This kind of exploration is what makes queer letters exciting and interesting.  Beyond being emerging writers they are also committed to sharing their experiences, as writers and transgender people, with the next generation of queer writers, young and old.”

The Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize, made possible by James Duggins, PhD, consists of two cash prizes of $5000. To qualify, recipients must have published at least three novels or two novels and substantial additional literary work such as poetry, short stories, or essays.

The Emerging Writer Award, made possible by former LLF Board Member, Teresa DeCrescenzo, and named after her late partner, the renowned author and psychotherapist, Dr. Betty Berzon, consists of two cash prizes of $1000.  To qualify, recipients must have published up to 2 books or 1 book and additional literary work such as short stories, essays or journalistic articles.

 

The awards will be handed out on June 3, 2013 at the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards ceremony in New York City.

 

“The judges made excellent choices from among a field of strong candidates,” said LLF Board President, Dr. Judith Markowitz,  “The writing of both Nicola and Trebor pushes readers to leave our assumptions behind so that we might feel, think, and imagine in new ways.”  She continued, ”Sassafras and Carter are truly exciting new writers who are pushing the boundaries of queer literature.”

 

To learn more about the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize visit website.

To learn more about the Emerging Writers Award visit website.

 

 

2013 Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize Winners

 

Nicola Griffith
Nicola Griffith (photo: Jennifer Durham)

Nicola Griffith is a novelist living in Seattle (dual US/UK citizen). Author of Hild(forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, November 2013), five other novels, and a multi-mediamemoir. Co-editor of the Bending the Landscape series. Essayist.TeacherBlogger. Winner of the Nebula, Tiptree, World Fantasy, and six Lambda Literary Awards (among others). Partner of writer Kelley Eskridge (and co-owner of

Sterling Editing). Currently lost in the 7th century (working on the follow-up to Hild) but emerges to drink just the right amount of beer and take enormous delight in everything.

 

Trebor Healey
Trebor Healey
Recipient of the 2004 Ferro-Grumley and Violet Quill awards for his first novel, Through It Came Bright Colors,Trebor Healey is also the author ofFaun and A Horse Named Sorrow (a finalist for this year’s Lambda Literary and Ferro-Grumley Fiction Awards), as well as a collection of poems, Sweet Son of Pan, and a short story collection, A Perfect Scar & Other Stories.  He co-edited (with Marci Blackman) Beyond Definition: New Writing from Gay and Lesbian San Francisco, and co-edited (with Amie M. Evans) Queer & Catholic. He lives in Los Angeles.

 

 

2013 Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award Winners

Sassafras Lowrey
Sassafras Lowrey (photo: Syd London)

 

Sassafras Lowrey got hir start writing as a punk zinester in Portland, Oregon. Ze is the editor of the two time American Library Association honored & Lambda Literary Finalist Kicked Out anthology, and Leather Ever After. Hir debut novel Roving Pack was honored by the American Library Association and chronicles the underground lives of gender-radical queer youth searching for identity, community, and belonging. Sassafras has contributed to numerous anthologies and publications, and ze believes storytelling is essential in the creation of social change. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with hir partner, two dogs of dramatically different sizes, and two bossy cats.

Carter Sickels
Carter Sickels

 

Carter Sickels is the author of the novel The Evening Hour (Bloomsbury USA), a Finalist for the 2013 Oregon Book Award, the Lambda Literary Debut Fiction Award, and the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Debut Fiction Award. Carter is the recipient of a 2013 artistic grant from Oregon’s Regional Arts & Culture Council, and scholarships and fellowships to the Hambidge Center, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the MacDowell Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He is currently Visiting Faculty for West Virginia Wesleyan ‘s Low Res MFA Program. Carter lives in Portland, Oregon.

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LLF Logo 2011_prelim

 

The Lambda Literary Foundation nurtures, celebrates, and preserves LGBT literature through programs that honor excellence, promote visibility and encourage development of emerging writers. LLF’s programs include: the Lambda Literary Awards, the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices, LGBT Writers in Schools, and our web magazine, The Lambda Literary Review, at www.LambdaLiterary.org. For more information call (323) 366-2104or e-mail admin@lambdaliterary.org.

Apr 172013
 

I see a lot of posts online in communities, on Facebook and in writers magazines talking about how people struggle to make time to write – about how someday they will have a life configured into xyz way that will enable them to adopt some perfect writing practice where they will – write for 6 hours a day, or do morning writes, or any number of other configurations that they have decided/been told is the right way to write, the most productive way to write, the way to write  that will  yield magical results- like a manuscript or a book deal. I think there are some people that need this kind of writing practice, but realistically most of us will never have a life that looks that way.

Above the desk in my home office (which as an aside is lovely and set up to be an idealistic writing environment, but not somewhere I’ve actually done a whole lot of writing) is this picture. It’s one of the most inspiring messages to me as a writer- I don’t know who the artist is (if you do, please tell me so I can credit them) and I found it years ago but keep there hanging above my desk so I see it when I unplug my charging iPad, or grab a spiral full of notes for a new project, or pack boxes of my books for an event I see it.

I know that because on facebook and twitter I only talk about my writing some people don’t realize that writing isn’t my only job. I believe it’s important to be real and transparent about what my life looks like. I have a day job, it’s a very high stress, high-pressure nonprofit management position it’s an important job, I’ve worked very hard to have it- but it does not define me. Intentionally I don’t talk about it a lot online because it isn’t my career, writing is. ::points to the image at the left:: I work two jobs.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of privileging whatever it is that we do that pays our bills, to say this job is what I am – but in relief the vast majority of us work two jobs. We do the job that pays the bills, and we do the job that feeds our soul. I’m am author even though I’m lucky if my royalty checks cover a dinner out. Being a writer is my job even though it isn’t what pays my mortgage. I remember seeing this drawing right around the time that Kicked Out released, and it shook me up. The first time I saw it, I realized that at events or out in the world I was discrediting myself, and my work by talking about the job that paid my bills instead of saying what I actually am in the world, an author.  Try it- the next time your introducing yourself to someone at a bar or a show or whatever, and the inevitable question of “what do you do?” comes up, try answering with: I’m a painter, or I’m a performance artist, or I’m a writer, or whatever it is that you actually are.

Try leading with that front and center and see how it feels.  It’s hard and will take some adjustment not to default to answering with whatever it is that paid for you to buy cat food this morning. I know when I first started saying I was an author it was before Kicked Out, had released and I would blush and get all embarrassed like I was an imposter, but slowly over time the more times I said it, easier it became, and most importantly, the more that I believed it.
It sounds silly and woo-woo but I really believe that belief in this being who you are is critical. I’m not saying that’s all of it, we can sit and believe in ourselves and never actually write a word and that isn’t going to translate into being a widely read author, also there’s no denying that the publishing industry is fickle. It’s a huge amount of dumb luck that got me to where I am today, BUT I think belief plays a role too. When I believed that I was an author, I started to give myself permission to see that as work. Writing became a priority, it became valued and put in the time to send stories to calls for submission, to write query letters to publishers, to blog, or simply just to write the stories that came to me. The more I wrote the better writer I became, the more I stopped sounding like how other people wanted me to write, or how I thought my writing should sound – the more I wrote, the more I was able to  develop my own voice and find my niche.

Very few of us will ever be fortunate enough to have the ability to create the perfect writers life where we spend hours a day pouring over our craft in an ideal setting with no other responsibilities. I like having health insurance, food in the fridge, and knowing how I’ll pay next months bills. As such, I have accepted that a day job will probably be a very real part of my life for the foreseeable future.  It’s a choice, I know people that make different ones, but it’s one that I’ve found peace with.  Just because writing isn’t what gives me financial stability, doesn’t mean being an author isn’t my carrer, it simply means I work two jobs.

Unlike my day job with a set schedule that’s given to me, I have had to find a way to take initiative and create my own writing work schedule. It’s been trial and error, first attempts looked like attempting things I’d read on blogs or in “how-to” writing books, and while I would keep the schedule for a little while it never really stuck.  It wasn’t until I gave myself permission to try something less structured that I was able to come up with a work schedule that for lack of a better word, worked!

I get a LOT of questions from people asking about my process: when I write, for how long, what programs do I use when I’m writing, or to organize projects etc.  To some extent I hesitate to talk too much about my own practice, not because it’s secret, but because the last thing I want to do is contribute to anyone thinking there is a “right” way to make the time for writing. That said, my own schedule differs from a lot of what I see being discussed in the literary world, and there is something to be said for offering multiple perspectives.

I work a slightly odd schedule (12-8 most days) and so I have my mornings to myself- sometimes I spend that time writing, more often it’s spent at the park with my dogs which relaxes me, calms me and makes me a better writer. The vast majority of my writing is done in transit, to and from my day job.  In fact, most of this blog was written on the subway on my way home last night.  Roving Pack was mostly written on my iphone in transit on the subway, and while on tour with Kicked Out.  Last summer I splurged and got an iPad, which for me has been a fantastic investment because of where/when I write (and because I adjust quickly to touch screen typing). Definitely in nonprofits taking a lunch break is not the norm, and I’m not always successful but I do try to get out of the office for a few minutes, usually to my favorite secret hideout the bubble teashop and knock out some text.

I identify as someone who dates my art, and think of writing not only as my career, but also in some ways consider my books to be lovers that I am in relationships with. I value what I love, and I make time for my relationships.  I take my books on little lunch dates, and it makes a tremendous difference in my productivity. Even if I only spent 15 or 20 minutes writing it changes my whole day – I’m able to focus better on everything, and it keeps the creative juices flowing and ready for my commute home where one of the ways I’m able to unwind from my day is to sink into my work. It’s grounding for me to remember who I am, and the work that I know I’m supposed to be doing in the world.  Of course, it’s imperfect, just last week I was writing a particularly sweet and brutal scene in my new novel Lost Boiand I was at my subway stop, and then again working through a tricky character moment and I had to go back to the day job and run a meeting. In both those instances I wanted to stay with my work, and couldn’t. I quickly thumbed some notes in my phone to remind myself where I was taking the story, and went about my day.  Was it frustrating?  Absolutely, but for me, it was also significantly better than not having spent the previous 15 minutes writing in the first place.

I don’t have all the answers. Ultimately everyone works differently and you have to figure out a writing plan that works for you and fits into your life. Try different things, mix it up, try something you’re sure won’t work – you might surprise yourself. Ultimately,  the one thing I do know, is that no one is going to give you the time to write, you have to take however and whenever you can. You have stories that deserve to be in the world, and only you can write them.

Apr 162013
 

As most of you know my relationship to Leather, and the leather community is really important to me, and has become a more promenant part of my writing in recent years.  I’m thrilled to announce that I’m partnering with Leatherati to write a recular column called “A Little This, A Little That” focused on Littles and Little community!

The first column was just posted this week, and the direction it takes is very much up to the community!  Check it out and comment to the blog letting me know what sorts of things you’d like to see me write about!

 

Apr 102013
 
The Spring/Summer of Make/Shift magaxine is hitting news stands which is always exciting, but extra so this year for me because it includes a review of Roving Pack!!!!!
When you get your copy check out pg 50-51 to see the amazingly wonderful things the magazine felt about the novel. Here’s a little sneak peek:

“The descriptions of peer pressure,policing around transitioning, and social isolation were particularly terrifying ot read because they are absolutely true, and rarely articulated in such a vulnerable way. The last page of the book made the entire book dangerously relevant and especially necessary to read.”

It’s so amazing to read reviews of the book where it’s clear that the reviewer connected to the story and got the deeper themes embedded within the tangled story lines. As always the mafazine features lots if really important and interesting articles, analyses so support independent media and pick up your own copy!

TRANS 100

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Apr 092013
 


I’m so honored that to be included on the 2013  inaugural Trans 100 !  The list was released as part of a kickoff event in Chicago on March 31st as part of the International Transgender Day of Visibility, but just went live online this morning! Over 500 trans people were nominated for inclusion and committees worked to compile the 100 list.

I’m beyond thrilled to be included on the list, to have my  writing, and the work it’s done in the world is being seen as worthy of inclusion. On a personal level too, there is a feeling of amazement and gratitude that my gender f*cked self has a place here on this list. I  remember when I quit shooting testosterone, when I embraced femme as a gender identity, I was intensely worried that I would no longer be seen as being valid, or real within trans community, even though that has always been core to how I see myself……. I’m very grateful to see that hasn’t been the case.

There are incredible activists, organizers, artists and community members included on the Trans 100 list and I’m so excited to be included along with them!

 

check out the full list here at Buzz Feed   

Apr 052013
 
It’s a little hard to believe that six months ago Roving Pack released- it’s been quite a wild ride and those few months have passed really quickly. It seems like only a few weeks ago my living room was filled with piles of books, envelopes and one inch buttons as I sent out all the pre-ordered copies of the book, or packing as many copies as could fit into my suitcases for the huge European tour/release of the novel. The ways in which communities have responded to Roving Pack has truly been a shock to me. Just about every week I’ve received letters from readers talking about how they have connected to the novel, and what it has meant to them on a personal level.  Readers have told me that for the first time they have been able to see themselves and their world reflected back to them on the page, readers have called it their stone butch blues, used excerpts in collaring ceremonies, had crushes on characters, and utilized the book to start conversations with their partner(s), friends and communities.  

 

A couple of weeks ago I got a bit of an unusual reader letter from someone who struggled to connect to the novel. They wrote about how they had been really excited to pre order a copy and then when they started reading they found the novel off putting, challenging and frustrating. The reader spoke about how they waited to see others in the community having similar responses and how confused they were when Roving Pack began receiving so many positive reviews and feedback from within the community. The letter was really nuanced and the reader talked about how in the months since the release they had finally understood Roving Pack and wanted to share the process with them. They wrote about having most personally identified with the GSA kids/high school students that are privately background characters disliked by the main pack. They wrote about how Roving Pack had really challenged them to reevaluate privileges and in the end came away from a private reexamination of the novel recognizing that it’s strengths were about the underground communities it most deeply speaks to, the ways in which they were able to better understand people in their community who felt solace and connection to the book, and what that means/how they had come to see that as being important, even if on first read the content and style – which are native tongue to some of us (though not this reader) at first felt off-putting.

 

I think that the most incredible gift a reader can give to an author is to find connection with a book, and to share a glimpse into what that connection feels like. Honestly, I can’t believe how intensely incredible Roving Packs readers have been. When I began working on Roving Pack I knew it was a niche market book, a dangerous, messy book that might not win awards, but regardless needed to be written. I just had no way of knowing how many people who hungered for these themes and stories to come to life on the page.

 

It’s humbling and incredible to witness some of these conversations, and to be lucky enough to have readers who at times invite me into their conversation as they think about the themes and characters of Roving Pack. Beyond thrilling was to see Roving Pack get listed as a top book for LGBTQ youth by the American Library Association and to see in black/white the way that has translated into the novel appearing on the shelves in libraries around the country, where I hope the folks who need this book will be able to connect to it.

 

Whenever I sit down to write, I always think about he kinds of books that I needed, the kind of books that I still want.  Those are the stories I try to write. Now with Roving Pack fully birthed into the world I have begun working on my next novel Lost Boi (more on it, and the writing process in future blog posts).  However, Roving Pack is still newly born and I don’t want to neglect it in anyway.  Right now I’m preparing to get back on the road a little bit this spring. I haven’t toured since we got back from Europe, and prior to that I’d been in serious writing mode for the last year and a half and not really touring.  This month I’ll be at the University of Florida – Tallahassee and then doing a reading with the incredible Amber Dawn here in NYC called “How Storytelling Saved our Lives.”   After that I’ll be home for a few weeks, delivering the keynote via SKYPE for the Oregon Queer Youth Summit, and then hitting the road again for New Orleans to be part of the 10th annual Saints & Sinners Literary Festival. I’m thrilled to be part of the programming, and beside myself with excitement to have the chance to take a master class with one of my greatest literary inspirations: Dorothy Allison!   I’m really excited to be getting back out into communities – meeting new queers and getting the chance to learn about the incredible work/art/activism they are doing, and to find the beautiful places where our lives/stories/work intersect.

 

This was a novel that had me in a chokehold and refused to let me go until it was written and out in the world.  It was such a shift from my previous work and I was very cautiously concerned to see how people would respond to these new themes and textures, both in terms of literary style, as well as content of my work. I’m so grateful for my literary support networks that encouraged me to edge play with writing Roving Pack, and not worry about what might be controversial theme.  It’s been both thrilling, and creatively inspiring to realize that it was exactly those same things I was worried about which resulted in Roving Pack being a book that so many readers have had highly intense and personal relationships to. It’s been a wild ride these past six months; I can’t wait to continue sharing Roving Pack with communities around the world, and to be part of the conversations it continues to ignite…..