sassafras

Nov 102017
 

I was interviewed on this week’s episode of This Show Is So Gay! It was loads of fun talking about queer books, writing! Click here to listen to the episode online or be directed to download options  xoxoxo

 

October!

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Nov 032017
 

October came and went – I can’t believe it’s already November! October was a really busy month for me – I traveled to Utica New York to read from Lost Boi and to talk about writing with students on the Utica College campus. I had a really great time and it was a fun way to get back into touring (I haven’t done much book traveling since touring with Lost Boi when it released in 2014) and to remember that while I don’t love being away from home, I do really adore the opportunity to connect with readers and writers out in the world

Autumn  is one of my favorite times of year – and thankfully the weather in brooklyn has started to cool down. October was a busy month of seasonal outings: apple picking, and pumpkin patch, and corn maze, and to an exhibit of 5000 carved pumpkins in the shapes of dinosaurs, and I even got to go to Disneyland in California and see all the amazing halloween decorations! I dressed up as Winnie the Pooh, and the dogs dressed up as cute Brooklyn wildlife! I also have been receiving awesome pictures of readers cosplaying as Pan for Halloween!!!! If you follow me on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter you’ve already seen a lot of those pictures — please friend me!

I was in California last week giving a keynote at the EDGY conference for LGBTQ youth and families in LA. I had never been to the EDGY conference before and had an absolutely amazing time. My keynote “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30 (even me): LGBTQ Youth Homelessness and Programs that Work) talked about being a runaway, what queer culture and community has meant to me, the first representations I saw of runaways, and a little bit of what I’ve learned over the years about nonprofits and LGBTQ homeless youth. I had an incredible time at the conference, my keynote was very well received and most fun of all were the conversations  I got to have with so many queer runaways (both current youth, and staff of various service provider organizations). The theme of this years conference was “Embracing Identities” and I feel so privileged  that I got to spend the day with so many awesome LGBTQ folks!

 

Silly Updates:

I have been waiting for the release of the My Little Pony movie for basically a year – I got to go and see it opening weekend, but was SUPER disappointed in the movie. I felt like it just didn’t capture anything about what is so fun and magical about those little ponies!  I did however read the newly released chapter book “Ponyville Mysteries: Riddle of the Rusty Horseshoe” which where we see a little bit about Scootaloo’s ( my favorites of the youngest ponies) family life – she lives with her lesbian aunts! Queer content in official pony canon!

 

Reading:

I’m still keeping up with my GoodReads goal of reading a book a week! I read 5 books in the month of October and the best book I read this month has to be Sherman Alexie’s new memoir “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.”  this book was heartbreaking and gorgeous and really just the book that I need to read this month on so many levels. If you haven’t read it yet I definitely recommend it. I also read the first book in the ‘Ever After High’ series and am newly obsessed! As you probably know I love basically all things fairy tales and this series has surprised me by how clever it is in the retellings! Really looking forward to reading more of these books!

Writing:

I did a lot of writing this month – articles on Dogster about everything from: canine flu, crate training, and kennel cough, to my monthly pet column at Curve magazine with my favorite ideas for feminist dog costumes!


I’m still waiting on news about the future of my next novel ‘Foam’ but also got really inspired to get to work on a big new nonfiction book – thanks to a really exciting meeting with a publisher here in NYC. Hopefully I’ll have more news about that, and the re-release of ‘Leather Ever After’ soon!

Now that Halloween is over Christmas is really just right around the corner! If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for a special someone, your roommate, or that cutie you keep flirting with on instagram consider the gift of books, queer books!  Last year I released my first holiday novella ‘A Little Queermas Carol’  – this story is a retelling was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist – I hope you’ll like it! You can order signed print copies & ebooks here

xoxo

Sassafras

Sep 292017
 
After a summer of not being the best at keeping my blog updated i’m hoping ot get back to my monthly blog post! As usual I’m best at keeping things updated on my social media pages: facebook/twitter/tumblr/instagram but I will try to keep things more active here!
September went by so quickly! Idid a lot of writing, and a lot of playing. Kestryl and I took the dogs on our annual  gaycation to Ptown! Ptown is one of my favorite places in the entire world, and being there for a week with my family is one of the highlights of my year. It was extra fun this year because it was baby Sirius’ first time traveling and her first visit to Ptown! She did great and we all had an amazing time!
 
I’ve finished the manuscript for my next novel ‘Foam’ and have my ::fingers crossed:: for some news about its fate later this fall! In the meantime I briefly toyed wtih the idea of challenging myself to do a 90 day novel writing challenge – but I decided that wasn’t a very realistic goal with everything else on my plate righ tnow.
I’ve been doing lots of writing for Dogster and my monthly Curve column – follow me on social media for updates and links to all the articles I’m working on!
Sassafras On Tour!
I will be doing a couple of trips this fall, actualy both in October!
Utica College:
Wednesday October 4th I will be at Utica College in Utica, New York. I’ll be featured at The Professor Harry F. and Mary Ruth Jackson Lunch Hour Series reading from ‘Lost Boi’ and talking with students!
EDGY National Conference
Friday, October 27th I’m giong to be in Los Angeles giving the keynote at this year’s EDGY conference speaking to youth workers and social ervice providers about “embracing identities” and working with LGBTQ youth! In the LA area? registration is still open!
AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship Program:
 
This autumn I’m keeping busy as one of the Mentors in the AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship Program! It’s a really fun, dynamic  program and I’m super thrilled/honored to be part of it alongside such incredible mentors! My mentee is Chelsea Catherine . We are already having a great time talking about queer writing, goal setting, publishing goals, and that’s just our first module!! She and I will be working closely together in this AWP program for the next three months!
What I’m Reading: 
Still trign to keep up with my book a week reading goals! Follow me on goodreads for an updated list of what I’ve been reading but my favorite books I read this month is probably a tie between “Brown Girl Dreaming” (I have no idea how it took me so long to read this book #embarassing) and “The Enchanted” which was nothing like I expected but pretty incredible.
Dogs!
I’m keeping busy with all things dogs as much as I can! Beyond writing a number of dog lifestyle, health adn trainign focused pieces for pet publications I’m keeping busy wtih my own dogs.  Charlotte earned her Advanced Trick Dog Title over the summer, and Sirius earned her Intermediate Trick Dog Title.   Sirius and I are continuing to train in the sport of Rally obedience and are having lots of fun being back at our weekly class.  I’m also back to assisting at Agility classes!
 
pssssssssst i’m going back to school! 
 
Soooooo I’ve been keeping a secret – a kinda big one. I’ve applied to Grad School and been accepted! Beginning in January I”m going to be entering the Goddard College MFA program  focusing on Fiction.  I’ve said a lot of critical things about MFA programs over the years, and I defintiely don’t think that you need an MFA to be a successful writer, my literary career is certainly proof of that. BUT there are some doors that having a terminal degree can open for me – and I’m ready and excited to step through those doors and start this new chapter that I hope will let me fulfill some goals  of mine.  The program is low residency so I have to go to “bording school ” a week out of every semester. I haven’t been in school in ten years! I’m super nervous, and super excited!
October!
October is the start of one of my most favorite times of year the season of seasons! I’m counting down the days until I can cover our house in Halloween decorations!!!! I can’t wait for all things halloween – especially pumpkins! We have a house for the first time this year so we’re going to get to CARVE actual pumpkins! I cannot wait! I’m also sneaking a quick one day trip to Disneyland while i’m in LA! I’ve never seen Disney do Halloween but i’ve heard it’s super cute!
Also the My Little Pony movie releases this month! So excited to see the ponies on the big screen!
Hopefully somewhere in between all the holiday fun, touring I’ll do some writing. I knwo for sure I’ll have some more dog articles coming your way, and I’m thinking about trying to do some moer short story writing while I’m between big projects.

.Rainbow Awards! ‘A Little Queermas Carol’ is nominated for a Rainbow Award! That means it’s also entered for the cover art contest too! Please vote for the amazing art by KD Diamond!  it’s waaaaaaaaay far down on the voting page of covers you MUST MUST MUST vote for three different covers to make your vote count VOTE!
BIG REVEAL!!! LEATHER EVER AFTER COMING BACK IN PRINT!!!!!! 
I am beyond thrilled to be able to announce that my anthology Leather Ever After is coming BACK INTO PRINT! this time Leather Ever After will be published by the one and only Circlet Press! Circlet publishes some of the best books in BDSM fiction and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work with them to not only bring Leather Ever After back into print, but to fix all the layout, typo, and design problems that the first publisher created.
Circlet is currently running a kickstarter to fund their 2018 titles, including Leather Ever After! Please help them to get this book back in print! 
 xoxo

Updates!

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Sep 062017
 

I’ve gotten behind on my posting this summer, but I haven’t been slacking in the writing department! I’ve finished revisions on  my next novel Foam and have started to query it. I’ve also been writing a lot of articles, and thinking a lot about my future writing goals, and sustainability of the kind of writing I want to do.

I’ve been selected to be a mentor in the AWP writer to writer program this fall so expect updates about that! Next month i’ll be on the road to Utica College in upstate New York, and then to Los Angeles to give the Keynote at the EDGY conference for providers working with LGBTQ youth!

I’ve been keeping up with my book a week reading – check out what I’ve been reading by friending me on Goodreads.com

I have of course still been actively posting micro-blogs and updates daily on my social media: facebook/twitter/tumblr/instagram! follow me there (you’ll also get to see lots of pictures of my adorable dogs)!

Jul 072017
 

It’s no secret I love social media – and defying all logic, my favorite of the social media platforms has always been facebook.  I had been seeing friends post about new policies where Facebook was blocking people or pulling content that used the word “dyke” as reclaimed and empowering identity language. I continued posting on my facebook like normal, and woke up this morning to discover that not only had a post I’d made yesterday sharing the newest Dykes To Watch Out For classic lesbian comic had been pulled for “violating community standards” but my profile had also been put on a 24 hour hold, and I’ve been reminded/threatened that repeat “offenses” could get my profile deleted.

Because there has been doubt that this is happening, I took screenshots:

 

 


Jun 062017
 

Yikes ! It’s already June! May was a very busy month for me! If you follow me on social media you know that I have been writing a new novel for the better part of the last year. I had mapped out a writing schedule that would have me finish my first draft in mid September. Things were going really well with that writing schedule, they went so well that I actually blew past all my deadlines and finished my first complete draft in may! The novel’s (working) title is “Foam” and it’s all about: starting over, failure, loss, mermaids, systems, queerness, and discovery. I’m really excited with how it’s coming together. When i  finish a first draft there is huge weight that lifts off my shoulders, there is one beautiful moment where i can hold onto the idea of what that. Ok will become and everything feels quite real….. though now comes the hard work of rewriting! I hope to finish that by mid-Summer!

Started the month reading at the NYC finalist reading with ‘A Little Queermas Carol.’  I’m so thrilled this novella is a FINALIST, and it was so much fun to get the chance to read alongside so many fantastic local authors whose books are finalists this year as well. 

In May I turned 33 (don’t worry, I’m also still  just a big 5 year old)! I had a Steven universe themed birthday party in the middle of a huge rainstorm! Are you watching Steven universe? I had a few friends over, and we did party crafts and ate an awesome multi-layer cake my partner baked! I also made a permanent commitment to my love of my little pony- with this tattoo !

photo right after the artist finished - so it's super raw and swollen

photo right after the artist finished – so it’s super raw and swollen

I had articles appear this month in

BlogPaws

the Bark

Dogster

Curve

Cosmonauts Avenue

In May I got the chance to have dinner with the scoring author Jenni Fagan who was visiting NYC! She’s doing a lot of work right now exploring truth telling, and we had some great conversations over plates of vegetarian food in the west village. We’ve known each other on Twitter and have read each other’s novels, it was such a treat to connect with another gritt lit author.

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My puppy Sirius is getting huge. She’s learning lots of things- going on lots of adventure and at 19 weeks old earned her novice trick dog title! Training dogs is my oldest passions I’m not brilliant at it but I love it. Looking forward to talking more classes with her.

I did pretty well on my book a week reading goal in May. My favorite book that I read last month was “the Education Of Will” – it’s a great memoir of a dog trainer whose work I’ve really admired for years. Friend me on goodreads! I’m always looking for new books to read https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/7295681

After some medical scares with my special little old man, the whole pack is doing really well, and my youngest baby dog  at just 19 weeks old earned her Novice Trick Dog Title! I”m really looking forward to lots of adventures with my pups! 18425244_10211833367565780_6063886484864933653_n

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Looking Ahead to June:

Hoping to have more articles published, and have been throwing a lot of literary spaghetti at metaphorical walls! I’m  booking some out of town/touring events for the fall/for next year. I intentionally  haven’t toured on the last couple of years, but I’m opening up again to it which feels good

The Lambda Literary Awards are only a week away!!!! These awards really are one of the highlights of my year! I adore the ceremony and the chance to be in a room that is all together to celebrate queer books!!!! 

p.s. I LOVE connecting with readers, and I now have a PO Box! Reader letters are one of the highlights of my week! I got a lot of amazing letters in the month of may! What to write me?  Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 8.50.11 PM

April!

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Apr 302017
 

I can’t believe that April is already over! It was a quick month for me – that of course included Easter – one of my favorite holidays. It was the first holiday my family spent in our new house, and contrary to my worries, the Easter Bunny had no problem finding us! 17952925_10211556445282896_7586546313444033969_n

This month I wrote my regular column at Curve Magazine, a story about giant dogs for Dogester and then a featured piece on Huffington Post about being a Queer Little! I was anxious about that story- and it did generate a fair amount of hateful comments, including some trolls coming to visit my twitter account. THAT SAID writing this little piece felt really important to me to help raise awareness and dispel myths about littles and Big/little Caregiver/little BDSM/leather dynamics. Trolls aside I’ve gotten wonderful sweet letters/messages/comments from littles who felt embarrassed about their identities,  or who are closeted – hearing that my article helped them to feel a little less alone made all the hateful comments worth it!

SassafrasThis month I found my dress for the Lambda Literary Awards in June. I’m super excited that A Little Queermas Carol is a Finalist. Of all my books, this is probably the least read one it’s such a niche of a niche of a niche book – but I love the way that i’ve been able to connect to a very special core readership for me.  I’m obviously excited to see how this book will do in the awards, but I”m also really trying to  focus on writing this new novel. I just finished a draft of chapter 23, I’ve got another 11 go go. I”m writing about a chapter a week at this point – and have been for a couple of months now. I’m enjoying this novel a lot, and in

april I feel like I really hit my stride with the book where Im really connecting to the characters, and they are connecting to me.18121440_10211626217307153_6774510955749098295_o

A lot of my time in April has been wrapped up in socializing and training and loving on our new giant puppy Sirius. She’s now 4 months old, graduated from puppy school, learned a whole collection of tricks, and just having a great time learning and growing – oh boy is she growing!!! I love how she has fit into our pack, and how much fun she and Charlotte have together every day! April’s weather has started warming up here in Brooklyn, and that’s meant a lot of time in our backyard – i’m pretty convinced all i want to do this summer is finish writing my new novel while hanging out in a sundress, in my backyard with my dogs in our baby pool, eating my partner’s awesome veggie fake meat BBQ! 

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Favorite thing i watched this month: Steven Universe – I’m newly obsessed, completely obsessed. Have you watched it yet??? It’s ridiculously queer and so many important lessons and engaging stories. I also was excited that season 7 of My Little Pony started!

Favorite thing I read this month: I’m still keeping up with my book a week reading schedule – and two of the books this month were AMAZING.  “Love Is Love: a comic book anthology to benefit the survivors of the Orlando Pulse shooting” edited by Marc Andreyko and “The Sunlight Pilgrims” by Jenni Fagan were not only the best books I read this year, but also the best books I’ve read this year so far. Friend me on goodreads so you can follow along with what i’m reading – and so you can see what i’m reading!

May!
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May is my birthday! I’ll be turning 33 which is exciting and strange and amazing all at once. I’ll be reading at the NYC Lambda Literary Awards Finalist Reading on May 4th (this Thursday!) if you’re local to NYC I hope you’ll come out to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art to celebrate the local NYC finalists!  https://www.facebook.com/events/600696180065455/ I also have some staycations planned from my muggle job- I’m looking forward to adventures with my partner and our dogs, little projects around the house, and hopefully a lot of writing!

Apr 012017
 

Whoa! Busy busy month! Biggest news of all which if you follow my social media pages you’ve been inundated with — my partner and I brought home a new baby-a Newfoundland puppy named Sirius! The whole family is smitten with her, and she’s definitely been keeping us BUSY this month as we adjust to new (puppy) parent life. Sleep? What’s that?!

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I did jokingly say in an email with my publisher that the new (reduced) sleep schedule is giving me lots of time to write! I got quite a lot of writing done this month. A couple of different articles for Dogster, an article for the bark, and my curve magazine column. I also managed a short story submission to an anthology, and have been holding steady with my writing goals on the new novel. My writing goal is to finish a (draft) chapter a week- which if I stay on target will mean i’ll easily finish this early draft of the novel before the end of the year!

I read several books in march which I chronicled on goodreads as usual and as you’ll see I didn’t LOVE any of them. At least with reading a book a week there are always more books to read, and even books I don’t love, or even like, there is usually something that I can take with me from the book.

This month I also officials made the difficult decision that Leather Ever After will at this time remain out of print. When its publisher Ravenous Romance decided to drop the title (without notice) back in December I immediately started talking to other erotica publishers to see who might be interested in acquiring the title. The amazing news was that there WAS interest, the challenge for me was having to really examine how much attention I was going to be able to give to this project. The anthology is amazing, and contains some of my favorite writers in the kink/leather world — yet the thought of putting in the work necessary to get the book back into print which would mean a full editorial overhaul because of editing issues the first time the book was published was daunting for me. As a full-time writer, with a full-time stressful muggle job, a family, and only 24 hours in the day  a not insignificant significant number of which I need to spend sleeping there just didn’t feel like a reasonable way to make this book happen. The hardest part was telling the contributors, all writers whose work I love that I was going to shelve the book. Leather Ever After has in many ways always been a little “unloved” amongst my books, if I’m being honest I never promoted it well, and I was dreading the reality of needing to start prioritizing it. This has NOTHING to do with the amazing writers who shared their passions, kinks, and talent in its pages. Something interesting for me in this process that really became clear is that you can’t make yourself love a book-as much as you might feel a responsibility to it.

The real issue for me came down to that (and I feel like such a bad leather queer saying this) I don’t really like erotica. I don’t read it, and I don’t enjoy writing it. It’s not that I’m a prude, and it isn’t even (I don’t think — and i’ve spent a lot of time examining this) about my being asexual-ish identified. I think when I said on social media that my literary passions just didn’t include erotica people were concerned I was changing what I was writing more broadly which just isn’t the case at all. I’m deeply committed to writing queer fiction with solidly leather themes – I just don’t want to write about sex or erotica. I’m interested in writing about queer families, queer relationships and dynamics and less about the sexual application that may or may not be taking place, or if I’m going to write a sex scene in a novel or story then I want it to be intentionally a part of the plot, as apposed to sex for the sake of arousing the reader (not that there is anything wrong with that-, just not what i’m interested in doing!) Does any of this make sense? I hope so. Sometimes I feel the more I write, the more I understand my own literary style the more of a niche niche niche writer I feel – but so long as readers tell me they like what I’m doing, and as long as I love the stories I’m writing I’m going to assume that I’m on the right track

Speaking of…. The BIG literary news in March for me was that A Little Queermas Carol was named a 17308809_10211240860993486_2174869918662583801_nLambda Literary Award FINALIST! The novella is up in the category of Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror – it’s a big category with some really incredible books – including my good friend Michael Thomas Ford’s “Lilly.”  I wrote A little Queermas Carol very much with the mindset that this novella was that it was a book I was writing for a very specific niche of my readers-not for publishers, not for judges. This is a book that is in and of itself a niche within a niche within a niche. It’s a novella, a christmas book, a queer book, a leather book, and a book centering ageplayers/littles. When the list of Lambda Finalists were announced, I was SHOCKED to see this book on the list. I actually think it’s one of the strongest things I’ve ever written, but I didn’t know if folks outside of this little niche community would read it – I AM SO EXCITED THAT I WAS WRONG!

The Lammy’s (this year: June 12th in NYC) are one of my favorite times of the year — it’s a whole exciting event that is organized around celebrating the best of queer books!!! What more could I want?!  I just ordered my dress, and regardless of what book wins, being a finalist is  TREMENDOUS honor and I can’t wait to go celebrate all the books!

April is going to bring a lot more puppy adventures for my family, and hopefully a lot of writing. I’ve been updating my weekly writing progress on Facebook every Sunday which is a fun way to help hold myself accountable to keeping up with the writing that I want to be doing, especially now that I’m serious about trying to finish this new novel.

Mar 142017
 

17308809_10211240860993486_2174869918662583801_nhere is a “blizzard” in NYC today, there is a new puppy in my family, AND this morning I got the news that my novella “A Little Queermas Carol” was named a Lambda Literary Award FINALIST for the SF/Fantasy/Horror category!!!!!!!!!  This little book really was a labor of love, it’s a book whose audience is in some ways a niche of a niche. As  a queer/leather/little writer it feels amazing to have this book recognized as a finalist for the Lammys!

All of this year’s finalists are fantastic! I’m so honored to be in such incredible company!

 

I didn’t actually post a February update blog #oops I’ve been doing lots of micro blogging on facebook/twitter/instagram/tumblr  including a weekly writing update for what i’ve been working on with my newest novel that just reached 20k words, articles that get published etc. It’s been a fun way to be transparent about what I’m working on

SiriusI’ve also been posting TONS of pictures of this new muffin – an 11 week old Newfoundland puppy that joined our family last week. Our whole family is smitten with her – and she’s keeping us super busy! My social media pages are FILLED with even more cute animal pictures than normal

xoxoxo

Feb 112017
 

#AWP17

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Wow – so I’m on an Amtrak train right now heading home to NYC from DC and the 50th annual AWP. This was my first time attending AWP and I had a lot of concerns going into the conference about how well I would (or wouldn’t ) fit in but I was on a fantastic panel “Bringing LGBTQ Folk Forms Into Our Literature” with Tom Cho and Michelle Tea, Derrick Austin, and Adam Atkinson— so really how could I say no?! Our panel was fantastic – people were standing along all the walls, sitting on the floor wherever they could fit, I wish I had taken a picture to send to AWP since they put us in such a TINY room (evidently there is a history of this happening to queer panels).

I’ve never been to this big of a writing conference before. It was pretty awesome and overwhelming sO ultimately – I’m REALLY REALLY GLAD that I went. I feel like I learned a lot from the experience, had the chance to connect with queer authors I adore and almost never get the chance to see including my fantastic publisher Arsenal Pulp Press, met new writers who I found commonalities with – many of whom I’m now connected to on twitter/facebook/instagram/tumbr, and got to connect with some wonderful wonderful readers!  I also took a field trip to the national zoo to meet baby pandas (something I talked to basically everyone about all weekend).Will I go back? Maybe? I’m not sure – it’s EXPENSIVE and I didn’t fall in love the same way I did when I attended Saints  & Sinners the first time but this was a very fun experience  all (self doubt about how “literary” I am aside) it very much felt like getting the chance to play with the big kids. I’m sure that I will have LOTS of thoughts as I digest the experiences of the past few days but for now I did want to share the text of the paper I read

<3 <3 <3

In Zines I Trust: Queer Zines as the Foundation of my Literary Work

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I want to start by thanking QZAP the Queer Zine Archive Project for their amazing work cataloging and preserving queer zines, and providing me with most of the images in this power point which gives texture to zines as an art form.

I discovered zines- self produced publications, often photocopied utilizing mixed media pairing written word with cut/paste imagery  about two days before I wrote my first zine- which to me is one of the most beautiful parts zine writing -you simply are able to join in.  The first zine that I was part of writing was created by the Rural Oregon Queer Youth support group I was active in my senior year in high school. The story that I wrote was about kraft macaroni and cheese (my favorite food) and about coming out, being beaten by my mother and running away from home. Zines were the first place that I saw stories like mine reflected back at me- stories  of the kind of queerness: chosen family, kink, and gender fluidity that was flourishing in the youth centers I found and built family in. Zine culture, as I found it was filled with weirdos who were not waiting for an invitation to the literary party -they were telling their stories in all their messy, sometimes misspelled glory, and I wanted in.

 

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Zines were my literary foundation -I like to say that I have an MFA in zines. I don’t actually have an MFA though for a while, every couple of years I would panic, think I needed one, apply to grad school, get accepted and then turn them down . I am not traditionally trained as a writer, and have resisted all pressures to seek out that formal training. When I started out, my writing circle was made up of other homeless youth, survivors, and runaways. We wrote our stories for one another creating work by and for our little broken queer community – we showed each other our scars on photocopied pages, hosted zine releases in punk house basements and feminist bookstores – naming our truths, our secrets, our passions, our fears, and our dreams. I am the kind of author I am today because my writing was incubated in zine culture.

when I started writing Zines gave me control over the the way that stories were told, queer 2002lives/bodies/relationships could be presented without being sanitized. Zines are an ethic, and an aesthetic of truth telling without censorship- naming that the red editorial pen so often becomes a gatekeeper for marginalized voices. In zine community I found other gender freak weirdo writers who were doing gender our own ways. zines by their very nature gave space for fluidity, exploration and ownership over the process

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 3.02.13 PMA few years ago I was on tour at a college with my first novel I was talking with some students who told me how they were looking forward to finishing their graduate program so that they would be qualified to begin submitting poems and stories to anthologies. I was shocked. I had at time been published in dozens of anthologies- thanks to coming of age in zine community and it had never occurred to me that I needed a piece paper to tell me I was qualified to put writing out into the world. in zine publishing – you’re a writer if you say you are and the ethics of everyone has a story worth telling is empowering for young writers, especially marginalized voices.

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Zines and other independently published materials are  also deeply rooted in otherness and resistance. Through their photocopied pages, queer activist zinesters have mobilized, organized and empowered generations of queers around issues ranging from HIV/AIDS, to homonormativity, and feminism.This felt particularly salient for me in the early 2000’s Bush era, in a state that faced anti LGBTQ balot initatives, and it feels increasingly relevant today, as we all grapple with what it means to be queer authors in our current political climate. In so many ways zines continue to remind me that this is work that we know how to do.


In 2010 I made a jump into traditional publishing. I felt a little like a sellout but I had realized I wanted something different, not better, just different for my writing. My main reason for shifting my identity from a zinester to an author was about the reach and ready accessibility of my stories.  I wanted lonely queer kids in rural towns of be able to order my books on amazon (even though it’s evil) and for queer folks to be able to find my books on the shelves of their local library. Although I was committed to increasing access to my writing, i wasn’t interested in sacrificing the queerness of  the content in order to do that.

 

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My first book was an anthology titled Kicked Out. As an editor  I was committed to including the voices of currently homeless youth who might not be in positions to participate in an editorial process so I searched until I found a publisher ready to make that commitment with me. honestly I don’t think i knew how big my ask was. One of my favorite stories that we ultimately published really exemplifies why this was important to me and how it could contribute to queening language. The story was written in text speak and street slang. The author Etern!ty (with an exclamation point) was a young, black, homeless trans woman. she  submitted her story in 39 separate text messages that she wrote on her flip phone- when you had to hit the number five three times to get the letter L – remember those?

 

The aesthetics of zines have always attracted me, there  is something about the minimal or in some cases lack of editing that brings a sense of rawness to the text of zines that I’m really inspired by. I’ve certainly learned to appreciate a good edit when writing but I try to keep a raggedness to my text, and try to not overwork my writing.  the biggest compliment that i can get from a reader is to hear that for the first time they feel like someone has created queer characters that look and sound like them, there loved ones, play partners, friends, community etc. For me this is an ethic that comes  directly from queer zines- it’s about taking our stories and putting them onto the page unsanitized and untranslated. I’m not going to define for you want it means to be in a 24/7 Daddy/boy dynamic, or what the hanky code is, or what harry benjamin standard of care are and why they were oppressive to genderqueer folks. My readers knows this kind of insider terminology, and everyone else, has google.

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A foundation in zines gave me the confidence to build a literary career centering queerness and not feeling like I had any obligation  to submit to the wills of an editor if I didn’t agree with them. For example when my (now out of print) bdsm fairy tale anthology Leather Ever After was in production, I almost walked away from the book deal because the publisher decided they didn’t want to print gender neutral pronouns in stories (as authors had written them) because it might confuse or alienate straight readers…. I was reminded of this when a webmaster at this conference changed my pronoun from “ ze “ to “he” in my published bio for this panel without my knowledge. Thankfully  in response to some Twitter based pressure and support from the LGBT caucus,  AWP apologized and rectified the situation. In both these scenarios I “won,” but in part that was because I was both willing to to do some education about why they were wrong, but also I was totally prepared to pick up my book and go home. I have found as a queer author that when I  decide to play in mainstream literary worlds i need to be prepared  for this. the foundation i gained from years of writing zines, and having queer identities and pronouns normalized in those spaces  gave me the framework  to unapologetically expect this kind of representation everywhere.


Because I was a zinester,  my writing philosophy is very much  if they won’t publish it I will – and I’ll win awards.  My writing queers genres particularly in that as a leather person my fiction  often centers queer BDSM relationships and dynamics while not being erotica. I made the decision to self publish my first novel Roving Pack in part because publishers were concerned the content was too edgy. I then had no problem finding a home for my second novel in a traditional small press. My background as a zinester meant I knew that there was an audience for my work and so I wasn’t willing to accept “no” from publishers who thought I needed to “tone down” the leather- instead I was able to show the existence of that readership and  find the right literary home for my writing. My most recent novel Lost Boi – a queer/punk/leather retelling of Peter Pan  released from Arsenal Pulp Press in 2015 very much sits at  the intersection of my literary experience – keeping all of the queer kinky content, while  being able to have all the benefits of traditional publishing which meant wide distribution across North America and beyond.

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 3.02.34 PMComing  from zine community and with books spanning both the traditional publishing and self publishing worlds-three books out from small presses, and two self published,  I hope that my work is able to break down some of the divisiveness between the self publishing and traditional publishing worlds. So often I’ve found zines and other forms of self publishing  are seen as being for writers not “good enough” to get a book deal- which  is not at all my experience. Ultimately there are benefits and challenges of both styles of publishing.  There are amazing benefits of traditional publishing but there are also tremendous drawbacks. In a world where Simon and Schuster is offering a  $250k advance to a transphobic gay white supremacist, as a queer author I have to ask myself if that’s even the kind of publishing world that I would even want to play in.

For me, writing queer books for queer readers is about building our worlds on the page – it’s about connecting to readers by writing our queer lives/families/relationships the way we have lived them. In this changing and terrifying political climate for queer writers – zine writing as a folk art form, and self publishing continues to be a relevant and important medium that can give us the opportunity to break down the barrier between the writer and the reader, to connect, mobilize and inspire.