Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

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Something witchy this way comes! This Saturday, April 29, Western Washington University will host its first Queer Con in Bellingham, Washington. My time-off has already been spoken for, so I won’t be able to attend. In lieu of gorging myself on panels and queer comics, I curled up with Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology. Collection editor Joamette Gil will be one of the event guests.

This collection is another powerful testament to community funded campaigns. Last year, the folks behind Power & Magic Press set about making this book a reality. Thanks to its success, you can now buy a print or digital copy. Fifteen black & white short stories reflect the creative contributions of seventeen women, demigirls, and bigender people of color. A handful of stories also have content warnings in the table of contents (ToC). It’s impossible for me to claim favorites; this magical gathering is all-around amazing.

“Her Gift” by Coco Candelario, reminds me of Kiki’s Delivery Service in both spirit and style. April, spunky delivery witch, is in love with her best friend, Pam, a baker with no magical powers (not in the traditional sense, anyways; her family confections are scrumdiddlyumptious!). They live in a world of “Gifted” = witches and “Ungifted” = non-magical folks. It’s an adorable, endearing story about love and friendship.

Veronica Agarwal’s “Fluid” follows Ramona/Ramon as they navigate a world in which limitations and expectations are assigned based on gender, much like our own (“Boys can’t be witches!”). The story shows affirmation and support coming when you least expect it (and need it most). “Fluid” is accompanied by a content warning in the ToC: Gender questioning, misgendering.

Imagine, if you will, a life in which you wake up every morning in a different place and time. Welcome to “The Shop that Never Stays” by Gabrielle Robinson and Hannah Lazarte. After stumbling upon a magic shop with just the ingredients needed, our witch is tethered to it. Who know how many days, months, or even years, have passed. Until…one day… I’m one of many who get caught up in the rote of life, sometimes feeling like it won’t be any other way, until an experience or a person steps through the door and rocks life off it’s hinges.

 There are so many stories that I have not highlighted here, but only because I want you to experience it for yourself! If you happen to attend Queer Con at WWU, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology edited by Joamette Gil
Published by Power & Magic Press
Publication date: January 2017

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Categories: anthology, comics, fantasy, friendship, lgbt, romance | 1 Comment

2017 Goldie Awards’ finalists

The Golden Crown Literary Society announced finalists for its fiction and nonfiction 16 categories. GCLS will announce the winners sometime between July 5-9 at its annual conference. Since it’s still April, National Poetry Month, I’m featuring the poetry collections that have earned nominations. All of these poets and most of the publishers are new to me, so I’m pretty jazzed! They represent a range of experiences, styles, and themes.

Also: I’ve been looking for poetry collections by queer female-identified poets who grew up in and/or reside in rural areas of the Pacific Northwest. If you know of any, please let me know in the comments below.

Acquired Community by Jane Byers

Acquired Community by Jane Byers
Publisher: Dagger Editions, Caitlin Press
2016

“Jane Byers’ Acquired Community is both a collection of narrative poems about seminal moments in North American lesbian and gay history, mostly post-World War II, and a series of first person poems that act as a touchstone to compare the narrator’s coming out experience within the larger context of the gay liberation movement.” (via Jane Byers Poetry)


In and Out of Love

In and Out of Love by Shelley Thrasher
Publisher: Sapphire Books Publishing
2016

“Lammy-nominated novelist, editor, and college professor Shelley Thrasher, who grew up in a small, conservative town in East Texas, was a late bloomer. Her first published poetry collection, In and Out of Love, chronicles personal ups and downs during the 1980s and ’90s, when she came out. Most of these 150 brief, haiku-like poems feature images that speak for themselves, influenced by poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, with whom she studied writing.

The first poems portray the crushes and lovers the author was involved with during this period of her life. In part two, they express the longing for something she didn’t understand. Section three chronicles the painful rough spots she encountered during her journey of accepting herself as a lesbian. And the final section celebrates being in love with the woman she has now been joined with for twenty-five adventurous years.” (via Sapphire Books)


Night Ringing by Laura Foley

Night Ringing by Laura Foley
Publisher: Headmistress Press
January 2016

“Poet Laura Foley’s strong fifth collection, Night Ringing, ruminates on romance and family via autobiographical free verse.” (via LauraDaviesFoley.com)


Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes by Cheryl Dumesnil

Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes by Cheryl Dumesnil
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
November 2016

“The poems in Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes are survival songs, the tunes you whistle while walking through the Valley of Shadows, to keep your fears at bay and your spirit awake.” (via University of Pittsburgh)


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SPLIT by Denise Benavides
Publisher: Kórima Press
December 2016

“Denise Benavides’ debut collection Split  is a dedication to motherlessness and abandon—to a nightly killing and rebirths. At its worst, it is all teeth masticating through the body in an attempt to interrogate and cut out what no longer serves the Self. It is a collection not meant for the weak, but for those willing to walk through what haunts them the most.” (via Kórima Press)


The Body's Alphabet by Ann Tweedy

The Body’s Alphabet by Ann Tweedy
Publisher: Headmistress Press
2016

Katrina Vandenberg: “… This is a book about finding homes for ourselves—homes for our adult selves, even as complex memories of our childhood homes still live inside us; homes for our bodies; homes in the natural world. …” (via Headmistress Press)


The Off Season Jen Levitt

The Off-Season by Jen Levitt
Publisher: Four Way Books
2016

“The poems in The Off-Season are populated with things—‘90s TV shows, mix-tapes, crosstown buses, winter beaches—signifiers that trace a trajectory from girlhood to adulthood and bring to the surface feelings and desires that ordinarily stay hidden. We witness the strangeness of modern life, relive our own adolescent awkwardness and listen in on conversations with dead poets, TV characters, family members and intimates. With humor, fierceness and generosity, The Off-Season grapples with the question of how to be in the world.” (via Four Way Books)

Torn from the Ear of Night by Jimmie Margaret Gilliam

Torn from the Ear of Night by Jimmie Margaret Gilliam
Publisher: White Pine Press
2016

Joan Murray describes it as a “balance between the child’s immediacy of experience and the adult’s analytical recollection” set in the Appalachian hills. (via Goodreads)

Categories: awards, lgbt, poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

California Skies

California Skies

Even on vacation, I pack several books into my carry-on. While I never know what I’ll be in the mood for, I know I’ll feel restless enough to switch back and forth between every single story. Last week as I sat piggy in the middle on my flight from New Orleans back home, the windows obscured by bodies and blinds, I rummaged around for something short and entertaining. Postcards from the Edge written and narrated by Carrie Fisher, took me from NOLA to Denver. For the next part of my trip, I returned to a new favorite novelette, California Skies by Kayla Bashe.

California Skies is an exciting adventure featuring revenge, love, a badass bounty hunter, a woman on a mission, and a wild west posse. The curtains open on a battered, but not broken Maggie leaving the hospital. Bandits murdered her brother and leave her and her sister for dead, as they ravage the family’s land in search of its reputed treasure. To hell with everyone’s warnings, Maggie doesn’t give a damn about bounty hunter California Talbot’s reputation. All she knows is that Talbot was a wonderful childhood friend of both her and her brother. Vengeance has nothing to do with Maggie being a “nice girl”.

Author Kayla Bashe conjures up rough and tumble, adventure fun. Bashe creates a rich, full story in less than 12,000 words. With her precise pacing, she never lingers overlong on any one part of the tale. The titular character, California Talbot, defies those who would say that they are a “no good” bounty hunter. Despite appearances, Talbot is a complex character. They would give up their best pale blue calico garment if it meant helping orphans and widows. Maggie, for her part, is stronger than her imaginative nature might convey. She doesn’t so much need Talbot to act as a savior so much as she needs a partner. The two pair up to round-up and dispose of the vicious Chelson gang. Along the way, Maggie and Talbot discover they have a deeper connection.

I highly recommend California Talbot for anyone longing for a satisfiying, bite-sized ride in the old west featuring strong characters.

California Skies by Kayla Bashe
Published by Less Than Three Press
Publication date: January 2016
ISBN: 9781620046944  

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Categories: adventure, fiction, lgbt | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Poetry Month 2017

It’s that wonderful time of year when the literary spotlight shines on poetry! Happy National Poetry Month (NPM)! Throughout the month of April, I’ll highlight poetry collections. For most of my life I’ve said that I wasn’t a “poetry person”. I hadn’t felt a strong need for or connection with it. As a kid, though, I loved my grandfather’s well-worn copy of Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne and the humorous verse of Shel Silverstein.

Lately, however, events in my life have created an opening for the particular rhythms and voices reflected in poetry. I’m currently reading “When the Chant Comes” by Kay Ulanday Barrett. What about you?

Poem in Your Pocket Day is on Thursday, April 27!  Check out Poets.org for tons of good stuff, including “30 Ways to Celebrate“!

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2016

Other ways you can spiffy up your life with poetry:

  • Write a poem on a slip of paper & make a poet-tree (I put one up last year at work with a bowl of paper birds & leaves, plus twine, for people to write poems on.)
  • Sprinkle it into cards you give family, friends, coworkers, etc.
  • Get cozy with a volume from your local library or bookstore.
  • Seek it out on Tumblr & Twitter.

Short list of LGBTQ2IA poetry resources online:

Publishers & Associations (incomplete, please let me know who to add in the comments below)

Categories: poetry | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Women on Fire: Marie Equi & Mary MacLane

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, two American women challenged social norms and pushed themselves, and the world around them, to their limits. Mary MacLane, hailing from Butte, Montana, bucked convention for a shining moment in the sun, for a chance to live life as fast as she could instead of accepting a life that didn’t fit. Marie Equi always strove for the betterment of working class communities and advocated suffrage for women. She left high school to work in a textile mill, only to return to academia with a vengeance and graduate from medical school.

Both women seemed larger-than-life. And yet, despite the indelible impressions they left on their time and place, Marie and Mary all but disappeared from collective consciousness, even within their own lifetimes. Neither women expected to fade from the history pages they had helped write. Historian Michael Helquist drew from numerous resources to resurrect Equi’s life. Melville House reissued MacLane’s memoir through their Neversink Library (which follows the sentiment that when you have your best books by your side, you’re never alone and never totally bereft).

It’s the last day of Women’s History Month, but, as we all know, women are making history every minute of every day. Learning of LBGTQ2IA women in history is one of my passions and someday I will visit the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City. Also, check out the Gay Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest‘s website. Please share books by or about historical figures in the comment section below. I would love to add to my personal library!

 

Marie Equi was bold, brassy, smart, and driven by her social conscience. Born in 1872 in New Bedford, Massachussets, she grew up in a large, working-class Irish-Italian family. She was never one to let her social or economic circumstances (much less allow society to dictate to her based on her gender) keep her down or accept the status quo. The roller coaster of her life includes forays into homesteading near the Dalles in Oregon; treating San Francisco earthquakes victims in 1906; supporting striking laborers; and providing abortions. Not to mention her relationships with strong, community-minded women. 

Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions by Michael Helquist
Publisher: Oregon State University Press
Released: 2015
ISBN: 978-0-87071-595-2

Check your local public library for availability. I asked mine to purchase it and they did! Join the discussion on Goodreads.

wood floor

Mary MacLane was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on May 1, 1881. Growing up in small Minnesota and Montana towns, she yearned for adventure, unconventional thrills, and helter skelter big city pulsations. She wrote for her school newspaper, as well as kept a diary of her experiences and inner-life. Originally published by Herbert S. Stone & Company in 1902 as “The Story of Mary MacLane” (that title reflects a change from the author’s more fiery, intended title “I Await the Devil’s Coming”, as noted in the book’s 2013 foreword by Jessa Crispin). The memoir was lauded by critics and launched into bestseller status by a voracious public. MacLane’s conversational style and openness about most facets of her life connected with many readers. I can only imagine her Twitter feed and YouTube channel. 

I Await the Devil’s Coming by Mary MacLane
Published by Melville House
ISBN: 9781612191959
Publication date: March 2013

Check your local public library for availability. Join the discussion on Goodreads.

Categories: biography, history, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Audie Awards Finalist – Buffering

BUFFERING

 

On February 8th, 2017, the Audio Publishers Association announced the nominees of the 22nd annual Audie Awards nominees. 26 categories represent a range of non-fiction and fiction titles, single narrator and full cast productions, and the depth of talent nominated…well, it’s staggering. Bahni Turpin, Marc Thompson, Robin Miles, Juliet Stevenson, Cassandra Campbell, are but a few of the exemplary voices honored this year. They turn great stories into amazing stories. They are the kind of narrators that make you wish your commute was fifty hours long instead of fifty miles. 

Last November I reviewed Hannah Hart’s fully loaded memoir, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded. All of the ingredients that combined to bring her to your computer screen, between your ears, and into your kitchens, with the added magic that is Hart’s accessibility and vivacious personality, make for a great listen. Her memoir received a nomination in the “Autobiography/Memoir” category, along with four other books.

Around the Way Girl written and narrated by Taraji P. Henson

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart, narrated by Hannah Hart and Judy Young

The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham, narrated by Dion Graham

The Rainbow Comes and Goes written and narrated by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi; Foreword by Abraham Verghese, narrated by Sunil Malhotra and Cassandra Campbell

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
Hannah Hart
Narrators: Hannah Hart, Judy Young (Foreword)

Produced by HarperCollins
Length: 5 hours, 59 minutes
ISBN-10: 1441719202
ISBN-13: 978-1441719201
Released: October 2016

Categories: audiobooks, awards, essay, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kickstarter: Bingo Love

I stumbled upon Bingo Love: A Black Queer romance graphic novella, by Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge, Joy San, and Cardinal Rae, in the same way that most of my happy serendipitous encounters start: Twitter. Someone I follow happened to like one of Bingo Love‘s tweets, which then bumped it onto my feed. It was three days into their Kickstarter campaign. As soon as I pressed play on the promotional video, I became enamored of the star-crossed lovers’ tale. The two women first meet as teenagers at bingo hall in Paterson, New Jersey. Separated by forces outside their control, Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray meet again decades after first falling in love in 1963. Bingo Love has fantabulous illustrations! Every personality quirk and emotion is translated perfectly on the page. 

On the fifth day of the fund drive, the project reached its goal. Now they’re working on stretch goals through April 17th. You can learn more about that on their page. It’s amazing how quickly folks came together to support this project. Bingo Love is slated for release later this year.

Bingo Love

Jenn St-Onge’s cover

 

 

 

Categories: graphic novels, romance | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lambda Literary Awards 2017

 

The finalists for the 29th annual Lambda Literary awards were announced on March 14th. As always, I find myself perusing the nominees and ending up with plenty of great books to add to my TBR shelf on Goodreads. Below, you will find a handful of the contenders (plucked from Lambda Literary’s website, where you can find the full list). These are books that I read or listened to last year (or, in the case of Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry, finally got my hands on last night after two months of round-and-round mail service).

I’m always interested in how a committee selects finalists out of a huge pool of incredible voices. What mixture of style, substance, judges, awareness, etc, produces the award list? Of course, many books that we love and appreciate for a variety of reasons will never make an award list. I tend to view awards as more a tool to help build library collections or create a base from which to grow my awareness of the world around me. I’m so thankful for the wider world of LGBTQIA+ literature discussions. If not for folks on Twitter liking a kickstarter campaigns for incredibly cute graphic novels or sharing a resource; or Tumblr folks reblogging a booklist or poems, my world would be that much smaller. 

The winners will be announced on June 12, 2017 during the organizations gala event in New York City. Are there any books that you feel deserve that extra award bump? Please share then with me in the comments below!

***Click on the link (reviewed or blog) next to select titles for reviews I posted here and at The Lesbrary.***

Lesbian Fiction

Bisexual Fiction

Transgender Fiction

Lesbian Poetry

Transgender Poetry

Lesbian Mystery

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

Gay Memoir/Biography

Lesbian Romance

LGBTQ Anthology

LGBTQ Childrens/Young Adult

LGBTQ Graphic Novels

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The Roundabout – audiobook review

Image result for the roundabout audiobook

Leah Rollins rolls (yeah, I went there ^^) into town with the vague idea that she wants to start a business.What kind of business? Well, she hasn’t gotten that far, but at least she’s shed a tech career that no longer fits. Casting off from California, a small town in the Ozarks gives her a fresh start far from her known universe. As long as she can find bottles of her favorite California wines at the grocery store, she’s content. Megan Phenix and her older sister Nancy run a popular restaurant, The Phenix Grill. Eureka Springs being a pond with a limited selection of fish to choose from, Megan often finds herself the recipient of unwelcome advances from other women. After two relationships in which her girlfriends cheated on her, she’s more than happy to never date again. Yet, no matter how many times she tells women she is not interested, at all, they persist. “Oh, you’re just playing hard to get” they tell her.

When the two women first meet, Megan is running red from Mary Beth’s attempts to blackmail her into a date. The last thing she wants to deal with is the parking spots in front of the business next door. Leah treats Megan’s rage over the parking with a sort of bemused tolerance. The older woman seems like a solid oak tree weathering Megan’s tempest. However, both women share a desire to avoid dating. They soon devise a plan to faux date, hoping to lead women off their scent. The more they struggle to convince Mary Beth and the rest that they really are a couple, the more they learn about each other. Romance isn’t far behind.

Mary Beth drove me crazy (“crazy” being a very mild term for how I feel), especially whenever Nancy would brush off her sister’s irritation and concerns with an “Oh, she’s just playing around, don’t take it so seriously”. Some variation of this refrain was oft repeated by Nancy when Megan was struggling with her stalker/harasser. Everyone in town cackles and gapes over the photos of Megan that Mary Beth posts on Facebook. Photos that were taken of a woman undressed without her consent. Only an outsider, Leah, attempts to intervene. At least Megan never let Nancy talk her into accepting this outrageous behavior. Through to the very last second, Megan held everyone accountable. If this had not been the case, I would have been very disappointed. A small dating pool does not equal an “anything goes” environment, as far as toxic actions and comments go.

Thankfully, Gerri Hill creates a compelling, frustrating interplay that makes Megan and Leah’s dating charade convincing. I also enjoy how the characters examine their thoughts on age and their reasons for dating certain types of people. I love how Megan stood up for herself, even when everyone around her seemed to tell her that she deserved to be treated in a way counter to positive mental health. Leah’s character demonstrates how (when some folks might consider 51 “too old”) it’s never too late to shed what doesn’t work anymore for a newer, truer path. 

Nicol Zanzarella delivers an engrossing listening experience as she embodies the story through strong characterization. The emotional weight bore by the main characters reveals itself through her versatile narration. Leah’s voice reflects the strength and patience inherent in a person who truly knows who they are, no matter the situation or location. Zanzarella’s portrayal of Megan, on the other hand, conveys agitation and annoyance through quickened pace and a raised, insistent pitch. Mary Beth’s manipulative and infuriating behavior is enhanced two-fold. If I thought I couldn’t loathe her more, Zanzarella’s narration proves otherwise. The rest of the cast is similarly formed, attention paid to their individual quirks flavoring the identity of the small community. 

The Roundabout takes listeners on a satisfying, roundabout route to love and affirmation. It is an emotionally engaging story paired with fantastic narration. Gerri Hill is an author that I can pick up and know a satisfying literary experience awaits. Make sure to add this one to your TBR (TBL – listen) list today!

The Roundabout by Gerri Hill
Narrated by Nicol Zanzarella
Produced by Audible Studios
Length: 6 hours, 36 minutes
ASIN: B01MU81ZCG
Released: February 2017

Available as an audiobook from Amazon and Audible

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, fiction, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

LGBT Audiobooks 2016 Listen List

I’m just a tad late in posting all of the glorious audiobooks that I listened to in 2016 (though they did make it into my year-end-stravaganza posting). Compared with 2015, there was an aural explosion! I think this in part because I had more options as far as buying and borrowing audiobooks (Overdrive, OneClick Digital, Audible). I’ve also spent more time perusing audiobook reviews on sites such as AudioFile Magazine and participating in a fantastic Facebook group, Lesbian Audiobooks

Now when I find an interesting book, I ask myself “is there an audiobook version?” Publishers seem to produce more and more audiobook versions these days, as opposed to limiting the production to “big” names and blockbuster series. What a time to be a listener!

My taste in listening varies from one day to the next. Below you’ll find my moods and interests reflected in the covers below. I enjoy literary fiction, modern-day retellings of Shakespeare plays, memoirs, YA, fantasy adventure, contemporary romance, far-flung settings, and historical fiction.

However, if I don’t enjoy the narrator, no matter how good the storytelling, I stop listening. And that’s just me; other listeners might find the narrator is a great fit for their ears. Some new-to-me narrators that I really enjoyed in 2016 include Laural Merlington and Kate Rudd (The Language of Hoofbeats); Amielynn Abellera (As I Descended); Sarah Grace Wright (Fallen Elements); and Bahni Turpin (Here Comes the Sun). These narrators deliver immersive experiences with wonderful pacing, tone, and excellent characterization.

As for 2017? Well, I’ve already listened to a contemporary romance and a fantasy-adventure! My Audible wishlist is long and getting longer. What LGBT+ fiction and/or non-fiction audiobooks did you listen to last year?  

The book covers are linked to either a review I posted or to a related external site (like Overdrive, AudioFile, publishers, etc.).

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully LoadedSaving Montgomery SoleAs I DescendedHere Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-BennYou Know Me Well by David LevithanThe Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson CooperHit by a Farm by Catherine FriendThe Warrior's Path (When Women Were Warriors, #1)Being Jazz Audiobook2497445115726317327959Image result for if i was your girl audiobook207637391582434313587076937547633163705232513262325817288219421892292974125893681

Categories: audiobooks, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, mystery, nonfiction, paranormal, romance, suspense, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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