Book Buzz February 2009
Author: John Morgan Wilson
February 1, 2009
To celebrate its twentieth year in publishing, White Crane Institute has established the James White Poetry Prize for Gay Men’s Poetry, which will carry a $1,000 cash award and a publishing contract with White Crane Books. Mark Doty, a Lambda and a National Book Award winner, will be the prize judge. Look for the official announcement in the spring issue of Music & Poetry magazine.
Meanwhile, White Crane has an important new title in the works: the Radical Faerie Reader, edited by Don Kilhefner and Mark Thompson .
Nancy Garden’s award-winning YA novel, Annie on My Mind, is out on audio from the Random House Listening Library. The love story between two teenage girls was the subject of a much-publicized banning attempt when it was first published in 1982. After twenty-seven years, it’s still in print.
The 2009 Alice B. Readers’ Appreciation Awards for lesbian fiction have just been announced: Gun Brooke, Jane Fletcher, Nicola Griffith, and Lesléa Newman.
Ginn Hale has won the Spectrum Award for best novel, 2008, in the science fiction/fantasy/horror category for Wicked Gentlemen (Blind Eye Books), which was also a finalist for the Lammy last year…
Subtropics 7, the seventh issue of the literary journal edited by David Leavitt, is now out. Among the contributors: James Magruder, with a short story, "Tenochtitlan.”
The third annual Palm Springs Bold Strokes Books Lesbian Book Festival will be held March 5-March 8, 2009.
Meanwhile, Bold Strokes has announced several notable acquisitions: Veritas, a new mystery from Anne Laughlin, previously named an Emerging Writer by the Lambda Literary Foundation; Lightbearer, a novel from John Caruso, reflecting his own experience as a gay man coming out of both Christian fundamentalism and homosexual reparative therapy; and Elizabeth Ridley’s classic, The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke, set in 1909.
Publisher Fay Jacobs of A&M Books will reissue a special 35th Anniversary edition of the first book ever published by the legendary Naiad Press, The Latecomer by Sarah Aldridge. It will include comments from Ann Bannon, Katherine V. Forrest, Radclyffe, Lee Lynch, Holly Near and many others. Look for it in April.
Speaking of Radclyffe, her Honor series was featured in a Slate article on the emerging new stars of lesbian romance novels: Secret Service agents.
GLB Publishers, which neglected to include a "T" in its name when it started publishing print books twenty years ago, is partially atoning by adding transgender fiction and nonfiction, which will join its existing e-book ventures for lesbian and gay work.
Following the publication of Elizabeth Bradfield’s Interpretive Work, Arktoi Books has come out with its second poetry collection, The Heart’s Traffic, by Ching-In Chen. Arktoi is the Red Hen Press imprint specializing in works by lesbian authors.
Poetic Voices Without Borders 2 (Gival Press), edited by Robert L. Giron, includes a sizable number of out gay poets among its 150 contributors.
Lethe Press has reissued R.W. Day’s post-apocalyptic romance, A Strong and Sudden Thaw, which became an online sensation when it first appeared in 2006.
Neil S. Plakcy’s Mahu Fire is a finalist for the "Hawaii Five-O" Award for best police procedural. Alyson will reissue Mahu Fire next month.
Charlie Cochrane is feeling joyful about a rave from Joyfully Reviewed that dubbed her novel, Lessons in Love, “a really good romance with the bonus of a well-written mystery.”
Strong reviews have also been garnered by two titles from Seal Press: Labor of Love: One Man’s Extraordinary Pregnancy by Thomas Beatie and Transgender History by Susan Stryker.
Seventh Window Publications will finally have a logo, due up on the company web site this month. Coming up for Seventh Window is M.J. Pearson’s new gay romance, Helpless, set during the Oscar Wilde trials, and a reissue of Ten Thick Inches, Kenneth Harrison’s collection of erotic short stories.
Yet another first novel from Bella Books: October’s Promise, by Marianne Garver, which will anchor a romance saga series set in a fictional New Hampshire town. October’s Promise is the first acquisition of Bella’s new editorial director, Karin Kallmaker.
After producing a series of gay-themed films from original screenplays by writer/director and co-founder Rob Williams, Guest House Films has optioned the rights to Jim Tushinski’s novel, Van Allen’s Ecstasy. Rob will adapt and direct, and produce with his life partner and Guest House Films co-founder Rodney Johnson and their producing partner Matthew Montgomery.
Poet D. A. Powell’s latest compilation, Chronic (Graywolf Press), got a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, which included this: “This fourth collection from Powell is simultaneously an accessible heartbreaker, a rare gem for connoisseurs, a genre-altering breakthrough and a long anticipated follow-up.”
On the radio: I was interviewed recently about my latest Benjamin Justice mystery, Spider Season, on Tish Pearlman’s Out of Bounds, which airs on east coast NPR affiliates WEOS-FM and WSKG-FM. Out of Bounds was awarded "Best Public Affairs Program Series" by The New York State Broadcasters Association last year. No podcasts yet, but you can hear Tish’s past interviews with Kate Clinton, Janis Ian, Lesley Gore and other out folks.
And now, the Book Buzz Interview, with Modernist Press publisher Stephen Soucy:
Steve Soucy, who lives in Los Angeles, is acquisitions editor for CQ Press, where he signs academic authors to write political science books. He’s also the principal of Modernist Press, based in New York and L.A. Steve has published short fiction and sold one screenplay option as he was completing his Masters degree in Professional Writing and Screenwriting at the University of Southern California.
JMW: Last year, you started Modernist Press to publish a book of short stories, 90069: West Hollywood Stories, which you edited, with an introduction by Patricia Nell Warren (and which included a story of mine). Tell us about it and how you put it together.
SS: West Hollywood Stories features stories set within the city and written by gay men, including Ben Scuglia, Joe Symon, Rakesh Satyal, Kyle T. Wilson, Max Pierce, Tim State, Alex Roberts, Felice Picano, Jameson Currier, Paul Cain, Shaun Levin, and first-time writer, Frank Bua. The project was originally slated for publication with Haworth Press but that fell apart when Haworth was purchased by Taylor and Francis. I sent out a proposal for the book to a number of mid-sized companies publishing LGBT literature but came up empty. The book was considered too niche, not a large enough audience. This round of rejections inspired me to launch my own small publishing house, Modernist Press, and 90069: West Hollywood Stories was my first release. (90069 being the zip code for the western section of the city.)
JMW: How did you start? How did you select the authors and make contact?
SS: I personally approached a number of established writers, asking for submissions. Several declined for various reasons but a number of others had a story in their arsenal set in West Hollywood, or an idea for a story, and my invitation gave them a reason to write and/or finish it. I also ran a call for submissions in the Lambda Literary Report. Eventually, I culled 14 stories from about 40 submitted. The book was published just before the West Hollywood Book Fair last September, where I launched it.
JMW: With advances in desktop publishing, E-publishing and print-on-demand (POD), more authors and editors seem to be turning to self-publishing, though it can still be risky and quite daunting. What has your experience been as a neophyte self-publisher?
SS: I went POD with this title, but I don’t think I’d go that route again. I worked with iUniverse, because they guaranteed that the book would be produced within the time frame I required. They were difficult to work with in a number of ways, especially communicating about the cover design I wanted. They also have a few up-charges that a writer may not be aware of when he or she first enters into the agreement. It’s obviously more difficult to see any profit when you do a book POD, but I wasn’t concerned about that. I mainly wanted to bring this first book to market. I promised my authors I would deliver and I made it happen. For some people POD may work great, but I don’t think it’s the way to go if you are going to create a list of books. For my next title, I’m going the "traditional" route of a print run, maintaining an inventory, and using the more established modes of distribution. Either way, it’s a lot of hard work.
JMW: So Modernist Press has more projects in the pipeline?
SS: I’m planning another anthology of literary fiction. This one will feature stories that are connected directly to, or inspired by, a work of art, which needs to be a major component of the story. For more details, go to: www.modernistpress.com. Other than that, I’m looking to publish literary fiction and am open to novels, novellas, and short fiction collections.
JMW: As an out editor and publisher, can you see any trends or new directions in the years ahead for LGBT writers and LGBT publishing and distribution?
SS: I think InsightOut Books (mail order and online site) is a solid way for LGBT books to find their audience. West Hollywood Stories will be included there early this year. Online sales of West Hollywood Stories have been strong. The book has sold a few hundred copies via Amazon.com and also on the iUniverse e-commerce site. The book is also in gay bookstores across the country. As far as trends, I’m waiting for something to emerge on the web for writers like it has with new bands or filmmakers, using MySpace and YouTube to attract a following.
JMW: Any advice for LGBT writers on how to better reach their audience?
SS: : Advertise on FaceBook and similar sites. All this social media needs to be utilized. Perhaps start a blog. Finally, keep knocking on doors, keep building a list of credits, even if they are non-traditional. Publishing is expanding in new ways, and there’s room for all of us.
That’s all the Book Buzz for now. So, go read a book!