Book Buzz April 2009
Author: John Morgan Wilson
April 1, 2009
It’s awards season, so let’s get started: To see the complete list of 105 finalists for this year’s Lambda Literary Awards, representing 72 publishers in 22 LGBT categories, go to Lammy Finalists. For details on the May 28 awards ceremony in NYC, visit Lammy Awards Ceremony
The 21st Annual Triangle Awards, honoring gay and lesbian fiction, nonfiction and poetry, will be handed out May 7 in NYC. Among this year’s recipients: Martin Duberman, who receives the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. Check out the Finalists and details on this free event.
Nina Revoyr’s The Age of Dreaming (Akashic Books) is a nominee for a Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Award in the mystery/thriller category. If you recall, Val McDermid won this prize in 2000 for A Place of Execution
ForeWord Magazine‘s Book of the Year Awards finalists included Merry Shannon, Gabrielle Goldsby, and Radclyffe.
Radclyffe also turned up as a finalist – twice – on the EPPIE (Electronic Publishing) Awards list for In Deep Waters 2: Cruising the Strip (edited with Karin Kallmaker) in the Erotica Anthology category and Winds of Fortune, Rad’s erotic romance.
Eloise Klein Healy and Elizabeth Bradfield are also celebrating doubly this awards season. Elizabeth’s Interpretive Work, the first release from Eloise’s Arktoi Books imprint, is a finalist for Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Lesbian Poetry Prize and a Lammy finalist in the same category (see our Q&A with Eloise below).
Nancy K. Pearson’s Two Minutes of Light (Perugia Press) won the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Prize in Poetry.
The Saints & Sinners Literary Festival, devoted to LGBT writing, will take place May 14-17 in New Orleans’ French Quarter. In addition to classes, panels, theater, readings, dinners, a book fair and lots of socializing, S&S will present the James Duggins Mid-Career Author Award (and $5,000 each) to Michael Lowenthal and Elana Dykewomon.
C. Dale Young is the recipient of a 2009 Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, valued at $25,000.
Another Lammy nominee, Neil Plakcy’s Mahu Fire, won the Hawaii Five-O Award for best police procedural at the Left Coast Crime mystery conference.
Steve Berman is stepping down as editor of Lethe Press, while remaining as owner and publisher. Craig Gidney takes Steve’s place.
At Graywolf Press, Polly Carden has been promoted to assistant editor.
Patricia Nell Warren’s Wildcat Press has sold publishing rights in Italy to Harlan’s Race, the sequel to her gay classic, The Front Runner, which is now in print in eleven languages.
To mark the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, Mark Thompson and Richard Labonte have written introductory essays for Jack Fritscher’s Stonewall: Stories of Gay Liberation Check out a rpeview at www.jackfritscher.com.
Raymond Luczak has created a subtitled video clip, talking in American Sign Language about his book, Assembly Required: Notes from a Deaf Gay Life (RID Press). RID is the publishing branch of the Registry of the Interpreters of the Deaf. You can view the clip on YouTube.
Fallen Angel Reviews has given a “recommended read” to Stevie Woods’ historical novel Conflict, a sequel to her earlier Cane, continuing the story into the Civil War.
Bill Warner’s GLB Publishers has officially launched a companion site, www.e-transgenmag.com, which he believes is the only online publisher specializing in transgender writing.
Bold Strokes Books has announced several acquisitions: Shea Godfrey’s romantic fantasy, Nightshade; Greg Herren’s mystery, Vieux Carré Voodoo; and Yolanda Wallace’s romance novel, In Media Res. All are scheduled for release in 2010.
Another first novel from Bella Books: Waltzing at Midnight by Robbi McCoy.
Bella is also busy with its June 4-7 Y Tour of the greater Denver area, putting “the Y back in womYn” and a number of its lesbian authors in touch with over 2,000 female readers. The Lambda Literary Foundation is a co-sponsor. For details, visit www.BellaYTour.com.
I’m pleased to again serve on the planning committee of the West Hollywood Book Fair, which each year brings together more than 300 diverse writers and 20,000 visitors of all ages. This eighth annual WHBF is set for Sunday, October 4. To be considered for a panel or other author event, contact at Corey Roskin, with a brief description of you and your published work.
And now, the Book Buzz Interview, with Eloise Klein Healy:
Eloise Klein Healy, Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Emerita, was the founding chair of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles. She is the author of six books of poetry. Her most recent collection, The Islands Project: Poems For Sappho, is from Red Hen Press. Ms. Healy directed the Women’s Studies Program at California State University Northridge and taught in the Feminist Studio Workshop at The Woman’s Building in Los Angeles. She is the co-founder of ECO-ARTS, an eco-tourism/arts venture and founding editor of Arktoi Books.
JMW: When and why was Arktoi Books created as a new imprint of Red Hen Press and what is its focus?
EKH: In 2006, I arranged to create an imprint with Red Hen Press, a nationally respected small press publisher located in Los Angeles. I chose Red Hen because the editors, Kate Gale and Mark Cull, are publishers whose goal is to expand the range of authors who might not find their way to more mainstream presses. Also, I have had three books published with Red Hen and I have a good working relationship with them. I wanted to create an imprint – meaning I would basically be the acquisitions editor, and I would also shepherd books through the publication process and mentor the authors. In my experience as a lesbian author, and in my role as a judge of many literary competitions, I had noticed a drop in the opportunities for lesbian writers to publish high quality literary work. Thus, by making one more path for lesbian authors to take toward publication, I could affect the community of lesbian writers in a positive way. At Arktoi, I currently publish one book a year [note: Red Hen publishes 18-20 books a year] and have established a submission schedule that rotates from poetry through fiction through nonfiction. I also have a marketing director, Nickole Brown, who carries out a publicity and marketing plan based on our discussions with the author of each book.
JMW: Who are some of the authors Arktoi Books is publishing, and why?
EKH: Elizabeth Bradfield is the first Arktoi author. Liz is a nature guide, leading whale watching trips in both Alaska and Baja California. Her collection of poems, Interpretive Work, focuses on environmental issues and examines how people "see" things, how cultures shape what is "seen." I’m happy to say that Liz is a finalist for both the 2008 Audre Lorde Lesbian Poetry Prize sponsored by New York’s Publishing Triangle and the 2008 Lambda Lesbian Poetry Prize. These nominations speak well of the wonderful talent Liz possesses. Ching-In Chen, the second Arktoi author, is finishing up an MFA degree at UC Riverside. She has worked in community organizing in both Boston and San Francisco and is very active in queer politics. The Heart’s Traffic, her first collection, is a novel in poems that chronicles the life of Xiomei, a young girl who loses her best friend Sparrow on the eve of her immigration to the United States from China. The book follows Xiomei’s childhood and young adulthood, her developing sexuality and lesbian identity, and the haunting memory of her dead friend. Ching-In’s book has just come out and she is already receiving very positive reviews. Cathy Kirkwood is the first fiction writer that Arktoi Books will publish. Right now we are in the editing phase, just about to go into production for a 2010 release. Cathy’s Cut Away, a novel that takes place in Los Angeles and the Salton Sea, features a lesbian plastic surgeon, a trangendered woman, a missing adolescent girl, and the girl’s mother.
JMW: What are some of the more common reasons you reject submitted collections?
EKH: There is much excellent work that has been submitted to Arktoi Books. So it is very difficult to choose just one book to publish in a year. I can say that submissions are rejected because: 1) the collection of poems or the fiction manuscript is just not ready – not fully formed in the mind of the writer and, thus, is not working on the page; 2) the subject matter is not what I’m looking for (for example, I am not interested in publishing work that is solely focused on erotica – there are already many presses doing that work); and 3) the language is not crafted to the level of excellence that I’m looking for.
JMW: Where can interested readers find Arktoi Books and Red Hen Press Books?
EKH: Arktoi books and Red Hen books are distributed by the University of Chicago distribution system and can be ordered directly from U. of Chicago. But books can also be ordered directly from the Red Hen website at www.redhen.org. Of course, online bookstores carry the titles and your local independent bookstore will have them or order them. For people living in Los Angeles and environs, Skylight Books in Los Feliz (note: East Hollywood area) is a good place to check.
JMW: Where can interested writers find Red Hen Press submission guidelines?
EKH: The guidelines are posted at www.redhen.org/arktoi.asp; www.eloisekleinhealy.com/arktoi.html; and soon at www.arktoibooks.com. I also respond to inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s all the Book Buzz for now. So, go read a book!