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The-Ada-Decades

My recent novel-in-stories, The Ada Decades, got a boost recently when PRX released an interview I did back in April with host Guy Rathbun. The interview was a great experience for me, because the radio host was so engaged with the book and with LGBT history in general. We talked about everything from Stonewall to the National Park Service theme study of LGBTQ historic sites.

You can check out the interview here!

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All you book lovers out there … My publisher, Bywater Books, is having a super sale this weekend on every one of their titles, including two of my historical, LGBT-themed novels: Out of Time (Lambda Award winner) and the recently published The Ada Decades. You can pick up copies for 25% off the list price, including print and ebooks.

Check it out and take advantage to stock up on some terrific writers like (ahem) myself, Fay Jacobs, Ann McMan, Rachel Spangler, Bonnie Morris, Cheryl Head, Ellen Hart, Marianne K. Martin, Judith Katz, Elana Dykewomon, Georgia Beers, and many, many more.

Just visit the website and use the coupon code BANGBANG when checking out.

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I just got back from a five-day residential workshop* at Hollins University, called Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop. Although I didn’t realize until I got there, Annie Dillard attended Hollins and wrote her iconic Pilgrim at Tinker Creek when she lived in the area.

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Tinker Mountain

It’s a beautiful place that I didn’t get to explore because I was inside most of the day talking fiction and craft! But the landscape of the area (the Blue Ridge Mountains) and of the school itself were both inspiring.

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View from the porch of the main administration building, Hollins University

I was in a workshop of eight writers called “Advanced Novel” with author/professor Fred Leebron, and got excellent feedback on the first chapters of my historical novel-in-progress, Clio Rising. We did various exercises related to the future marketing of our novels, like writing the log line and back cover copy. To whet your reading appetite, here’s the log line I came up with for Clio:

In 1980s New York, a newly out gay woman embarks on a job as companion to a literary giant of the “Lost Generation,” a closeted lesbian who accomplished just one great book.

Now it’s on to revision!

 

*My attendance at TMWW was made possible by a Regional Artist Project Grant from the Arts and Science Council – Charlotte/Mecklenburg and the North Carolina Arts Council.

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Independent bookstores need LGBT support! They don’t just sell books, but often act as local community centers as well. I had the pleasure of reading at two recently – Malaprop’s in Asheville, NC, and Bluestockings in New York City. Remember, these stores often carry titles by small presses (like LGBT and feminist publishers) that the big box stores don’t stock. You can find an indie near you by checking IndieBound. Even if you aren’t located near an indie store, you can order books through their websites and support their important work. Happy shopping!

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Reading at Bluestockings Bookstore on June 4, 2017

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What’s that in the front window at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, N.C. – one of the greatest indie bookstores in the country? Could it be the cover of The Ada Decades, my new historical LGBT-themed novel? I’m reading there tomorrow evening at 7pm, if you’re in the area … or are in the mood for a trip to Asheville. (And really, who isn’t?)

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LGBT Pride in Asheville, October 2014.

Asheville is a beautiful LGBT-friendly city in western North Carolina, and I’ll be reading there on May 19 at 7pm from my historical novel, The Ada Decades, at one of the truly great independent bookstores, Malaprop’s. Joining me will be three other well-known lesbian writers: fellow Bywater authors Fay Jacobs and Ann McMan, plus Lynn Ames. Should be a gay old time!

I’ll also be reading at the LGBT Center in Raleigh, NC, on May 21 at 1pm. Drop in, y’all!

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Read this smart, thoughtful review of my historical novel, The Ada Decades, in North Carolina’s LGBT newspaper, Q Notes! Torie Dominguez calls it “a work of quiet wisdom.”

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If you haven’t seen the website for the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, get thee hither! This amazing project documents historic sites related to LGBT people across all eras and all five boroughs.

Plus, its interactive map has a filter option, so you can search for sites by specific topics you’re particularly interested in, like, say, activist sites or theatrical sites. You can also search just for places related to lesbian history or trans history.

The group also sponsors talks about its work in the area of history and historic sites, and highlights other programs related to LGBT history in the city.

Gay “Be-In” at the Sheep Meadow in Central Park at the end of the first NYC Pride March, June 28, 1970. Photo by Diana Davies. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.

 

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Here’s a cool article about lesbian “power” couples of the past, quite a few of whom I have to admit I’d never heard of. Who are your favorites?

Ethel Williams and Ethel Waters

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Twig drove her to The Hornet’s Nest, a bar in the basement of an old hotel in town. It wasn’t a homosexual club so much as a place where gay people gathered while the management turned a blind eye. Both women and men frequented it, and Cam had accompanied Auggie and Twig there many times, against Ada’s advice. The place seemed seedy, dangerous, with an entrance down a dark flight of stairs. “And what if you run into someone from school?” Ada had asked.

“I reckon they’ll be as scared to see me as I am to see them,” Cam replied.

The plot of my new novel, The Ada Decades, covers seventy years in the lives of LGBT people in Charlotte, N.C. In the above scene, which takes place in 1962, Ada goes (reluctantly) with her gay friend Twig to The Hornet’s Nest, one of several bars in Charlotte to “serve as ad hoc gathering spaces for the gay community,” according to Charlotte historian Josh Burford.

Before there were LGBT community centers, conferences, high school and college associations, bookstores, and choruses, bars served an important function in the lives of queer people. Even at the seediest bars, queer folks could meet each other for friendship and love, finding community when they might have feared they were alone.

As Burford notes, bars as community institutions laid “the groundwork for future activism.” For example, at Julius, a gay-favorite bar located on West 10th Street in New York City, gay men staged a “sip in” in 1966 to challenge a state law that prohibited serving alcohol to “disorderly” people—and just being gay was considered “disorderly” conduct. The June 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Sheridan Square, are generally credited as the start of the modern LGBT rights movement.

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The “sip in” at Julius in Greenwich Village in 1966

The downside, of course, is that bars foster drinking, and habitual drinking can lead to alcoholism—a problem that our community has been tackling through LGBT-specific social services for 30+ years.

For more about my characters Ada, Cam, and Twig and their experiences as gay Southerners “back in the day,” pick up a copy of The Ada Decades at your favorite bookstore or online retailer.

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