Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ Category

???????????????????????????????Don’t you just love June? This month, I am very excited to be taking part with 17 other LGBT historians/scholars at a roundtable put together by the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to identify more queer sites for the National Register of Historic Sites. Last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell launched the initiative at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Stay tuned here for more updates on this groundbreaking and, quite frankly, historic project.

This month, I’m especially happy because my home state of Pennsylvania just got marriage rights and my partner of 22 years and I will finally be getting hitched on June 18. Marriage is so new here that Katie had to apply for the license as the groom and I’m the bride. No tux and gown for us, though – just quick and dirty at the office of the magisterial district judge (what we call our “justice of the peace” here in Pittsburgh), who, coincidentally, is openly gay.

Speaking of marriage, thanks to writer Mala Kumar for tagging me for a blog chain, in which different lesbian writers talk about their process. Mala’s the author of the forthcoming novel “The Paths of Marriage,” which is due out this fall from Bedazzled Ink Books, about three generations of Indian women. I can’t wait to read it!

Now here are my thoughts on writing:

What am I working on?

I’m in the process of moving from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Charlotte, N.C., so my life is in chaos (to put it mildly) and I haven’t had any time to write. I’m looking forward to setting up my new home office when we hit the Tar Heel State and getting back to work on an unnamed novel that takes place both in the present and back in the 1950s, about two women who rendezvous every year at a women’s summer camp in upstate New York – think “Brokeback Mountain” on Lake George. Other projects include a memoir about the year I took care of my parents, both of whom had dementia at the same time.

How does my work differ from others of this genre?

I’m always interested in the interplay of past and present, and my writing reflects that. How does what happened in the past affect who we are today? I’m also really fascinated by physical places and strive to transform them into characters in my work. So in my novel, “Out of Time,” recently re-released as an e-book by Bywater Books, Manhattan isn’t just the setting – it becomes an integral part of the story-telling. Even in my memoir, the house where I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh is a major character. To learn more about my fiction writing, please visit www.paulamartinac.com.

Why do I write what I do?


Me and my dad, 1958

I grew up with a profound interest in history, inherited from my dad – one of my earliest memories is going with him to salvage bricks from the neighborhood where he grew up, which was being bulldozed to build a new highway. Not long after that, I started writing fiction and have been at it for more than 50 years. Over the course of time, the two passions – history and writing – have co-mingled, so that now I can’t imagine writing fiction that doesn’t reflect on where people have come from.

How does my writing process work?

It’s not much of a process – I make myself sit down and I do it! It helps to have a writing group that keeps me honest. I sign up to share my work and then voilà – I have a built-in deadline. And as a person who’s made a living as a journalist, I’ve very, very good with deadlines. I’ve never been one for coffee-shop writing or writing “dates” with friends; I prefer the quiet of my home office. The writing progresses slowly in the beginning – 3 or 4 pages at a time, with lots of false starts – until I get really into it, and then it begins flowing more freely.

And now, up next, I would like to introduce you to two fantastic novelists – both mystery writers, a favorite genre of mine. I had the pleasure of spending time with Minnesotans Jessie Chandler and Ellen Hart at the Camp Rehoboth Women’s FEST in April, and I am thrilled to be able to showcase them here. They’ll be giving their answers to the same questions next week on their social media sites, so stay tuned!


Jessie ChandlerJESSIE CHANDLER is the award-winning author of the Shay O’Hanlon Caper series. She lives in Minneapolis, MN with her partner and two mutts, Fozzy Bear and Ollie. In the fall and winter, Jessie writes like her pants are on fire, and spends her summers selling assorted trinkets to unsuspecting conference and festival goers.

The first book in Jessie’s series, “Bingo Barge Murder,” won the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award. Her second novel, “Hide and Snake Murder,” won an Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) and a Golden Crown Mystery/Thriller Goldie Award. Visit Jessie online at jessiechandler.com or at her blog, mysteriouslymurderousmusings.wordpress.com.


Ellen HartELLEN HART is the author of thirty-one crime novels in two different series.  She is a five-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery, a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Best Popular Fiction, a three-time winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award in several categories, a recipient of the Alice B Medal, and was made an official GLBT Literary Saint at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans in 2005.   In 2010, Ellen received the GCLS Trailblazer Award for lifetime achievement in the field of lesbian literature.  For the past seventeen years, Ellen has taught “An Introduction to Writing the Modern Mystery” through the The Loft Literary Center, the largest independent writing community in the nation. Ellen’s newest Jane Lawless mystery, “Taken by the Wind,” was released by St. Martin’s/Minotaur in October, 2013.  “The Old Deep and Dark,” the 22nd in the series, will be released in the fall of 2014. Ellen lives in the Twin Cities with her partner of 36 years. Visit her online at http://www.ellenhart.com.



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Minneapolis, Minn.

Quatrefoil Library
1619 Dayton Avenue, Suite 105

Quatrefoil Library, the country’s second oldest lending library of materials related to sexual minorities (the Gerber/Hart Library in Chicago was the first), takes its name from the 1951 novel by James Barr, Quatrefoil, which was one of the first to depict gay characters positively. In the mid-1970s, David Irwin and his partner, Dick Hewetson, each began collecting gay-themed books. When they moved in together in 1977, they combined their collections and kept them in the linen closet of their condo, which was soon overflowing with volumes. The two men incorporated their holdings as Quatrefoil Library in 1983, and the first public home of the library opened several years later at 1021 West Broadway. Though their relationship ended not long after the library was incorporated, their important collection of gay literature was able to live on.

The library grew exponentially during its early years and in 1987 found larger, much-needed space at this address (“a cozy set of rooms,” according to one reporter), a former school renovated to house the offices of various organizations. Today, still located at this address, Quatrefoil collects not only books and magazines, but memorabilia, audio and video, games, newspaper clippings, and historical erotica related to sexual minorities. At a celebration in 1991, Quatrefoil‘s author, James Barr, was the library’s guest of honor.

In 2008, the library published its own history; it is available online here.

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Grand Rapids, Minn.

Judy Garland home
2727 US Highway 169 South

This house in Grand Rapids was the first home of Frances Gumm/Judy Garland (1922-1969), the singer/actor/gay icon whose death has occasionally been credited with setting the flame that ignited the Stonewall Rebellion. Garland‘s father was reportedly gay, as was her second husband, director Vincente Minnelli, and there have been rumors about her own bisexuality.

The Gumms owned the New Grand Theater on Pokagama Avenue in Grand Rapids in the 1920s. Baby Gumm gave her first public performance there at age 2, singing “Jingle Bells” with her two older sisters. When she was 4, her parents moved the family to California to pursue their show business ambitions – and also apparently to escape the rumors of Frank Gumm’s sexual inclinations.

Judy’s best-loved role is undoubtedly as Dorothy Gale in the classic 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz. Every June since 1975, Grand Rapids has celebrated its most famous resident with a Judy Garland Festival, complete with bands and floats. In 1989, the 50th anniversary of the movie, the town dedicated its very own Yellow Brick Road, a pathway of 5,000 bricks, about one-fifth of which have been engraved with personal messages (at an average cost of about 50 dollars).

The Gumm house has been restored to look like it would have in the 1920s, and is open to the public, with family items and photographs and Wizard of Oz memorabilia on display.

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