Book Buzz May 2009

By now, the dust has settled on last month’s brouhaha, in which the online bookseller stripped thousands of LGBT titles of their sales rankings (a key promo perk linked to web searches and bestseller lists), supposedly because of their “adult” content.  Everything from queer classics to squeaky clean children’s books were expunged, triggering a worldwide response that led Amazon to restore most of the banned titles.  Whether it was censorship or a technical glitch – as Amazon later claimed – countless LGBT writers propelled the protest. 

It was apparently triggered when author-blogger Mark Probst e-mailed Erastes, director of the Erotic Authors Association, tipping her that her titles had disappeared from the Amazon rankings.  Her blog fueled an e-blast from writers like Anne Brooke. The word spread and the mainstream media picked it up, with PC World blogger JR Raphael claiming to have sorted it all out.
Speaking of Erastes, she sends word that Romance Writers of America has a new LGBT online chapter, Rainbow Romance Writers . Among those instrumental in making it happen: Jade Buchanan, Kimberly Gardner, Sara Bell, JL Langley, and Laura Baumbach.
Rebel Satori’s Queer Mojo imprint has expanded to include poetry, with the acquisition of collections by j/j hastain, Chad Helder and Shane Allison.
Jack Fritscher picked up two awards from the National Leather Association: for Best Non-fiction Article, “The Legendary Larry Townsend,” and Best Non-Fiction Book, Gay San Francisco.  To view all the winners, use the link on NLA’s home page. Jack’s Stonewall: Stories of Gay Liberation, is also a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards finalist.
Triple Threat: P.D. Publishing, Inc. has acquired print rights for author Ann Somerville’s speculative fiction/BDSM novel, Remastering Jerna, aimed at summer publication, as well as the sequel, Consequences, and a third novel, Hidden Faults.
Malcolm Boyd turns 86 on June 8 and his voice remains strong.  His 32nd book, Wisdom for the Aging: Practical Advice for Living the Best Years of Your Life Right Now, is due out from Ken Arnold Books next month.
Rich Murphy has won the Tenth Annual Gival Press Poetry Award for his collection, Voyeur.
Trebor Healey is proof that when a press folds, it doesn’t mean the publisher’s titles have to die with it.  From the ashes of Haworth Press, acquired last year by Taylor & Francis, Trebor rescued his fiction collection, A Perfect Scar and Other Stories, due out this month from Rebel Satori.  Trebor also had a short story in a Haworth collection, Fool For Love, edited by R.D. Cochrane and Timothy Lambert, which they placed with Cleis Press.  And Trebor’s nonfiction anthology, Queer and Catholic, edited with Amie M. Evans for Haworth, was picked up and published last year by Routledge, a Taylor & Francis subsidiary.
Two poems from James Cihlar’s collection, Undoing, from Little Pear Press, are winners of Prairie Schooner’s Glenna Luschei Award.
A review in Sojourners Magazine, a progressive Christian journal, had high praise for Eric Gutierrez’s Disciples of the Street: The Promise of a Hip Hop Church, which has a strong gay element.
Reminder: The Lambda Literary Awards will be announced May 28 in NYC at the Foundation’s annual fund-raising ceremony.
And don’t forget the Publishing Triangle’s 21st Annual Triangle Awards on May 7, honoring gay and lesbian fiction, nonfiction and poetry.
Ditto Saints & Sinners, the festive LGBT literary gathering May 14-17 in New Orleans.
Last but not least, the Benjamin Franklin Awards (several LGBT authors are among the finalists), sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association.  Winners will be announced at the IBPA awards ceremony in NYC on May 28.
Finally: Last year, I contributed a personal essay on the late Vito Russo to Love, West Hollywood: Reflections of Los Angeles (Alyson), a current Lammy finalist edited by Chris Freeman and James J. Berg.  Now, with other friends of Vito, I’ll be interviewed by filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz for his documentary, The Life and Times of Vito Russo, about the beloved activist and author of The Celluloid Closet.  If you knew Vito and have special memories to share you might contact Jeffrey at
And now, the Book Buzz Interview, with Len Barot:
Radclyffe.jpgLen Barot is the president of Bold Strokes Books, Inc., an independent LGBTQ publishing house with more than 50 authors and 160 active titles in print. A retired surgeon, Len lives in Upstate New York with her partner, Lee.  Under her pseudonym, Radclyffe, Len has written 32 novels and edited and contributed to dozens of anthologies. Seven of her works have been Lambda Literary Award finalists, including the Lambda Literary winners Erotic Interludes 2: Stolen Moments, edited with Stacia Seaman, and the romance Distant Shores, Silent Thunder
(Photo by Shane Salek)
JMW: When and why did you found Bold Strokes Books?
LB: Bold Strokes Books will mark five years in July. I believe that our literature is a fundamental part of the queer culture and a lifeline for many of us, and it has always been part of my life. Publishing offers me something that writing cannot – it allows me to be a part of the greater world of LGBTQ literature by promoting the work of other authors, and I am gratified every day to be able to contribute. I also learn a great deal about my own craft from working intimately with editors and authors. And finally, making books is just plain fun.  
JMW: How many books does BSB expect to publish this year, and in what genres and subject areas?
LB: Our 2009 schedule includes 58 titles, spanning gay and lesbian general fiction, from Leslea Newman’s The Reluctant Daughter to John Caruso’s portrayal of Lucifer as the "genius of desire" in Lightbearer, to all categories of genre fiction: romance, gay and lesbian mystery, gay erotica, lesbian erotica, and speculative fiction.
JMW: Until fairly recently, Bold Strokes was known as a lesbian press.  Now you have a number of male authors in the fold, including me, for my early reprints.  Why the expansion to include men?
LB: I have always been a fan of gay literature (I have first editions of most of the gay works published in the 70s and later), and it was always my long-range plan to expand Bold Strokes into a queer publishing house. Naturally I started with the works and the audience I knew best, which was lesbian fiction. As Bold Strokes became established and the shift in gay and lesbian publishing moved away from "mainstream" houses back toward the independents, I felt it was the right time to begin signing men who were writing gay general and genre fiction. We now have titles from guys writing gay male general fiction, erotica, and mysteries and we are actively reviewing submissions from men every day.
JMW: Not to slight any of your other authors, but can you mention one particular title that might indicate a new avenue for Bold Strokes?
LB: In addition to our adult general and genre fiction lines, we have recently signed our first YA title, Lynda Sandoval’s Father Knows Best, in our new BSB Soliloquy line. We look forward to publishing young adult works exploring identity, gender, relationship and life issues. 
JMW: Besides YA, any other subjects or areas where you’d like to see more ideas and submissions in the year ahead?
LB:  I’d love to see general and genre works exploring gender and transgender subjects; urban fantasy from both gay and lesbian authors; gay male mysteries, erotica and romance; young adult submissions; and any exciting, queer-affirming work in any area. We have two general fiction lines (Victory and Liberty), one YA line (Soliloquy), and a broad range of category fiction lines in print and eBook (BSB, Matinee, Aeros) to accommodate the tremendous diversity of our writing and reading community.
JMW: What are some common mistakes writers might avoid when contacting Bold Strokes?
LB: Our submission guidelines are extensive and specific.  If authors hope to have their manuscripts read, they should carefully review and follow these guidelines. A solid, concise synopsis and a polished manuscript will catch the eye of the editors.  A mistake inexperienced authors often make is rushing a work and submitting what is actually a first draft as opposed to a finished product. Typos and grammatical errors are huge red flags.
JMW: Where can readers and booksellers find and order books from Bold Strokes?
LB: We offer direct-to-customer sales of print and e-Books online at We also provide a list of many local independent booksellers and a complete list of our distributors.

That’s all the Book Buzz for now.  So, go read a book!