Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ruth Perkinson's blog

Ruth Perkinson, a really wonderful author, posted on her blog today about the fact that she is going blind. This is the link for the blog Going blind . . .

Ruth is a friend. We've known each other a number of years and, since she lives in Virginia, we've met up a couple of times and at the GCLS conference. Her books and our shared experiences with teaching brought us together. If you haven't read her work, you should. Ruth was one of the first lesbian authors, in our current crop, to veer off from the thin romances, mysteries and other types of stories to write what I guess we would call "literature." Her books have depth and complexity and require you to think.

I'm not trying to insult anyone, but, when Ruth showed up, too many lesbian "novels" were still stuck in the Xena fan fic arena (I swore if I read one more book with a tall, stoic dark haired woman and her spunky, shorter blond girlfriend that I would start a bon fire and burn them all) or suffered from the belief that 120 pages was a long book. I was constantly posting on here, the GCLS site and anywhere else I could rant that we needed to do better. I would use Ruth as my example. Fortunately, we're moving more and more in that direction, but I hate the thought that we may lose Ruth from this community because she can't read to write anymore.

If you do a search, you'll find her books. My personal favorites are Piper's Someday (dog lovers will have a special interest in this) and The Mystic Market. I have reviews of them posted here. If you're looking for good reading with some real substance and texture to it, give Ruth a try.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Legacies of Lesbian Literature Project

Those of you who attended the Golden Crown Literary Society conference last year may have attended a presentation done by Sandra Moran and Marianne K. Martin about a project they were starting. Many of us have realized that some of our heritage is beginning to disappear and it needs to be preserved so that people, not just lesbians, will know how our literature has developed and the women who have played a part in it. Marianne and Sandra came up with a project to do something about this......and then we lost Sandra. Fortunately, Sandra's wife, Cheryl Pletcher, has stepped forward and is determined to finish this as part of Sandra's legacy.

This is going to be no small undertaking, folks. It's not just a matter of writing a paper or making a PowerPoint. The plan is to do video interviews of some of our pioneers while they're still here to tell us our history. Marianne has already started with these and the list includes Dorothy Allison, Ann Bannon, Rita Mae Brown, Emma Donoghue, Rita Mae Brown, Katherine V. Forrest, Jewell Gomez, Jenifer Levin, Lee Lynch, Alice Walker and Jeanette Winterson. Others will be added as the project progresses. They intend to produce a documentary and DVDs so that this information can be stored and shared with people for years to come (assuming we don't blow the world up first.)

I've uploaded a picture of the project logo, designed by Ann McMan. It's really striking.

They need help. Eventually, they're going to need people to help them with script writing, research, production, editing, graphics, promotion, name it and they'll be asking for people who can participate. What can you do right now?

All of the royalties from Sandra's books are going to fund the project, but more is needed. You can make a contribution by going to Contributions aren't tax deductible yet, but they're working on getting that status filed. The site only takes credit cards at the moment, but they're going to work on getting a PayPal link. Cheryl says, if you don't want to donate online, you can send donations to her at 9951 Fountain Circle, Lenexa, KS 66220.

You can also friend the project on Facebook at You can link to the site so that other people will see it and you will receive updates about how the project is progressing.

Maybe it's the history teacher in me, but I was excited about this project when I heard about it last year. I'm impressed with how far they've gotten already in the planning and will be giving them some of my time. A lot of my time if you listen to Marianne.

If you want to contact them, their email addresses are or

They will be happy to have the smallest contribution, time or whatever you can do to support the project. This is OUR history and literature. I hope some of you will be inclined to help in some way.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall

Publisher:       Sky Pony Press

Double Exposure addresses an issue that is not often seen in novels, people who are intersex. Intersex people are those who are born with the gender characteristics of both male and female. This occurs more often than most people are aware because doctors and parents usually prefer to alter a baby to one sex soon after birth and then keep the situation secret. Bridget Birdsall has chosen as her character Alyx Atlas, a fifteen year old whose parents decided to wait for the procedure until their child was older.

Alyx spends the first fourteen years of his life defined as a boy, but life is not easy. He has just enough questionable characteristics to make other boys wonder about him and he is coming to identify himself as a female. After a vicious beating, Alyx’s mother moves him across country to be with her family and to start Alyx’s life over as a girl. Being a teenager is difficult enough, but Alyx’s life is almost unbearable. Her refuge from everything is basketball. She’s very good at that and uses it as the way to make a life for herself in a new high school and community. As the team moves higher in the standings and seems headed for a state title, Alyx begins to feel good about herself for the first time. Nothing stays secret forever though, especially when a jealous teammate begins digging into Alyx’s past. Learning to cope has a whole different meaning when it’s applied to her situation.

Birdsall’s book is an interesting look into what it feels like to be “different” in society. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much depth. According to the author and the way the book is listed, it’s meant to be for young adults, but there isn’t anything here to help them if they happen to be intersex or to make a person more emphathetic towards people who are different. The book is a good look into girls’ basketball and how a team works. It also gives a view of what it is to be a child living in a family where everyone is just a little “different.” Alyx could be any teenager though. What she deals with at school and on the basketball team could apply to any teenager. The fact that she feels alienated from her family is certainly not unique. The problem with the book is, if you take away the fact that Alyx is intersex, then this is nothing more than a story about a teenager trying to come into her own sense of identity. Then Alyx spends too much time whining about her family and how everyone is unfair to her to be really sympathetic.

Perhaps Birdsall meant to show that intersex youth are no different than other people. In that case, the book is successful. If you are searching for a book that will help you or someone you know learn how to deal with being intersex, this one won’t help much.

Review by Lynne Pierce

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Neither Present Time by Caren Werlinger

Publisher:       Corgyn Publishing

It gets to be boring to review Caren Werlinger’s books after a while. After it’s been said a few times that her writing is magnificent, engrossing, sophisticated and thought provoking, to say it again seems redundant. There is a danger that people might not believe the reviews anymore. So, here is a new word – consistently. Caren Werlinger’s books are consistently magnificent, engrossing, sophisticated and thought provoking.

Neither Present Time is the story of two women who are brought together by a book. Beryl Gray is a university librarian who finds a book with a personal inscription in it and is driven to find out more about the people involved. This leads her to Aggie Bishop and her great-aunt Cory. Beryl and Aggie share the characteristic of being caregivers. Beryl cares for practically everyone she knows and Aggie is trying to care for Aunt Cory. Since Aunt Cory doesn’t think she needs any help, even though her family is trying to institutionalize her and sell away the family home, Aggie’s one case practically equals all of Beryl’s. Neither Beryl nor Aggie has been able to sustain healthy relationships, but in learning Aunt Cory’s story, both women will learn a great deal about themselves. Looking into the past will cause them to examine the present with different eyes and will alter the lives of all three women.

Werlinger tells a good story, but what makes her book more appealing is the complexity of what she presents. There is romance in the book, but romance is in the story not THE story. There are messages and lessons to be learned while her characters do a complex dance weaving together the themes, including moving between different time periods. Werlenger’s talent is shown by the story being real, but not preachy; complex, but easily understood; and peopled by characters the reader probably knows.

Neither Present Time is like all of Werlinger’s books, a good read.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Golden Crown Literary Society award winners

The Golden Crown Literary Society has just finished its annual conference and given the awards for 2015. If you haven't seen it, here is the list:

Award Winners of 2015

Ann Bannon Popular Choice

  • Olive Oil & White Bread by Georgia Beers, Bywater Books

Tee Corinne Award for Outstanding Cover Design

  • Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio for Everything, Bedazzled Ink Publishing

Trailblazer Award

  • Joan Nestle

Directors’ Award

  • Watty Boss

Lee Lynch Classic Award

  • Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, Published by Daughters Publishing Co.

Anthology/Collection (Creative Non-Fiction)

  • An American Queer: The Amazon Trail by Lee Lynch, Published by Bold Strokes Books
  • Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders by Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall, Published by Bold Strokes Books

Anthology/Collection (Fiction)

  • Wicked Things: Lesbian Halloween Short Stories Edited by Jae and Astrid Ohletz, Published by Ylva Publishing
  • Unwrap These Presents Edited by Astrid Ohletz and R.G. Emanuelle, Published by Ylva Publishing

Debut Author

  • Never Too Late by Julie Blair, Published by Bold Strokes Books
  • Just Intuition by Makenzi Fisk, Published by Mischievous Books
  • Stick McLaughlin: The Prohibition Years by CF Frizzell, Published by Bold Strokes Books

Dramatic General Fiction

  • The War Within by Yolanda Wallace, Published by Bold Strokes Books
  • Loved and Lost by Stephanie Kusiak, Published by Sapphire Books Publishing
  • Everything by Carole Wolfe, Published by Bedazzled Ink Publishing


  • Heart's Surrender by Emma Weimann, Published by Ylva Publishing
  • Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 by Rachel Windsor, Self-Published
  • Escapades by MJ Williamz, Published by Bold Strokes Books

Historical Fiction

  • Tangled Roots by Marianne K. Martin, Published by Bywater Books
  • Waiting for the Violins by Justine Saracen, Published by Bold Strokes Books
  • Bright Lights of Summer by Lynn Ames, Published by Phoenix Rising Press


  • The Acquittal by Ann Laughlin, Published by Bold Strokes Books
  • Left Field: Lillian Byrd Crime Series Book 5 by Elizabeth Sims, Published by Spruce Park Press
  • The Consequence of Murder by Nene Adams, Published by Bella Books


  • The Magic Hunt by L.L. Raand, Published by Bold Strokes Books
  • The Devil You Know by Marie Castle, Published by Bella Books
  • Dogs of War by Geonn Cannon, Published by Supposed Crimes


  • Undone EM Hodge, Published by Sapphire Books Publishing
  • kissing keeps us afloat by Laurie MacFayden, Frontenac House

Romantic Suspense/Intrigue/Adventure

  • The One by JM Dragon, Published by Affinity Ebooks Press NZ Ltd
  • Sharpshooter by Julie Murrah, Published by Sapphire Books Publishing
  • Switchblade by Carsen Taite, Published by Bold Strokes Books

Science Fiction/Fantasy

  • FutureDyke by Lea Daley, Published by Bella Books
  • Return of an Impetuous Pilot by Kate McLachlan, Published by Regal Crest Enterprises
  • Rabbits of the Apocalypse by Benny Lawrence, Published by Bedazzled Ink

Traditional Contemporary Romance

  • Kiss the Girl by Melissa Brayden, Published by Bold Strokes Books
  • Nightingale by Andrea Bramhall, Published by Bold Strokes Books
  • The Midnight Moon by Gerri Hill, Published by Bella Books

Young Adult

  • Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall, Published by Sky Pony Press
  • Riding the Rainbow by Genta Sebastian, Self-Published
  • Just Girls by Rachel Gold, Published by Bella Books

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Olive Oil & White Bread by Georgia Beers

Publisher:       Bywater Books

A straight person would not write this book. It wouldn’t occur to him or her that there was a need to write a book about a couple that meets, falls in love, and has a completely normal life that spans a long relationship. Where is the story in that? Well, Nicholas Sparks might write it, but it would be short and poignant.

Gay people don’t usually write these books either. Their books are about “hot young things” consumed with sexy encounters that may turn into relationships, and that is usually where the story ends. Sometimes they throw in a message with the story and a romance. Or they write mysteries, supernatural stories, space adventures or whatever the genre and the main characters are made lesbian or gay, but really don’t need to be. Basically, the reader is getting a straight story with gay/lesbian characters and the readers like that because they can relate to the characters. That’s fine.

Then there are exceptions like Olive Oil & White Bread. There is nothing extraordinary about Angie Righetti and Jillian Clark. One is a salesperson and the other teaches elementary art. They fall in love, buy a house, then buy another house, acquire a dog, deal with family events (happy and sad) and confront what can happen to a relationship when it’s taken for granted instead of nurtured. That is what makes the book worth reading. The reader gets to see the couple grow together and apart and back together. They deal with situations everyone faces - the death and aging of parents, the differences in families and the struggle to balance work with home. There are the crushing effects of the losses of a beloved pet and a life-long friend. In other words, these are just normal people going about their lives. And that is what makes this book important.

If you have friends, family or anyone who “just doesn’t get” what gay people are about; if they don’t understand the importance of gay marriage; if they think gay people are a threat or different or whatever, this is the book you want to give them. This is the book that will show them that gay people don’t have wild and perverse sex lives (at least not all of them), they buy houses in the suburbs, love and screw up. In other words, they’re just normal.

Georgia Beers has many strengths as a writer. She’s written outstanding romances, poignant stories based on 9-11 and won awards for her books. Olive Oil & White Bread may be her gift for the gay community to the rest of the world though. It proves there just isn’t that much difference between us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tangled Roots by Marianne K. Martin

Publisher:                   Bywater Books

A good book has engaging characters and a plot that holds the reader’s interest. An outstanding book takes those attributes and adds a message, teaches a lesson or allows the reader to understand something that may not have been clear to that person before. An author rises to the top of a genre and gains the respect of the people who read those books by developing this ability. Marianne Martin has produced a string of award winning books because she spends her time writing carefully, researching the topic and going over the book to make sure it is in the best form possible before it is released. Martin also isn’t afraid to tackle difficult topics, which is abundantly clear in Tangled Roots, the prequel to her earlier work, Under the Witness Tree.

Tangled Roots is set in a period of US history that was almost as stressful as the civil war it followed.  Many of the characters remember that war and the period of adjustments that followed it. Those changes led to others that will sweep in the Progressive movement, a time when many people, especially women and African Americans, hoped that true justice and political equality would be achieved for everyone. Jim Crow laws, the Ku Klux Klan and lynching battled with the creation of the NAACP and the eloquence of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. The stifling concept of women as nothing but breeders and homemakers was confronted by the steely determination of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul for women to have greater opportunities. The conflict in the book comes between those who cannot accept the new ideas and those who yearn for them.

The story focuses on Addy Grayson, her granddaughter Anna and Anna’s best friend Nessie, a descendent of the slaves who once worked for the Graysons. Addy survived the Civil War, but questions whether she has the energy to deal with raising her granddaughters and confronting their bigoted father. She is rejuvenated when a younger woman introduces her to new ideas and she finds the ability to finally deal with an old secret. Anna and Nessie begin as two little girls who like to play with each other and share dreams. They don’t recognize the racial divide that both of their families keep throwing in their ways until they are older, but they share the frustration of being told that women can’t have the lives they hope to pursue. They are caught up in the stresses of their time, the expectations of both families and the growing awareness that their childhood love has turned into something much deeper and forbidden. Addy is the pillar they both lean on.

Tangled Roots is a compact novel. It’s hard to believe that Martin deals with so many complex issues in just over 200 pages. She’s able to do so because she chooses her words and her scenes carefully. This isn’t meant to be a history of the period, but a snippet, the events as seen through the eyes of her three main characters. Martin avoids the trap of wandering around addressing issues that were important to the time, but not to her story. Yet there is a richness in the scenes that comes off of the pages and leads the reader to have a beginning understanding of what this period and these women were about. This is the type of book that is not too heavy to bog down people in the many conflicts of the period, but that leads readers to other books and resources to find out what else happened during this time of drama and change, triumph and dreams deferred.

Marianne Martin has written a book that weaves a tapestry of history and romance with the lives of the characters. It will cause the reader to think, but not to feel that she’s been lectured to. Don’t let its size fool you. There is a lot to be absorbed here. An outstanding book has engaging characters, an interesting plot and leads its reader to greater knowledge. Tangled Roots certainly does all of that.