Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The straitening of LGBT characters in YA

While you're waiting for the next Literally Lesbian book review (coming later this week!), read this great article from Autostraddle!

"Regardless of veracity, the conversation has indeed begun, and perhaps there’s still time for it to be redirected. Gay teens are more visible on television than ever before, and a large reason for that is how vocal the LGBT community has been about needing that representation. Can we make the same change for LGBT literature? I think we can.

I predict, based on nothing besides my own psychic instincts, we’re going to see the numbers of LGBT-identifying high schoolers skyrocket over the next five years and this is a huge opportunity for the LGBT YA market."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jennifer Weiner Listened to Me! The Review

Look! I'm back! This is what happens when all of you lovely ladies put out the word that my super secret alternate identity, Murdock Editing, is looking for new submissions. I love you all, and much thanks!

Now, if you'll recall, back when Ms. Jodie Picoult came out with her latest novel, I asked here and on Twitter what mainstream author you'd like to see write a lesbian character. I got loads of responses, but I held fast to my favorite - I wanted a lesbian written by the wonderful Jennifer Weiner.

And then it happened. 

Weiner's new novel, And Then Came You, is, like all of her books, gorgeously crafted and perfectly written. It's the kind of book you want to stretch out with in the sun or curl up with in bed. Told from the point of view of three women: a surrogate, an egg donor, and a woman desperate to have a child, the story loops through the twists of fate that bring them all together without ignoring the vast differences that set them apart.


Now, I know we all get a little nervous when a (I assume) straight lady with such a wide following writes about one of our own, fictional or not. Will she seem real or familiar? Will she just go back to the dude in the end? Will she just be desperate for a baby? (Please, please, authors, stop writing this trope - we get it. We want babies. All of us. It's the only thing we ever think about. Nice to meet you! Hey, wanna go on a date? Can we have a baby now?)

But Weiner handles her lesbian with such grace that you just have to assume her bestie is one of us. Jules, one of our new favorite lesbian characters (can someone get on making this into a movie, please?), is NOT the I-need-a-baby-now-where-is-the-sperm stereotype. Instead, she's a complex and full character choosing to donate her eggs to help another woman - and save her family. And yes, she comes out during over the course of the novel, but it isn't a moment of High! Lesbian! Outing! Drama! It's quiet and hopeful. And Ms. Weiner goes so far to let our girl have sex with her partner, and even that is far from salacious - it's beautiful and tender and exactly what we always dreamed would happen with that best friend we had a crush on once-upon-a-time.

If you haven't already purchased this book, do it now. Do it right here. Because while we love to support our fellow lesbian writers, we also need to support our sisters who are supporting us by adding us into their stories like it ain't no thang. Weiner handles a story that feels familiar and true with such aplomb that I'm giving her the Literally Lesbian Book of the Month award. Sit back, read, and enjoy.

Oh, and if you haven't come out to your mother yet, and she happens to be fan of Chick Lit, send her a copy too - Jennifer Weiner will teach her just how to handle it. (Note: I sent a copy to my mother even though I've been out for ages - never hurts to see one of her favorite authors show us some love!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fun with Blogger Stats: Traffic Sources

(image from Enchanted Designs)

Dear Reader,

You searched for "mermaids and dragons wallpaper." How on EARTH did you end up here???

But, you gotta give the reader what she wants, so, here.

Literally Lesbian

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fun With Blogger Traffic Sources

My current favorite search that will get you here: "hipster dykes."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jennifer Weiner Listened to Me!

I am so excited! I just finished reading Jennifer Weiner's latest novel Then Came You

As some of you may remember, back in [mumblemumblemumble I'll look this up later], I asked my lovely readers and twitter followers which mainstream author they'd like to see write a lesbian novel. One of my top picks was none other than the very talented Ms. Weiner.


It's not exactly a "lesbian novel" per se, but two of the main characters are, yes, really, lesbians.

Obviously, a full review will follow shortly. In the meantime, add this one to our Lesbian Summer Reading List.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Come the heck on, George! A Review of A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five by George R.R. Martin

NOTE: I will keep this short and sweet, as the author in question is not gay (to my knowledge), nor is he a woman, so he most certainly is not a lesbian, nor is this a lesbian book. I apologize in advance to any of you lovely ladies who are disappointed by his inclusion on our special space. But, in my defense, there's some lesbo action earlier in the series, so...okay?

Background: I was reading the Game of Thrones series BEFORE it came out on HBO.

I LOVED THEM. These are some looooong books, and I read all four pretty much back-to-back, with some pauses in between for fab lezzie lit. And then I joined the many, many, many readers who were waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the long promised fifth book. Finally, on July 12th, A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five by George R.R. Martin was released. I had it on my Kindle first thing in the AM, and started reading that night. I finished the 1,040th page Saturday night.

George, George, George. What happened, dude? This is...this is not good. It's just not. What happened to all of the awesome, powerful women? What happened to ANY of the plot lines you set up in this and the other novels? I mean, some people die, but NOTHING ELSE IS RESOLVED. Nothing! Now, I'll probably read the next one if there is a next one, just in hopes that maybe something will actually happen. But I won't be excited about it. And I'll probably wait for some other poor sap to put a review out first just to make sure I'm not going to want to throw the book across the room when I finish it (throwing books across the room, although a time-honored tradition, is not a good thing when you do the majority of your reading on a Kindle).

Plus, no lezzie action in this book. Sad for me.

Note to series authors of the future: If you're tired of your characters and their battles, just tell us that and move on. Don't give us something like this. Just don't. Ugh.

Thanks for letting me vent, dear readers! Later this week, Part Two of the Lesbian Summer Reading List!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good Lord It Is Really, Really, Really Hot Out There: Lesbian Summer Reading List, Part One

Step one: install an air conditioner in at least one room of your home/apartment. I suggest doing this during the day, before consuming a gin and tonic, as I decided to use my massive (read: pitiful) dyke strength at ELEVEN PM to carry the 100lb beast upstairs to my bedroom and install it all by myself. I broke a bookshelf. But at least it was cool. 

Step two: Make yourself one of the drinks shown above. 

Step three: Start reading these cool and/or steamy books from our very own lesbian summer reading list! (Please feel free to add your additions in the comments.)


Times Two: Two Women in Love and the Happy Family They Made by Kristen Henderson and Sarah Ellis

"TO EVERY GOOD LOVE STORY, THERE IS A TWIST. Times Two is about two women meeting, falling madly in love, and realizing that they are so crazy about each other that they want to have a family together. The fact that they both get pregnant at the exact same time is where things start to get interesting."

Seeking Sara Summers by Susan Gabriel

"In a rare moment of taking care of herself instead of everyone else, Sara takes a sabbatical and goes on the trip to Italy she has always dreamed of taking. This search for a more authentic life leads to Julia, a friend she hasn’t seen since they were inseparable as girls, nearly 30 years earlier. They reunite in Florence and their friendship continues where they left off, resulting in an unexpected attraction to one another that threatens to turn Sara’s already shaky world upside down."


Conquest by Ronica Black 

"What Jude Jaeger seeks is simple. What she needs is complicated. Woman. She has one a night at Conquest, sometimes two. And she gives them what no one else can or will. Pleasure. But outside the club, Jude isn’t interested in women, keeping them at arm’s length. That is until she’s meets Mary, a woman who responds to her touch like none of the others. When Mary shows up at the college where Jude teaches, all the emotions Jude thought she could live without come rushing back stronger than ever.

Mary Brunelle is a socially awkward loner who goes to a private club and finds herself in the arms of a beautiful stranger who conquers every last inch of her and then disappears into the night. Mary tries to find her, desperately wanting to see her again, but has no success until one day in class she looks up to see that the mystery woman is there. And she’s her professor. Mary soon sets forth on her own conquest, but can she tame the ultimate dominatrix?"

Lesbian Pulp Fiction: The Sexually Intrepid World of Lesbian Paperback Novels 1950-1965 by Katherine V. Forrest

"Long before the rise of the modern gay movement, an unnoticed literary revolution was occurring between the covers of the cheaply produced lesbian pulp paperbacks of the post–World War II era. In 1950, publisher Fawcett Books founded its Gold Medal imprint, inaugurating the reign of lesbian pulp fiction. These were the books that small-town lesbians and prurient men bought by the millions — cheap, easy to find in drugstores, and immediately recognizable by their lurid covers: often a hard-looking brunette standing over a scantily clad blonde, or a man gazing in tormented lust at a lovely, unobtainable lesbian. For women leading straight lives, here was confirmation that they were not alone and that darkly glamorous, "gay" places like Greenwich Village existed. Some — especially those written by lesbians — offered sympathetic and realistic depictions of "life in the shadows," while others (no less fun to read now) were smutty, sensational tales of innocent girls led astray. In the overheated prose typical of the genre, this collection documents the emergence of a lesbian subculture in postwar America."

That should get you started for now - more coming next week! Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go chase down the ice cream truck. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Adventures in Google Searches

To the woman (I'm assuming) who found my blog by googling "Pinot Grigio Lesbian" - please contact me here or via twitter. I MUST know what you were actually looking for, and I think I maybe love you.

ALSO! New post next week - a femme reads Ivan E. Coyote. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gorgeous Women Reading Books

Dorothy Surrenders, we love you.

Go here for the full post (believe me, it's worth it!).

"Books on Figuring Out if Your [sic] Gay"

Blogging tools are dangerously addictive. Not only do they tell me that a bunch of you lovely lesbian ladies are from Russia. Hello! Also, tumbler is apparently amazing, and I should get on that.

But the BEST time waster is following the Google search terms that get you here. Usually they're pretty unsurprising: "lesbian book review blogs" or "is huntress a lesbian book."

Yesterday, however, we had a visit from a new member of the tribe, who found us by googling "books on figuring out if your gay."


This is, honestly, a sort of awesome question - if you think you might be gay, what could you read to "find out?"

As I've admitted on this blog, I had my first "aha, oh, I'm a lesbian, that makes so much sense" moment after watching But I'm a Cheerleader. Seriously. I know. Also, any excuse to post that gif.

Fiction gives you access to a world outside your own daily life, and what you find there can alter the way you perceive everything.

So, I have a few recommendations, because that is what I do. First of all, watch But I'm a Cheerleader and read a few issues of Curve. Then, give these books a go:

It Gets Better. Not fiction, but you may see yourself in the experiences of others. Or you might not. Either way, everyone on the gay-lesbian-queer-questioning-trans spectrum should read this book. (Questioning - that's you! You're included!)

Another Life Altogether. Review here. Gorgeously written and captures that sense that something amazing and wonderful and maybe a little (maybe a lot) scary is different about you.

Map of Ireland. Review (listicle, actually) here. A different kind of coming of age story, but just as valid and poignant.


Stone Butch Blues. Recommended by our favorite butch blogger, Bren of Buzzcuts and Bustiers.

And you, dear readers? What books would you recommended to our new friend? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @litlesbian, and I'll be sure to share!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

THE BIG LESBIAN SUMMER PROJECT (So many exclamation points...)

Announcement time! We're writing a book! You! And me! And it's going to be amazing!

But we need money to do it, and thanks to Kickstarter, where there's a will, there's a way. Yes this means I'll be occasionally begging like an NPR fudraiser. I'm sorry. But, it's only for a month, and in the meantime, I promise one new lesbian book review per week!

Please support (and join in on) this project, tentatively titled "Create and publish the best damn lesbian novel ever written" because we don't really do subtlety around these parts. 

And, like NPR, you get gifts when you donate!

  • Special access as the book is written!
  • Name one of the characters after your lady love! Or, even better, after your ex. 
  • A night out on the town! With me! I'm so much fun. C'mon, my hobby is reviewing lesbian books. HOW COULD I NOT BE FUN?

And much more...

The basics:

So you're a lesbian, or you like lesbians. And you read books about lesbians, just like all of us over on Literally Lesbian Book Review
Join the editor of Literally Lesbian (that's me!) as we crowdsource the characters, plot, and "new lesbian fiction rules" to create your new favorite lesbian novel. 
The Rules (so far):
  • Not all the lesbians are ladies who pass as straight ladies! Crazy!
  • Gold star lesbians present and included!
  • No one is trying to get pregnant! 
  • There are butches! And they date femmes! And other butches!
  • Women of color!
  • No one comes out of the closet! Shockingly, the gays know they're gay and the straights know they're straight before the story begins.
How it works
  • If we're fully funded by June 1, the project website will launch, and the writing/planning process will begin. 
  • Your writer promises one chapter completed per week. Ten dollars gets you access to the writing as it's completed. (Ugly as it may be. Seriously, first drafts are terrible and awesome in a can't look away car wreck kind of way.) 
  • Beyond the rewards below, followers of Literally Lesbian on twitter (@litlesbian) and followers of the project blog will be invited to weigh in on plot/character/scene development and add their own twists and turns. 
  • The first draft will be completed by September 1, 2011. Then on to revisions. Query letters will go out no later than January 15. If we find a publisher, wonderful! You'll get updates as that process progresses. No publisher? No problem! We'll self-publish it and have copies available no later than June 2012. 
Thank you in advance for all your lezzie love and support - we're going to have a grand old time this summer!
PS: Have an idea for a reward you don't see here? Contact me here or tweet it to me @litlesbian.

Please support the project and spread the word! 
We love word spreading!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Literally Lesbian Review: Malinda Lo's Huntress

Note: This review is safe for all audiences and is Completely Spoiler Free, as I have been informed that Huntress is not yet in bookstores outside the U.S., and many of you are from the UK, Australia, and Russia. Lezzie love to all of you!

I’ll admit it: I have a crush on Malinda Lo. She was one of my favorite writers for AfterEllen (you can read her articles here), and then she went and wrote and published Ash, a lesbian twist on the classic Cinderella tale.

And now she’s back with Huntress, which I read in one glorious responsibility-free weekend, and it was scrumptious in a way only YA can be. (It goes very well with warm Spring afternoons and a cold glass of Pinot Grigio. Okay, a cold bottle of Pinot Grigio.) It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly worth your time, and it belongs in every school library in the world.

First though, let’s talk about the problems. I edit a great deal of Young Adult fantasy fiction (I have absolutely no idea how I fell into this particular niche market, but life is strange and wonderful), so I already spend a decent amount of time immersed in this market. 

Huntress suffers from a nagging issue plaguing the YA world: Book Number One Syndrome. I could be wrong (and Malinda, please feel free to correct me and make my life by letting me know you actually read my blog), but I got the distinct impression that one of two things happened here.

  1. This book is the first book in a pre-plotted series, so Ms. Lo held back on some of the action for the purposes of setting up the next book. Or
  2.  The book was originally much longer, but was cut into two books, the second of which we’ll see as a sequel sometime next year.

After a rip-roaring start, the book stalls in the middle, and the end is a bit of a muddle, with a brand new plot line popping up in the last few pages.

All that said, it’s a good read, and you should do your duty and buy it for all the baby dykes in your life today. If you’ve been reading Literally Lesbian since the (problematic) beginning, you know my feelings on the ridiculous number of coming out plotlines in Lesbian Literature. Malinda has created a world in which coming out isn’t even an issue for her coming-of-age characters, and that’s something to celebrate.

In the world of Huntress (and Ash), kissing/liking/falling in love with girls is no big thing and is treated like any other kiss/crush/love. And considering this book was published by Little Brown, a major YA publisher, that is a very, very big deal. It’s a world we all wish we grew up in, and that we hope for the future – when a seventeen-year-old girl doesn’t bat an eye when she falls in love with another girl, because really, why not? There are fairies to fight!

Description from Malinda Lo's website:

"Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Taninli, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.
The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo’s highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coming soon...

Did you know Malinda Lo has a new book out? I did not until helpful twitter follower @SeleneCoulter suggested it for our next review. Thank you! Before you could say "lesbian fairies" I had the book downloaded to my Kindle and started contemplating what wine would go best with Huntress.(Also, have you read Ash yet? You should.)

Also, did you know you can help support my Lesbian Literature addiction/hobby? There are over SEVENTEEN-HUNDRED of you following the Literally Lesbian now, and I love EVERY ONE of you. You can either click on any of the amazon-bound links to do a little shopping OR you can donate via that cute little PayPal button up on the right.

Also, there's a BIG EXCITING LESBIAN PROJECT coming up, which I'll hopefully be announcing in the next few days, so stay tuned!

And last but not least, while you're reading Lesbian blogs, check out a couple more:

Buzzcuts and Bustiers (Full disclosure, this blog is new, but I kinda know Bren in real life, and definitely in internet life, and she is awesome.)

Tales from a Rubbish Lesbian (It's oddly addictive - check out the Lesbian Fails page)

And if you're in the donating mood, you should go donate to AutoStraddle and their awesome fund-drive, because I would die if they shut down.


You should also be reading The Lesbrary and Fuck Yeah Lesbian Literature.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bazillion-Book-Selling Author Jodi Picoult Writes Lesbians: A Review of Sing You Home

Let me be upfront here. I downloaded this book onto my Kindle for one reason and one reason only: if a bestselling, straight lady author was going to take on gay lady issues, I needed to know if she could hack it. I needed to know how she was representing us to the Picoult cult of readers. 

Now, I have the utmost respect for Ms. Picoult - anyone who can sell that many books wins, no questions asked. And I've never been one to shy away from a good trashy/beach read (see the review of Sweet Valley Confidential below). But I have never, for some reason, been able to stomach Ms. Picoult's brand of writing. It just wasn't for me. But, with you, my dear readers, in mind, I decided I'd take one for the team. I'd read Sing You Home so you didn't have to!

So, can Jodi write lesbians? 

Surprisingly? Yes. 

Sort of. 

A very specific kind of lesbian, who we shall refer to as the "Ready for Prime Time Lesbian" (RFPTL).

Qualities of RFPTLs:

  • Pretty ladies who pass as straight ladies. Check!
  • Ladies who have previously dated men and therefore are not man haters? Check!
  • Ladies who obviously want to have babies, because that is what good ladies do even if they are lesbians? Check!
  • Femmes dating other femmes, or maybe one is androgynous kinda, but no butches? Check!
  • White. Obviously. Check!

Of course there are many more qualifications (please feel free to add them in the comments), but if you haven't been living under a rock lately, you know what kind of lesbian characters I'm talking about. 

Now, I know lots of lesbians who take umbrage with the fact that RFPTLs are the only ones portrayed in the media, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I respect Picoult's decision here. She's no Ilene Chaiken. She's a straight lady who writes, primarily, for other straight ladies. RFPTLs are "ready for prime time" precisely because they are so relatable to the audience. They aren't out there gender bending or rabble rousing. They are...familiar. Safe. And while that's a cultural problem many of us may choose to take on, Picoult isn't playing for our team. 

But she does support the team in Sing You Home. And she's obviously done her research. I kept waiting for the AHA! moment, when I'd read something so utterly inauthentic that I'd have an excuse to hurl the book against the wall, angrily pound out a post here at Literally Lesbian, and call it a day. 

But I didn't. I honestly believed that these characters were lesbians. In fact, both of them (because obviously there are only two lesbians in this world) reminded me of lesbians I've known, loved, or, let's be honest here, been. 

Which isn't to say this book won't make you, a real live lesbian, roll your eyes. These ladies put most U-Haulers to shame. But, overall, if you've got a high tolerance for RFPTLs, it might not be a bad book to pick up for a beach read or to give to your mom who is still processing your sexuality and the likelihood of you giving her grandchildren (I bought my mother a copy about five minutes after I finished reading it). At the same time, if you pass, you're really not missing anything groundbreaking. 


This book comes with a soundtrack of folksy songs written by Ms. Picoult. You can listen to them on her website or right on your iPad if you have one. 


A songwriter, Ms. Picoult is not. 

Zoe Baxter has spent ten years trying to get pregnant, and after multiple miscarriages and infertility issues, it looks like her dream is about to come true – she is seven months pregnant. But a terrible turn of events leads to a nightmare – one that takes away the baby she has already fallen for; and breaks apart her marriage to Max.
In the aftermath, she throws herself into her career as a music therapist – using music clinically to soothe burn victims in a hospital; to help Alzheimer’s patients connect with the present; to provide solace for hospice patients. When Vanessa – a guidance counselor -- asks her to work with a suicidal teen, their relationship moves from business to friendship and then, to Zoe’s surprise, blossoms into love. When Zoe allows herself to start thinking of having a family, again, she remembers that there are still frozen embryos that were never used by herself and Max.
Meanwhile, Max has found peace at the bottom of a bottle – until he is redeemed by an evangelical church, whose charismatic pastor – Clive Lincoln – has vowed to fight the “homosexual agenda” that has threatened traditional family values in America. But this mission becomes personal for Max, when Zoe and her same-sex partner say they want permission to raise his unborn child.
SING YOU HOME explores what it means to be gay in today’s world, and how reproductive science has outstripped the legal system. Are embryos people or property? What challenges do same-sex couples face when it comes to marriage and adoption? What happens when religion and sexual orientation – two issues that are supposed to be justice-blind – enter the courtroom? And most importantly, what constitutes a “traditional family” in today’s day and age?
Also – in a very unique move – readers will get to literally hear Zoe Baxter’s voice. I am collaborating with Ellen Wilber, a dear friend who is also a very talented musician, to create a CD of original songs, which will correspond to each of the chapters. This CD will be packaged with each hardcover book. So – literally – stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Lesbian Fiction Visibility is Important: A Visual

Go ahead and do this little experiment yourself. Login to Amazon. Choose Kindle ebooks. Then choose Gay and Lesbian. Over 90% of the titles in the first five pages are gay-man fiction. The only lesbian titles? Erotica (not that there's anything wrong with that!). Lesbian writers, where are you???

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jodi Picoult - Can she write lesbians?

Stay tuned to find out!

Sweet Valley Confidential: SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS - click away if you don't want SPOILERS

Also, click away if you didn't read the Sweet Valley books as a youth, because really, this book is only worth reading if you can get the nostalgia going strong.

Yes, yes I know this is not a gay book. Nor is it a lesbian book. There is not a lesbian to be found in the entire damn thing, and it wasn't even written by a lesbian. So we'll keep this short and sweet.

But! How utterly, horribly disappointed were you to find out which character was gay? Every since the blind item slithered its way onto the internets that dear Francine Pascal was going to out one of our Sweet Valley friends, I had one wish, and one wish only.

Let it be Lila. Please, please, let it be Lila, with her long dark hair and crazy bitchy attitude. I was thinking Power Lesbian Lila. Bette Porter Lila. Suits! Vests! The new "it girl" in the lesbians-control-the-world scene. And Elizabeth would walk in on Lila topping some young thing in stilettos. I would have been equally thrilled to have Lila show up to a party with a fabulous butch on her arm - delish.

But no. (Spoiler alert) It was Steve. STEVE. Steve? I'll be honest, I barely even remember Steve from the original series. Was he even in Sweet Valley University? And so now he's gay. Which, yanno, good for him, but no one cares. Really, even in the book it's a throw-away plotline, obviously inserted just to add a little buzz and make us all think that Lila might be gay.

If you read the SV books when you were young, read Sweet Valley Confidential - it's a quick easy trashy read, best enjoyed with a cocktail or glass of wine in hand, and enough fun to be worth it. It also makes for great party talk among a certain generation. ("Can you believe what Jessica did??? What a bitch? And Todd! Don't even get me started on Todd! And why was Lila not gay?")

*Yes, that photo up above is of my hard copy of Sweet Valley Confidential. Which I purchased. I own a hard copy Sweet Valley book at the age of...well, not twelve.

There's something in my eye...

We all spent last September weeping and smiling over the surge of It Gets Better videos, and now we have the book too.

My lovely friend Bren, the new author/editor/blogger extraordinaire of Buzz Cuts and Bustiers has added her story, and it's a more than welcome addition. Perhaps have a few tissues handy, then click the link, save her to your favorites, and leave her your feelings in the comments.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Win a copy of Another Life Altogether (see the amazing review below). Just answer the question (in the comments or via Twitter): what's your favorite lesbian novel? CAVEAT: It cannot be a book already mentioned in the blog.

Winner will be chosen at random from entries.

Hooray for free books!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Elaine Beale, Another Life Altogether

Back Cover Copy: "A keenly observed depiction of the effects of a mother’s mental illness on her young daughter, Another Life Altogether is a profoundly moving, funny, and ultimately heartrending coming-of-age story.

After years of living in the shadow of her mother’s mental illness, thirteen-year-old Jesse Bennett is given a fresh chance at happiness when her family moves to a village in northern England. But just as it seems that she might be able to build a perfect life for herself after befriending two of her new school’s most popular girls, her mother’s worsening mental state and the secret Jesse fiercely guards about herself threaten to destroy her fragile stability. Caught in the storm of her mother’s moods, her father’s desperation, and her classmates’ cruel social hierarchies, Jesse is forced to choose between doing what’s right and preserving her hope for a normal life.

At the heart of a maddening, eccentric, and ultimately lovable family—from her manic mother and her long-suffering father, to her blowsy Aunt Mabel and Uncle Ted, a comically inept criminal—Jesse is an utterly sympathetic narrator who navigates the ups and downs of adolescence with insight, emotional vulnerability, and a wickedly sharp sense of humor. Alternately hilarious and heartbreaking, Another Life Altogether marks the arrival of an immensely gifted novelist."

I've said again and again that all I'm really looking for is a great lesbian novel that has nothing to do with coming-of-age or coming out. 

I take it all back when it comes to this book. Lesbians of the world, add this to your cannon of Books We All Have to Read Right Now. 

I've been meaning to review this novel for months now, ever since I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Beale this summer. I was on vacation and already had a stack of lez-tastic novels in my bag ready to go, but after hearing Ms. Beale read a chapter from her book, I was hooked. I marched right up, bought a copy, got her lovely signature, and took that book down to the lakefront, where I promptly tore through about half of it before I was forced to go eat something. I believe I finished it the next day.

As you'd have guessed from my little intro, this book does include plenty of coming-of-age and a dose of coming out as well. But Ms. Beale's voice is magnetic, and her characters so finely drawn and achingly real that I was half sure I'd met all of them at one time or another in my life. 

I don't think I'm going too far to say that this debut novel renewed my faith in the genre this summer and encouraged me to rededicate myself to this blog and to promoting lesbian writers and their books. Because if you have ever been a young lesbian with a slightly-to-extremely dysfunctional family (you there, in the back, come on, raise your hand with the rest of us), you will enjoy this book. 

Still wavering? Go to Ms. Beale's website and listen to her read you the first chapter of the book (complete with intoxicating British accent). Like me, I doubt you'll want to resist after that. 

Buy the book at Amazon.

Are you a lesbian writer and/or writer of lesbian fiction with a manuscript you want to share with the world? Need a little help first? Not getting the literary agent or publisher attention you were hoping for? Know it needs work but no idea where to start and you just want to toss the whole thing in the grill and set fire to it? Pop over to www.murdockediting.blogspot.com and make the acquaintance of an editor who is dying to use her literary talents to help you bring another lesbian gem to the world. (Hint: it's me.)

Friday, February 4, 2011


Win a copy of the next book I review* by answering the following question:

What author (gay or straight) do you really wish would write a novel with lesbian protagonists? 

I'm halfway through Alice Hoffman's latest, The Red Garden, and damn, can this lady write. I always look forward to her books (although my favorite is still The Third Angel), and I would give...well, I'd give up my Kindle **gasp** to read Awesome Lesbians Doing Awesome, Slightly Magical Surreal Things by Alice Hoffman.

*Sent within the continental U.S. only - sorry my lovely global readers! I love you too!

So You're a Gay Lady... (Literally Lesbian Books You Really Should Have Read By Now if You're a Lady Who Likes Ladies (TM))

So, you're a gay lady, a lesbian if you will. Maybe you're a proud, card-carrying dyke. Maybe you're utterly closeted and reading Curve magazine with your bedroom door locked late at night (Hi, 16-year-old me! We should talk!). No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you want to read like a lesbian. 

That's why we're here!

To kick off the re-opening of this blog and give you something to read while I dive into the next les-tastic novel on my reading list, here's the first five books on my Literally Lesbian Books You Really Should Have Read By Now if You're a Lady Who Likes Ladies (TM)!

(The Coming Out/Figuring Out You're Gay After Watching But I'm A Cheerleader Edition)

(1) Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson

Where it all began for more than a few of us, I'd imagine...

Winner of the Whitbread Prize for best first fiction, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a coming-out novel from Winterson, the acclaimed author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. The narrator, Jeanette, cuts her teeth on the knowledge that she is one of God’s elect, but as this budding evangelical comes of age, and comes to terms with her preference for her own sex, the peculiar balance of her God-fearing household crumbles.

(2) Odd Girl Out, by Ann Bannon.

Start here, then read everything by our friend Ann - enormously delicious pulp, even if it is a little out of date. 

In the 1950s, Ann Bannon broke through the shame and isolation typically portrayed in lesbian pulps, offering instead women characters who embraced their sexuality. With Odd Girl Out, Bannon introduces Laura Landon, whose love affair with her college roommate Beth launched the lesbian pulp fiction genre.

(3) Map of Ireland, by Stephanie Grant

A sad, sweet, gorgeously written novel set in the early days of bussing in Boston - I'm fairly certain I've dated the main character in at least two incarnations, so you probably have too. 

(4) Annie on my Mind, by Nancy Garden

A little corny, a little dated, but still erotic and a damn good read. 

(5) Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters

If you came out sometime between yesterday and 1998, you should have been issued a copy of this book along with your black vest, flannel shirt, and L-Word DVDs. If you haven't read Sarah Waters yet, grab a few bottles of wine and settle in for the ride.