>> from the library ofcongress in washington, dc. >> nicholas brown:good morning everyone. hello. welcome to thelibrary of congress. i think this is one of the highestproportions of out of towners at the lc globe even that we'veever had, which is really exciting. so, thank you all forvisiting the library. and thanks to the librarystaff for coming out today. for those who don't know me orhaven't been on my recent tour, my name is nick brown, i'm thechair or library of congress globe,
which is the library'slgbtq employee association. i'm also a music specialistshere at the library which is why i get paid thebig bucks i guess somehow. it's a great honor to be working with the golden crown literarysociety and their annual conference for the event today, whichis an author's spotlight. going to feature fourauthors that are members and involved in the society. lc globe has been very involvedin pride programming here
at the library, and thisis our concluding event. i know it's beyond june, butpride is needed every day, especially this year,so we keep on going. we really appreciate all ofyou being here to learn more about what lesbian fiction is. and to hear some really good workread by award-winning authors who are representing areally great genre of writing that the library hasn'tperhaps addressed in a public program before.
so just some housekeeping notesfor you, before a colleague from the golden crown literarysociety will do the introductions, this is being filmed for thelibrary's digital collection and for being released online. so be ready for that. the format of the event willbe about 10 minutes of readings from each of the four authors and then we'll do a groupdiscussion after that and q&a. and concluding the eventwill be book signing,
which will take placeactually up here, and you can purchasethe books in the back. we have three of the authorsrepresented with books back there and the prices at $13 and $15 andyou can pay with cash or card. so, that's exciting. we hope you support the authors by buying their books,or not [laughter]. you are allowed to getthem out of the library. i'm a library type right, soi know, but i'm not allowed
to be a salesman, officiallyon duty. so, i bought them alreadyso there you have it. so, without further ado, oractually before i introduce mary, a couple things i'd liketo draw your attention to. in the back, there's a nicelittle prideful bookmark that tells you a bit aboutour lgbtq collections. there's also a copy of ourlatest issue of "the library of congress gazette" inwhich you can read a bit about out lgbtq collectionsdevelopment work that is ongoing
and getting a kick in the pantslately as a result of the efforts of many people in this room. so, check that out. also, check out our pridemonth portal, loc.gov/lgbt. one day we will get the q in there. and then also if you want tokeep in touch with lc globe and our fabulous communityhere at the library, visit our facebook group whichis facebook.com/group/lcglobe. and we're also on twitterat lc_globe.
great. so, i'm going to introducemary phillips who's going to speak a bit about the goldencrown literary society on behalf of the board and alsointroduce the four authors. so, thank you. [ applause ] >> mary phillips: good morningeverybody and thanks for coming. i'm mary phillips. i'm the executive director of thegolden crown literary society. and for those of you who don'tknow about this society, it is;
our mission is to educate, promote and recognize some fantasticauthors of lesbian literature. be it fiction, nonfiction, poetry. anything written byand for lesbians, or for anyone for that matter. and one of our premiere programsthat we have to help in the area of education, is ourwriting academy. and we will have some brochuresback there for you to pick up. the goal of this programis to give aspiring authors
and current authors additionalopportunities to master their craft. we have professors, academicprofessors who teach our program. we have content experts who come in. whatever you need to know about thefbi, or whatever you need to know about health, and nutritionand medical. we have content experts withinour membership that participate in panels, etcetera to help you getmore information for what you need for that book you'reaspiring to write. so, that is our writing academy.
we also have a conferenceevery year, annually. and this year we're here in dc. and what a great time to be here. we are loud and proud [laughter]. and so, with us today are fourmembers from our literary society. wonderful authors. great friends. and i'm really gladthat they offered up their time to come and do this.
we have jewelle gomez. and should they come on up now, okayjust come on up and grab a seat. i'm just, yeah just go get a seat. no, you're not going to be inthe spotlight just [laughter]. although you deserve it, but anyway. and for those that don't knowshe is the 2016 recipient of the golden crown literarysociety trailblazer award. so, this is her book and she'sgoing to be reading from that and i will get into a littleshort bio in a moment.
next will be ann mcmanand this is her novel. "backcast," come on up. let people see you. next, is melissa brayden. and i don't have a book. there you go. hold it up. come on up. and with us we alsohave marie castle.
and in their bios you'll heara little bit more about them. do you want me to go ahead andintroduce all four at one time and then they can just go? >> why don't you just, no. >> mary phillips: do one at a time? >> a short one. >> mary phillips: okay, okay. well we'll start with jewelle andshe's going to give us a reading, i'm assuming from "thegilda stories."
that is her, it's the 25thanniversary of that book. and she is a double lambdaliterary award-winning author for "the gilda stories." and this is its 25thanniversary special edition. she's done adaptations of thisbook was called "bones and ash" and it was performed by the new yorkbased, urban bush woman company. and it toured 13 us cities. she's done so much andhas had so much impact on the lesbian community, literary
and she's just a goshdarn wonderful person. and without further ado,i will have you start. you have room there? >> jewelle gomez: okay,yeah, i'm good. first i want to thank thegolden crown literary society for honoring me thisyear, but more importantly for the conference every year. i think it's a destination forwriters and it gives writers hope that there really is somebody
out there reading yourdarn work [laughter]. so, i'm going to read a shortsection from "the gilda stories" which was publishedoriginally in '91. it was the first blacklesbian vampire novel published in the united states. there really is a value tofinding your niche [laughter]. it has been in print, sinceit's been in print for 25 years. it was originally published by the legendary lesbianfeminist press firebrand books.
the new edition that's just comeout this year for the anniversary is from the equally legendarycity lights books. so, it's you know gildaand the beat poets. you know. i'm going to read asection right from the beginning, which isn't particularly vampirish. but, it's at the beginning andit's kind of where i want to start. the girl slept restlesslyfeeling the prickly straw as if it were teasingpinches from her mother. the stiff moldy odortransformed itself
into her mother's starchy doe smell. the rustling of the girl's bodyin the barn hay was sometimes like the sound of fat back frying in the cooking shed behindthe plantation's main house. at over moments in her dream, itwas the crackling of the brush as her mother raked the bristlesthrough the girl's thicket of dark hair before beginning theintricate pattern of braided rows. she had traveled by night for15 hours before daring to stop. her body held out until a desertedfarmhouse, where it surrendered
to this demanding sleephemmed by fear. then, the sound of walking. a man moving stealthilythrough dawn light toward her. in the dream, it remainedwhat it was, danger. a white man wearing theclothes of an overseer. in the dream, the girlclutched tightly at her mother's large blackhand praying the sound of the steps would stop. that she would wake up curled aroundher mother's body on the straw
and cornhusk mattress next to the big old stovegrown cold with the night. in sleep, she clutchedthe hand of her mother, which turned into the warm woodenhandle of the knife she had stolen when she ran away the day before. it pulsed beside her heart, beneaththe rough shirt that hung loosely around her thin young frame. the knife crushed into thecotton foals near breast, was invisible to the red-facedman who stood laughing over her,
pulling her by one leg frombeneath the pile of hay. the girl did not scream, butburied herself in the beating of her heart alongsidethe hidden knife. she refused to believe thatthe hours of indecision, and finally the actof escape were over. the walking, hiding, runningthrough the mississippi and louisiana woodshad quickly settled into an almost enjoyable rhythm. she was not ready to give into thosewhom her mother had sworn were not
fully human. the girl tried to remember someof the stories that her mother, now dead, had pieced togetherfrom many different languages to describe the journeyto this land. the legend sketched apicture of the fulani past, a natural rhythm oflife without bondage. it was a memory that recededmore with each passing year. 'come on, get up gal,time now, get up.' the urgent voice of her motherwas a sharp buzz in her dream.
she opened her eyesto the streaking sun, which slipped in through theshuttered window opening. she hopped up rolled thepallet to the kitchen, then dipped her handsquickly in the warm water in the basin on the counter. her mother poured abit more bubbling water from an enormous kettle. the girl watched the steamcaught by the half-light of the predawn morning risetoward the low ceiling.
she slowly started to wash hardbits of moisture from her eyes as her mother turned backto the large black stove. 'i'm going to put these biscuitson gal, and you watch the cereal. i've got to go out back. i didn't beg them folks to let youin from the fields to work with me to watch you sleepingall day, so get busy.' her mother left through thedoor quickly, pulling her skirt up around her legs as she went. the girl ran to the stove,took the ladle in her hand,
and moved thick gruelaround in the iron pot. she grinned proudly at hermother when she walked back in. no sign of sticking. her mother returned the smile as sheswept the ladle up in her large hand and set the girl onto her nexttask, turning out the biscuits. 'if you lay the butter across themwhile they hot, they like that. if they's not enough butter,lay on the lard, make 'em shine. they can't tell' [laugther]. 'mama, how come they can'ttell butter from fat?
baby minerva can smell butter forit clears the top of the churn? she won't drink no pig fat? why can't they tellhow butter tastes?' 'they ain't been here long enough. they just barely human. maybe not even. they suck up the world. don't taste it.' the girl rubbed butterover the tray of hot bread,
then dumped thick doughy biscuits into the basket usedfor morning service. she loved that smell andalways thought of bread when she dreamed of better times. whenever her mother wanted to offercomfort she promised the first biscuit and real butter. the girl imagined thehome across the water that her mother sometimes spoke of as having fresh breadbaking for everyone.
even for those whoworked in the fields. she tried to remember what hermother had said about the world as it had lived beforethis time, but could not. the lost empires werea dream to the girl, like the one she was having now. she looked up at thebeast from this other land as he dragged her by her leg. his face lost the laughthat had split it and became creased with lust.
he untied the length of rope holdinghis pants and his smile returned as he became thick with anticipationof her submission to him. his head swelling with powerat the thought of invading her. he dropped to his knees before thegirl, whose eyes were wide seeing into both the past and the future. his center was bright andblinding as he placed his arms, one on each side of the girl'shead and lowered himself. she closed her eyes. he rubbed his body against herbrown skin and imagined the closing
of his eyes was a needfor him and his power. he started to enter her, but beforehis hand finished while it still tingled with her softness. she entered him with her heartwhich was now a wood handled knife. he made a small sound ashis last breath hurried to leave him, then dropped softly. warmth spread from hiscenter of power to his chest, as the blood left his body. the girl lay still beneath him untilher breath became the only sign
of life in the pile of hay. the blood washing slowly downher breastbone and soaking into the floor below waslike a bath, a cleansing. she lay still letting lifeflow over her, then slid gently from beneath the red-facedman whose cheeks had paled. she moved quietly as if hehad really been her lover and she afraid to wake him. looking down at theblood soaking her shirt and trousers, she felt no discussed.
it was the blood, signalingthe death of a beast and her continued life. the girl held the slipperywood of the knife in her hand as her body began toshake in the dream memory. she sobbed, trying to understandwhat she should do next. how to hide the bloodand still move on. she trembled, unable to tell ifthis was really happening to her all over again, or if shewere dreaming it again. she held one dirty hand up to herbroad brown face and cried heartily.
that was how gilda found herhuddled in the root cellar of her small farmhouse on the roadoutside of new orleans in 1850. 'wake up gal.' gilda shook the thinshoulder gently, as if afraid to pull looseone of the shuddering limbs. her voice was whiskey rough,her rouge face seemed young as she raised the smoky lantern. the girl woke withher heart pounding, desperate to leave the dreambehind, but seized with white fear.
the paleface above her was a woman's but the girl had learned they toocould be as dangerous as their men. gilda shook the girl whose eyeswere now open, but unseeing. the night was long. gilda did not have timefor hysterical child. the brown of her eyesdarkened in impatience. 'come on gal, what youdoing in my root cellar?' the girl's silence deepened. gilda looked at the stained tornshirt, too big pants tied tightly
at the waist and the woodhandled knife in the girl's grip. gilda saw in her eyesthe impulse to use it. 'you don't have to do that. i'm not going to hurt you. come on.' with that, gildapulled the girl to her feet, careful not to be too rough. she could see the girlwas weak with hunger and wound tight around her fear. she stared deeply into the girl'sdark eyes and said silently,
'you needn't be afraidi'll take care of you. the night hides many things.' the girl loosened thegrip on the knife under the persuasivetouch of gilda's thoughts. she had heard of people whocould talk without speaking, but never expected awhite to be able to do it. this one was a puzzlement to her. the dark eyes, and pale skin. her face was paintedin colors like a mask,
but she wore men'sbreeches and a heavy jacket. gilda moved in her small bone framelike a team of horses pulling a load on a sodden road, gentle,and relentless. 'i could use you gal, come on.' was all gilda said asshe lifted the girl and carried her out to the buggy. and thus, begins the girl's journeyinto freedom and immortality. >> mary phillips: wow. see, i'm going to haveto buy the book now.
i wanted more, whichis what writers do. they write well enoughthat you want more. ann mcman. our next award-winning author. i could go on and onabout how much she means to the golden crownliterary society. but i won't [laughter]. >> i want to hear it. >> mary phillips: she was a 2014lambda literary award finalist
and is a two-time winner of the gclsaward for short story collections. she's funny. she's bright. she's talented. and she's here fromher hospital bed. >> ann mcman: fresh from it. >> mary phillips: ann mcman. >> ann mcman: i bet you allare wondering what for, right? i'm not going to tell you.
let's just say, i'm a littlelighter than i was a week ago. i am going to read frommy newest book "backcast." "backcast" is a novel that dealswith perception and reality and all of the gray areas that lurk between. simply stated, it is a novel about13 lesbian authors who congregate on the shores of vermont'slake champlain for a two-week writers' conference. while they are there, theyenter a tournament bass fishing competition [laughter].
this is an epic work fullof mythic themes [laughter]. auspiciously what they are doingis they are writing companion first-person essays that willbe paired with sculptures funded by an nea grant to commemoratetransitions in women's lives for women's history month. and the book is as much aboutstructure as it is narrative. it has 13 chapters. and the 13 chapters are separated by the 13 first-person essayswritten by the authors.
these are presentedwithout attribution. so, it's kind of up to the readerto figure out who wrote what. i do actually tell you at the veryend, but you're not allow to cheat. so, what i'm going to do isread one of the essays for you. this is essay number2 "found objects." i'll never forget the day my parentssat me down and explained to me that i had been bornwith ambiguous genitalia. really? i've never feltambiguous a day in my life. well, maybe just thatone time at christmas
when my aunt tootie took me totoys r us to redeem a gift card and asked me to choosebetween western barbie, who kind of looked a lot likejennifer aniston but came with a really coolprancing palomino. or the remote-controlledspecial ops spy car with rockets and a rear firing cannon. i stood there staringdown into the depths of that bright red shopping cartfor so long that aunt tootie, who really had the patience of job,finally started cracking her wad
of dentyne just to let me know shewas thinking about getting annoyed. in the end, i went with the barbie,but only because i like the fringe on her shiny whiteoutfit and like i said, the plastic yellow horsewas pretty awesome. it looked a lot like mister ed. my aunt never found out thatlater when i got barbie alone in my room i cut offmost of her hair and renamed her wilbur [laughter]. even then, my tasteswere pretty eclectic.
at least that's how my motherdescribed them to her guests when i showed up at one of hertupperware parties wearing a pair of mukluks and a camouflagejacket over a pink to tutu. i've never been afraidto take a fashion risk. growing up, it didn't muchmatter to me that i had a penis. in fact, it's reallyjust a supersize nub, but i'll talk more about that later. i mean, i knew i was a girl, mostly. i didn't even know there wasanything unusual about me
until i was 10 and i sawmelissa boatride in the shower at the y. i learnedsome other useful things about myself that day too. like it suddenly became clear tome why i wasn't really interested in boys the way most of myfriends were starting to be. you see, melissa was3 years older than me and she looked pretty greatstark naked and dripping wet. and unlike my western barbie i hadno desire to cut off any of her hair to make her look like a guy.
i thought she was justfine the way she wants. that's when i wenthome and asked my mom to explain just whatwas up with my body. and why didn't i look likeother girls, down there. she gave me one of those looks,the ones that always met we were in for a long conversation. and said we talk about itlater, when my dad got home. okay, that meant it was abigger deal than i thought. for the very first timein my life, i felt afraid.
why was i different. why hadn't anyone ever saidanything to me about it. what was it going to mean? and why did my nub getbigger whenever i thought about melissa in the shower? that night, after we ate ourpot roast and cream spinach, my parents pushed theirplates back and faced me with identical pairsof folded hands. 'pumpkin,' my father began.
'there are some things thatmom and i never told you about the day you were born.' i glanced over at my mother. her face had that pinched up lookit got whenever sally struthers was on tv talking aboutsick babies in africa. i look back at my father. 'what is it? and why does mom look so scared.' he shot a nervous glance at mymother and cleared his throat.
i knew it was bad now. i was sure he was going totell me that i was adopted. that had to be it. my whole life was a sham. how would i ever holdmy head up in school. and how would i ever break thenews to wilbur and mister ed. we were orphans now. my eyes started tofill up with tears. 'i'm adopted, aren't i?'
my father looked surprised. 'no, honey, that's not it.' 'it isn't?' i wasn't sure i wasready to believe him. i mean, he waited all this timeto tell me whatever it was. 'no.' he looked at my mom again. she took up the explanation. "sweetie, when you were bornthe doctors weren't sure about whether you were alittle girl or a little boy.'
okay that's not my surge of panic. 'why not?' i asked. my mother leanedacross the table and reached out to push my bangsaway from my eyes. 'well, honey you know howlittle boys have penises and little girls have vaginas?' i had a pretty good idea aboutwhere this was headed now. 'it seemed that youwere born with both.' she said, 'and,' my fatherchimed in 'the doctors wanted us
to make a choice about whichsex we wanted you to be.' 'but,' it was my mother'sturn to talk again. i felt like i was watchinga tennis match on tv. 'we didn't think thatwas our decision to make. so, we decided to wait.' 'wait? wait for what? wait for my nub to drop off, orfor me to have to start shaving? you gave me a girl's name.' i said, 'and you bought me dolls.'
i said it like i wasmatlock cross-examining a witness [laughter]. 'we also bought youtrucks and guns.' my father corrected, itseemed like he'd had time to prepare for this conversation. 'and your name is afamily name that could work for either a girl or a boy.' my mother added. that was true.
at least they had namedme after aunt tootie. then i might've had a reason touse one of my toy guns [laughter]. i looked down at my lap. 'is this why i have a big nub?' i asked my father chewedhis bottom lip. nobody said anything for a moment. i could hear our dog, rex, gettinga drink of water in the kitchen. 'yes, honey,' my motherfinally replied. i signed. it was true thatmy big nub was unusual.
i knew that now. but it was a part of me. and i was used to it. plus, it was feelingpretty good these days. i didn't think i wantedto have it go away. my panic started to creep back. is that what this conversationwas about? were they going tomake me lose my nub? i knew that right then iprobably looked a whole lot
like rex whenever mom gotthe vacuum cleaner out. 'can i keep it?' i asked. 'oh honey,' mymom was starting to cry. 'of course you can keep it.' dad was now staring at somethingfascinating in his own lap. maybe all this talk aboutlosing nubs was making him think about his own [laugther]. gross. 'okay,' i said. 'is there anything elseyou'd like to ask us about?'
my mom was still leaning toward me. i shrugged. it occurred to me to ask if theyever thought that joey heinz, who lived in the apartment upstairslooked just like the unabomber. but i knew this probablywasn't the kind of question she meant,'not right now.' i said instead. my father had apparentlyfinished contemplating the crease in his trouser leg.
'just know that you can alwaystalk with us about this.' he said, 'or anythingelse that worries you.' my mother nodded in agreement. 'don't ever let anyone make youfeel like you're odd or strange. you are a perfectlywonderful and normal person.' right then, i realized howlucky i was that she didn't know about western barbie'snew hairstyle. i'd grown tired of the buzzcut and colored her head with a black marks-a-lot.
she had a beard andsideburns now too. 'can i go out and play until dark?' 'did you finish your math homework?' she asked. we were doing long divisionat school and i hated that stuff more than cream spinach. i looked down at my plate. i'd done a pretty goodjob at hiding most of it beneath what was leftof my parker house roll.
i knew it didn't reallyfool my mother. but she usually letme get away with it. 'i did most of it.' i said, 'i need help withsome of the harder ones.' mom started to protest,but dad interrupted her. 'you can go out and play, but whenyou come back inside we'll sit down and solve the restof your problems.' i pushed back my chair andraced for the front door. not wanting to waste anymoreof the soft, warm night.
it was only later, as i fell asleepwrapped in the snug awareness that my parents would alwaysdo exactly what they promised, that i realized how luckyi was to be born me. >> mary phillips: thank you. our next author is melissa brayden. she is a multi-award-winningauthor of lesbian romance. she has 7 published novelswith bold strokes books. she is a favorite on ourconference rotation of panels, and presentations, and workshops,and just an all-around favorite.
melissa. >> melissa brayden: hi, everybodyi will be reading to you today from my upcoming newrelease "first position." and i guess it can best bedescribed as a romantic comedy with some angst tossed in. and the backdrop for this particularbook is the new york city ballet. and it features natalie, aballet dancer who was brought into the company under someirreverent circumstances to add a bit of edgycontemporariness
to an upcoming peacein the fall season. and what she learns in the auditionis that she will be sharing the role with the company'sresident ice queen, anna. and as you can imagine,they clash quite a bit. even their skill sets goup against one another as natalie has the character, shehas the grit, she has the passion. but anna is the onewith the technique. and so, the scene that i'm goingto read to you today is a moment where they start to understand thatthey can perhaps help each other
on stage and maybe offstage as well. picture-perfect extensions, impeccable turnout,unmatched control. natalie stood thereawed as she watched. anna exhibited a weightlessexistence as she moved quickly on her toes through theexpanse of the studio. natalie shook her head and drummedher fingers against her upper lip. the more she watched anna dance,the more in awe she became of anna herself, of herability, of her physique.
'until tomorrow everyone.' roger shouted. 'we'll be in the larger studioincorporating the background dancers as they appear in theunderworld sequences. natalie you'll be up first. come prepared, please.' 'got it.' natalie stood and stretched somewherethere was a bucket of ice water with her name on it.
icing down her muscles would be theonly way she could dance those same combinations again the next day,because god her body screamed. 'are we still on?' anna asked toweling off. after dancing the last hour,she still had energy for more. she was kind of a balletmachine, this girl. natalie stared up at her. 'i'm game if you are.' 'great. why don't we take15 and meet back here.
we can go over the openingand i can show you a couple of tricks i think mightsmooth out your transitions.' 'cool. see you then. natalie took the timeto roll out her muscles and decompress a littlein the green room. when she returned to the studio. the lights were at half and she found the place emptyeveryone having already gone home. she stared at her reflection inthe mirrors that lined the wall.
her hair was up, butstrands had fallen here or there throughout the day. she pulled the rubber band out entirely gave her head alittle shake, prompting her hair to fall to her shoulders. in the corner of her eye she sawanna's reflection watching her from the doorway and somethingdecidedly sensual moved through her, making her very aware of her bodyand the effect of anna stare on it. 'hey,' anna said stillin the doorway.
'i'll put on some musicand we can go from there.' in the empty room herquiet voice echoed. 'ready when you are.' natalie said and took herspot in the middle of the room for the opening sequence. something about the one-on-onework session had her nervous that her flaws wouldbe clearly on display. she shoved the unease aside andtook a deep settling breath. once she heard themusic she was off.
but it was only a matter of momentsbefore the room came to a halt in silence, causingher to halt as well. she turned to see thatanna had paused the music and was now walkingtoward her with purpose. 'the thing is, you're tooliberal with your movements. too loose. you bring this whole recklessquality to the character, and it works, but for the sakeof form you have to tighten up.' 'right, right, i've heardthat before from roger.
okay, cool i'll try it again.' except when she did theresults were much the same. anna shook her head. 'the choreography is therebut you lack precision. you have to finish eachextension before moving on, or the transitions are muddled.' 'i thought that's what i was doing.' 'it's not.' anna said matter-of-factly.
'you're rushing. but don't get frustrated. it's going to take time. tell you what. try and focus on that onething on this next run through. finish what you start.' natalie dance untilthe music stopped again and turned to her tutor. 'better. you did just what i asked.
but now i need youto pull yourself in. keep your hips underneath you.' anna moved until shestood behind natalie and met her gaze in the mirror. 'feel that?' anna asked and placed her handagainst natalie's abdomen. natalie nodded, hyperawareof the contact and the warmth that hit her cheeksand the downward. 'i do.' anna's voicewas quiet in her ear.
'you're going to pull in here,and push through the toe.' natalie nodded at anna in themirror, the contact unbroken. she could feel anna's breath tickleher neck and with anna's hand still on her body her mind wandered toplaces outside of her control. as if sensing the shift,anna took a step back and released natalie moving themon from the very charged moment. 'one more time.' natalie nodded and focusedon what she needed to do. as she spun on her toesshe took anna's advice,
pulling in just beneath the touchshe could still feel on her skin. she closed her eyes, concentratedand before she knew it, she'd made it to theend of the variation.' when the music came to a stopthis time anna didn't say a word. 'well?' natalie asked, 'any better?' anna blinked back at her asif awakening from a dream. 'yeah, that was beautiful,actually.' and then she seemedto find herself again. 'okay, are you ready to trythe whole thing together?'
natalie raised an eyebrow. 'all of it? it might be kind ofhard without jason.' 'i can fill in foranything that's not a lift or the flying shoulder sits,we can just mark those.' anna shrugged her hoodieoff her shoulders. 'wait, you're dancing with me?' 'don't look at me like that. it's not like i haven't seen thechoreography a million times.'
natalie stared at herin mystification. her mind rolling through thesequence that she'd come to know and imagining it all happening inanna's arms instead of jason's. the idea alone made her heartstop and her stomach tighten. she tried to smile through it,but she faltered because the idea of the intimate contact wasoverwhelming her senses. but she didn't have time tolinger as anna joined her in the middle of the floor. natalie assumed her opening poseand anna wrapped an arm around her
from behind, just as jason would've. only it felt nothing like jason. not even close. is this even the ballet? the music began and they leaptinto motion, dancing side-by-side. anna took her by thehand and led her upstage, never breaking eye contact. natalie moved into herbody and then away, just as always only thistime her temperature climbed.
she spun. they danced. anna's hands on her waist,her stomach, her thighs. the flashes of emotion,the give-and-take of the characters addeda whole new element, and dancing through that dynamicwith anna had her body thrumming. they skipped the lift, butanna caught her at the end of the pas de deuxand pulled her close, ending the sequenceflush against each other. 'you did great.'
anna said in her ear andheld her a moment longer as natalie's breath camein short little gasps. anna release nataliesolemnly, nodded to her and headed back to the bench. okay, so she hadn'tbeen the only one who had felt the electricityback there. that much was now clear. she stared at the ceilingunderstanding that this was a slippery slope theywere on, and she had to find a way
to maneuver it gracefully. [ laughter ] >> mary phillips: wait, i needsomething bigger [laughter]. wow. thought i was hot before. thank you, melissa [laughter]. some words will takeon a whole new meaning. all right. maria i'm sorry. that's a tough actto follow [laughter].
well, but you know whata segue into vampires. our next author is marie castle. her book is "the devil you know." she was born in mississippiand is an award-winning author of the paranormal "darkmirror" series from which you're goingto read as i understand. she enjoys good reads, badmovies, and sassy women. and i know she likes sassy women,because i know who she's with. and so without further ado.
>> marie castle: so, this is alesson of be careful what you put in your bio, because it might getread out everywhere, apparently. okay. so, i'm visuallyimpaired, which is why i'm going to be reading from a kindle. it just makes it alittle bit easier to see. and she mentioned i'll bereading from "the devil you know" which is the second bookin my "dark mirror" series. the first novel iscalled "hells bell." and it begins with ourmain character kate delacey
who is a southern bell, whoguards the gates to hell. yeah. okay [laughter]. yes. so, this scene is fromthe beginning of the book and is set outside anold farmhouse located in the fictional townof gandsi, mississippi. we began as our heroine kate delaceyfinds a very unusual creature having breakfast on the grassin her backyard. of course, kate herselfis an unusual creature as you will soon findout much of the series,
including this scene is told inkate's first person perspective. shoo-shoo. i jabbed the broom at the pony sizedhell hound lounging on my back lawn. the bristle then stopped feet shy ofcontact, halted by the swirling blue and green watered energywell separating us. my late great-grandmother, grams hadused a similar broom more than once when chasing our evil hell spawnof a cat, hex, who had a knack for creating trouble wheretrouble wasn't wanted. the demonic doggie, a femalei assumed from her larger size
and darker coloringblinked black eyes at me, then resumed gnawing on deer haunch. we had houseguest this morning. as soon as they finished breakfastsome would leave the safety of the wards and head home. no doubt my grandmother, nanawould consider it unmannerly to let our guest beeaten by hell hound. that sort of thing just wasn't done. if i couldn't get the hound tomove on i was in for a lecture.
'scat cat,' i wavedthe broom over my head. the hound gave me an offendedlook before rolling her eyes at the broom. she was more intelligent thanthe hounds i had met previously. of course, those had beentrying to rip out my throat, so i am hadn't been inclined to offer an iq testbefore dispatching them. 'you don't like beingcalled a cat, so noted.' i pulled hellfire from within myselflit the broom ablaze and used it
to gesture toward the woods, 'now scram before i send youback to hell the hard way.' the hound barred wickedly sharpteeth, bloodied with her breakfast. safe to say that was a no. i returned the gesture,showing her my meanest smile, 'you have a littlesomething right about here.' i pointed to my upper right molar. 'they call it floss, honey, investin some, and it's been a rough week. you'll have to do better.'
the hound flicked atongue across her teeth. hunched a shoulder as if to say,'whatever' and returned to her food. 'don't be fooled by my sweetdisposition and southern drawl.' i shook the fiery broom, 'i couldfry your ass if i wanted to.' the hound turned her backon me and waved her tail in a clear, 'bring it gesture.' oh, i doused my flames. 'you obviously have no ideahow stinky fricassee hell hound carcass is.'
i waved the broom foremphasis before lowering it. the crunch of bonewas her only response. my nose twitched. smelling smoke, i looked to seethe broom's bristles were singed. that was the third this year. nana would be ticked. even more so if i killeda hell hound on the lawn and didn't clean up. little miss sassy pawswas getting a reprieve,
so long as i couldensure she didn't snack on our company onceshe finished the deer. i had the sinking suspicion, no matter how things went iwould still get a lecture. damn it all to hell and backi hated mondays [laughter]. i blew a block of ravenblack hair from my eyes. it curled in the highhumidity and fell back against the side of my face. i couldn't believe i was arguingwith a hell hound on the back lawn.
while in the house, myfamily was serving breakfast to a passel of ware tigers. more importantly, i couldn't believethis hell mutt was even here. we had recently killed two hellhounds nearby on the front lawn after they had attacked us. that was when i had learnedroasting demonic creatures created a nasty mess. you would think the remainingstench would deter further visits. maybe i'm losing my touch.
it could be i wasn'tintimidating this morning, what with my bare feet, cut offjean shorts and showered up hair. i was already a petite woman, topping out at 5 feet5 with my boots on. people never took meseriously until a knife pressed to the ribs drove home the point. or maybe the hound knewi couldn't come for it without lowering the warddoor and exposing myself. even so, the beast shouldhave been a little scared.
according to my mother's twin sisterhelena i was half witch, half demon and more trouble than the cat,which was saying something. unfortunately, recent eventshad proved my aunt right. i was trouble, or atleast had mad skills when it came to landingmy ass in it. my family were guardians. we had the power to open andclose the hell gates at will. with that power camethe responsibility of policing the dark mirrors,what we call the blackstone gates
that cross the void between worlds. when the supernatural councilsherriff farah said a dark sorcerer named nicodemus was lookingto open a dark mirror and bring his demon mastersarmy through, i had no choice but to accept the help for contactformer council operative detective jacqueline sloan. with smoky gray eyes, auburnhair and a dimple that popped out when she grinned,jac turned out to be as alluring as she was mysterious.
from the very moment we met, wehad been drawn to each other. there was something frighteninglypowerful growing between us. but neither of us seemed to havethe good sense to run from it. i wasn't sure wherethis relationship with jac was going,where it could go. we have what you might calla major incompatibility. i was mortal, she immortal. but i knew i was fallingin love with he. the showdown with nicodemushad been last night.
now there was work to do andguests to see on their way. jac and i had our firstofficial date tonight. the chivalrous woman wantedto quote unquote, 'court' me and i was of a mind to let her. our timing wasn't the best,but i'd had enough of death. i want to live. and that meant timealone with a woman who warmed my heartand made me feel alive. i turned my attentionback to the hound.
now, savoring the last stubby bones. maybe my witchy spideysense was busted. i wasn't alarmed bythe hound's presence. i still had the feelingsomething big was on the horizon. a storm not finished with nicodemus. but my gut said this hound wasn'tpart of it, which didn't make sense. why else would a hell hound be here? hell hounds were rare. usually staying in well, hell.
or at least they had beenrare until a few days ago. but this hound was different. she hadn't joined thetwo-head that rushed us. instead she peed on my truckthen stolen my floppy-eared bunny slipper. annoying yes, but notexactly aggressive. and she was familiar,for a more recent reason. i stepped closer to thewards, examining the bites and scratches marringthe hound's flanks.
a memory formed in my mind. i was driving to confront nicodemus,two of his raptor creatures tried to stop me, but something rushedout of the night and caught them. i thought it was a warein animal form even as i knew that couldn't be. the wares were moving infrom the opposite direction. it had been this hound. the cuts and scratches match thosethe wares had gotten while fighting the raptors.
why would you help me? i asked softly. the hound picked up thedeer bones with her mouth and paced toward the wards. she dropped the bones near a blueley line arch and backed away. steamed blew from hernostrils before disappearing in the sultry summer air. 'seriously,' i snorted, makinga face, 'if you're going to give a girl a gift stickwith chocolates or diamond.
slobbery bones went outof style with cavemen.' my laughter died in my throatas my eyes met the hound's. for an instant, our mind meshed. she blinked and we separated. but that moment of connection hadbeen enough to transmit a message. i let out a long breath confused. the bones aren't the gift. you are the gift. the hound's head dippedin acknowledgement.
who? why? i stopped as nana yelled out the open kitchen door,"k, the wards are fine. i checked them this morning. come say goodbye to our guests.' she paused. 'and you better not haveburned my brook again.' the bushes separating uskept me from seeing nana. but i knew her faded green gazewould be turned inward as it was when she saw a visionof the past or future.
'i hate it when she does that.' i muttered. turning back to the hound. the lawn was empty butfor a small pile of bones. assured the hell hound wasgone, i lowered the ward door and levitated the bonesinto the woods. as i walked back to the house, ibroke burnt bristles from the broom, and wondered, who wouldsend me a hell hound? a sarcastic stubborn hound no less.
i didn't have a clue. but i can guaranteei would find out. such a gift deserveda proper thank you. nana would certainly agree. it was the mannerly thing to do. >> nicholas brown: thank youall that was really fascinating. it was really excitingto hear such diversity in terms of topics and themes. and i hope this has opened a wholenew world of reading to those of us
who might be new to your work. so, thank you for that. so, we'll open up thefloor for questions now, or if you all havequestions for each other, or? just raise your hand, ask away. if you don't ask anythingi will ask everything and that gets boringafter a while so. so, one question i would have to start us off would bewhat was your experience
in getting a publisher as an author,and in what ways do you think that you had a differentor a similar experience from other types of authors? no you can just hang there, theyhave the area mic coming so. >> jewelle gomez: well,when i was published in '91 it was still the heydayof lesbian feminist publishers. i had originally i hada really excellent agent and the book was turned down byevery major press in new york. it was interesting commentslike well the character's black,
they're lesbians, they're vampires. it's too complicate [laughter]. so, i said well i'mtwo of those three. >> ann mcman: which two? >> jewelle gomez: i couldn't say. it was very strenuous work andthen finally firebrand books, had always been interested and i thought you know i justwant the book to be out there. i want people to be able to read it.
i'm not expecting toretire off of the funds from the sale of this book. and so, i took it to firebrandand i had a wonderful, really wonderful experiencebecause it had been a collection, it had been short stories andaubrey moore told me to turn it into a novel, so you knowif aubrey moore tells you to do something you do it. and so, we spent a year editing with only one two-week break whileanita hill was being cross-examined
by the beast of the hill. and but we just spentthat solid year. and it was really fabulous to havea lesbian feminist press who was so supportive and knowledgeable. and really, reallysupported the book. because it still seemed to beconfusing to a lot of people. >> ann mcman: i'm almost embarrassedto talk about my experience. i actually came along duringthe whole zena fan fiction era. and had written this 10,000-pagetome called "jericho" and threw it
in the drawer and was nevergoing to do anything with it. and had a friend who just you knowbugged the tar out of me and said, you need to try to get it publishedand i was like nobody's going to want to read this book. so, she pushed me to actually postit at one of the many posting sights on the internet, where you knowyou can throw things up for free and people could makecomments and write back to you. so, i kind of clumsily choppedthe book up into ten chapters. and thought i would postit, a chapter a month.
so, i created a pseudonym anda different email account, because i was so sure thebook sucked [laughter]. and i threw it up thereand you know about three or four days later i sort of timidlywent to check the email account and there were like4000 messages in there. and literally within you know10 days i had authors to publish from four different people. and it was completelydifferent world then. so, i was extremely fortunate tokind of you know slide in that way.
>> melissa brayden:well, i had a manuscript and i didn't reallyknow what to do with it. i was an avid reader. and didn't know a tonabout the publishing world. and submitted to mypublisher bold strokes. and i received, i don't thinki've talked about this before. i received back anemail with an attachment of pages and pages of notes. and i was like wellwhat does this mean?
if i'm not accepted,but am i not rejected? because there's notes here. and basically, what had happened,and i've been told sense, rod, cliff and i have talked about thisis we don't really often do this. they liked the book,but i think they were, i think it was a test,if i had to guess. they were seeing, okay wouldi be able to take these notes, and what could i do with it. well, that was great news to me.
i was ready to get to work. and so, i took those notesand i worked on a book and i sent it back to them. and we were in business. and yeah, going strong since. but, yeah i think that had i justtaken those notes and been like, no. i don't know that we would besitting here together right now. so. >> nicholas brown: cool.
>> marie castle: some moreshort story like melissa. i began writing sort of asjust a way to deal with stress. my aunt had breast cancer and iwas sitting with her every day as she was going through chemo. and things and it was justit began initially for, you know begin a story getmy head somewhere else. and then, i ended up runninga business and had no time for writing, i barely had time forsleeping for about a year or two. and so, we put the story asideand my life completely changed.
i had all this drama, dynamics, starting a business,losing a business. going into the corporate world. came back to writing andfound out that i had changed, and so my story had changed to. and so, i threw out i thinkevery bit but like two chapters. and i started writing again. and i was also coming out. and i was dealing withpeople who are like thinking
that you know [inaudible]we're demonic you know and stuff like that. and i thought well i'lljust use this as therapy and make my character and ico-demon and let her deal with it. and i felt like there neededmore novels like that. i was having trouble findinglesbians paranormal stuff. and i just looked upabout ten publishers. i started looking inside thebooks that i like to read, and that i thoughtwere written well.
and started openingup the title covers and seeing who's publishing these? and i picked a coupleof the publishers that i thought theywrite great books. they're well-edited, well-presented,they're getting out there and just started submitting, too. and i was fortunate thatthe first person i submitted to accepted the manuscript with theidea that it needed to be edited because mine was close to 600 pages.
and then they were like, youknow j.k. rowling doesn't edit, but we want this to be edited. and i said well i'mnot j.k. rowling, i'm just somebody elsewho's starting out and i will take anyadvice that you'll give me. and went from there. >> nicholas brown: cook. neat. one other question would behow do you all balance your writing with other interests or otherprofessional activities?
and has that changed over thecourse of your writing careers? >> jewelle gomez: well, foryears i worked my day job, i did philanthropy. and so, i always wrote at night. i used to, write vampirenovels from 10 to 1 [laughter]. and i was also, you know andstill consider myself an activist, as a lesbian feminist activist. so, you know, by the timeyou get finished with work and then a meeting, and thenyou know it was 10 o'clock.
so, i was always writing at night. and on the weekends. and it was very, that's why thebook took a long time to finish. because i didn't have a lot of time. and you know right as theaids crisis kind of expanded, and i got involved in some of thepolitical activism around that, my writing really didn't happena lot in the mid-eighties. but i recently retired fromall of those day job things. so now i write wheneveri want to [laughter].
and i'm happy to say i'm one ofthose people who never had a, you know what do you call thosethings when you can't write? >> ann mcman: writer's block, >> jewelle gomez: writer's block. see i can't even rememberwhat it is [laugther]. i've knock on wood,i've never had that. but i always worry once i stopworking would i then start to have a writer's block you know. when you're working, you only havea limited amount of time so you sit
down and you start writing until youcan't keep your eyes open anymore. but it has not happened since inow have, i can write full time. i still don't have writer'sblock, knock on wood, to this day. >> ann mcman: i have alwayswanted to be one of the writers who talk about their muses. i don't have a muse. i have a foot up my butt, my own. and writing to me is work. it's hard work.
and it's a discipline. and you've got to really, or atleast for me i have to really want to do it and i have to makemyself do it most of the time. and one of the thingsthat i struggle with, i think we probably all strugglewith now is the world we live in, where particularly in our genre,publishers are cranking books out about every 12.5 seconds. and if you want to stay vitaland you want to stay viable, and you want to stay in front
of people you have toget books out there. and it's really difficult totry to do good and serious and thoughtful work whenyou're, i was thinking about the little was it iragershwin's little metric thing? and i sort of feel likei have one of those in the back of my head all the time. you know so that's astruggle to me, because i want to write really meaningful stuff,not just stuff that's expedient and getting you knowit shoved out quickly
and when you have afulltime day job, and you have a coupleof full time other jobs, i also design book covers,you know and all that. so, a lot of times, the writingis the thing that you know kind of gets shoved to the side. so, i have a tendency to get upsuper, super early in the morning and that's my writing time. so, that's what i do. >> melissa brayden:to speak to that.
to the, to having to balanceit all, it can be really hard. i know when i first started, i was a high school theaterteacher during the first three books that i wrote. and it was about steeling time. it was about a 30-minutelunch break, well maybe i get a hundredwords down, and then maybe after work you get donea couple hundred more. there were, back then i wasshooting for around 500 words a day.
and i was happy with that. then, i went to gradschool [laughter]. and the thing was that the bookswere paying for grad school. so, i had to keep writing, becausethat's what i was living on. and affording myself togo to school that way. so, i needed to writeeven faster than i did when i had the fulltime job. and so, then it got really crazy. but interestingly enough i hadthe same exact fear as ann,
about if i go any fasteram i going to lose quality. well, one of the things i'm learningabout myself is that the books that i'm like this is notgood, this book is not good, and i don't know what i'm goingto do, those are the books that do the best [laughter],and people like the most. i'm like that's, so i've learnednot to listen to myself necessarily. i don't seem to have a good gauge. but. >> marie castle: when i wrote myfirst two novels i was working just
left my business and gone to basically taken apretty non job working for a corporation answeringphones, quality control. and i took a different calllike every 8 minutes or so, i spoke with a different personfrom all over the country. and sometimes, out of the country. and i had to find time on mylunch break, or i'd carpool in with people becausei don't drive. i mean i can drive a car,
but you really don't wantme doing it [laugther]. it's that things getin my way [laughter]. things, people [laughter]. so, i would carpoola lot with my mother, who worked a 12-hourshift at the hospital. so usually i would get to workeither three or four hours early, or have to stay three or fourhours late waiting on a ride. so, a lot of times i was in likea break room or a lunch room, or sitting out frontscribbling in a notebook,
and then later typingon my computer. and i found that the corporatepress was really good encouragement to do something else with your life. and it was very inspiring for work. now, i don't have a corporate job. i've left to write fulltime. and my biggest thing is my familyhas a farm, so now they're like, oh you've got a lot of time,come help with harvest, come help with [laugther].
are you free to pick peaches today? and the blind part doesn't workbecause my family knows that even with my low vision, i'mstill extremely capable. so, i have to say you know i've gota deadline, i've got to get it done and then you have to logyourself out of facebook. because you're like nosocial media for me today. i've got to get work done. and that's the biggestdistraction, so yeah. >> nicholas brown: yeah, definitely.
yes? question in the back? >> is there a limit as to how muchtime you can actually spend writing in the sense that you know, there'sa certain amount of concentration that you have to have writing andthen, say, do you have to stop after two hours becauseyou're exhausted or bored with it, that kind of thing? >> ann mcman: i feel, sometimesin life, if any of you have any of you read albert camus'novel, "the plague?" remember the?
remember the writer in that book who spent his entire liferewriting the same sentence, you know so i find when i get tothat point, you know when you sort of naturally get to apoint where you know, george pierce is an expert on this. you know where you're kind of likelooking at anything else to do, you know that it's sort oflike a natural time to stop. you know take a break. and some days that might be,you might knock out, 3000 words.
or it might be 250 [laugther]. you know it might be onereally superlative dependent clause [laugther]. >> melissa brayden: i have about afour-hour window i think i'm good and creative on and then ineed to move on to something, and it can still be work-related,it just might be more in tune with marketing, orcommunication, or returning emails. but after about fourhours of trying to write, regardless of the word count,yeah i dry up a little bit.
>> marie castle: i'm with jewelle. i write a lot late at night. i've found one, like people don'tcall, or bug you or nothing. but back to going tothe corporate job. i used to, the only time icould really get a long break for writing was on the weekends. and i would start on friday night,write until i just passed out, and hopefully not on the computer,although that happened once and i think my foreheadtyped something really ugly,
but [laughter] get up the next morning andjust write, write, write. i think the most, myrecord is like 30 hours, just over a weekend so would write. i did sleep. i did sleep [laughter]. and. >> ann mcman: you should giveyourself to science [laughter]. >> marie castle: ithink 'm more creative
when i'm tired, when i'm fuzzy. i mean i can't edit. some of it's poorly edited. but some of my best scenes thatmy editors complimented me on, after i've gone back and edited like10 times, that were very creative, i've done in those moment wherei'm just exhausted and it's like the ideas come to me. some of them i'm kind of like fuzzy like the next morning,dang you write this?
wow. but yeah. i like writing for longstretches and wearing myself out. >> jewelle gomez: i can gousually four hours is a nice chunk. i feel like i'm reallygoing pretty well. but i'm a person whogets up and down a lot. if i don't have something else in myday scheduled, i can go for 10 hours and feel really good, energized. but of course, it depends, asyou said, on where you are. if something pops out ofyou and you get going on it.
>> ann mcman: how much vodka'sin your drink [laughter]. >> jewelle gomez: it alsodepends on the genre. i mean with fiction and i don't know if other people arewriting other genres, but with fiction i can go very long. i can just go for hours and hours,but when i'm working on my plays, i tend to work in shorter spurts forsome reason, because i have to get up and walk around andsay the words aloud and leave them alone,and then come back.
so, i think. i think i go less ata clip with drama. >> ann mcman: can i share onepositive, it kind of relates to what marie was talking about some of my favorite literaryantidotes of all time. there's this great storyabout the poet robert browning and elizabeth barrett. and one of the first timesthey met, she was a huge fan of his work, whichis terribly dense.
and she had this oneparticular passage in his poem and she showed it tohim and she said, you know i've really been strugglingwith like this right here, can you tell me whatyou were writing about. and then he took it and read it. and he said, you knowwhen i wrote that only god and robert browning knew what itmeant, and now only god knows. >> nicholas brown: wonderful. on that note, unfortunatelybecause of time, we're going to have
to conclude the formal discussion,but i would like to invite you all to consider purchasingthe books in the back. and then coming up tosay hi to the authors. ask some more questions andalso get the book signed. and thank you authors for beinghere this has been very wonderful. and also, a couple other thank yous. first off to the library'shumanities and social sciences division and meg metcalf is oneof their [applause] yes.
we're very appreciativeof that division's support with all lgbtq work at the libraryand especially this even today. and they've helped uswith getting this filmed. meg is our new woman's gender andlgbtq studies reference specialist. so, she is our new rock star. she has only been at thelibrary for under a year, so we love meg [applause]. and also a huge thanks to mary andthe golden crown literary society and to liz gibson who we've beenworking with for several months now
to make this all possible. so, thank you, enjoy the restof your conference here in dc. and thank you also tomy colleague kathy jones from congressionalresearch [applause]. and we'll see you again soon. thanks. >> this has been a presentationof the library of congress. visit firstname.lastname@example.orgMy Little Pony Coloring Pages Daring Do