I don’t do this kind of post very often, but I hope you’ll give me your ear.
The book business is tough, period. But when you step further from the mainstream, things get tougher. And, if you’ve heard me chat about the subject before, you know that by “mainstream,” most of the time we’re talking “straight, white, and cis-gendered.” I talk a lot about how important diversity is, about how important access to diversity is, and about how important #ownvoices and our own community itself is.
And it occurred to me that I’ve missed a few opportunities to point out a way to support those communities.
Recently, Glad Day Books came to a crossroads. They needed to adapt their space (it was small, it wasn’t accessible, and from a business point of view, it’s pretty damn tough to make an operational profit with books these days—they were, and are, doing very well, but business isn’t about getting by, it’s about growth. They hosted a fundraiser, and pretty soon they’ll be opening up at 499 Church, as a bookstore-slash-bar-slash-coffee shop.
Frankly? I can’t wait to see it.
Which brings me to my first point.
When Light was on its way to becoming a real, live first novel of mine, Ottawa’s LGBT Bookstore was on the edge of fading out. After Stonewall opened June 18, 1990 as the LGBTQ’s community place for literature and magazines. It became a place to meet and discuss books and find out what is going on in the community, and by 2012, David Rimmer, the owner, was ready to retire.
Luckily for the whole community, along came Michael Deyell.
The sharp eyed among you might realize both those names have characters named after them in my books, and that’s no coincidence. Michael took After Stonewall and created Stonewall Gallery, which kept the LGBT literature, and became Ottawa’s Art for Everyday Living experience. In October of 2013, among beautiful paintings, gorgeous jewellery, stoneware, glassware, and—yes—LGBT literature, I got to host the book launch of my dreams at Stonewall Gallery. Friends, family, and people I’d never met but immediately decided were individuals of obvious taste, merit, and class showed up for my reading, and the launch was brilliant.
And entirely due to Michael, and everything David had done before him.
Fast-forward to this May, and I got to do the same thing for Triad Blood.
Again, due to Michael.
Through Stonewall, I’ve been able to bring stock to conventions, and not only get the word out about my work, but also support the bookstore who made it possible for me the launch my title in the first place. Every copy that Stonewall sells of my book is like a small, personal thank-you to Michael, in my mind.
Now, if you look at the title up there, it says “Stonewall / Wilde’s.” So what’s that about?
Wilde’s first opened in September 1993. After a couple of moves, Wilde’s settled onto Bank Street and has become the Village’s oldest adult store. The business was sold in 2015 and continues to evolve. Adult toys and accessories are more popular than ever. LGBTQ and Pride merchandise are more in demand.
And the space is no longer able to supply that demand.
Now, the business happened to sell to an awesome man named Trevor Prevost, and it just so happens Trevor and Michael are partners, and they’re looking to make a similar state for their businesses.
Stonewall has a basement that, with renovations, would not only revitalize Wilde’s ability to stock and sell, but would let both businesses operate under one location (and basically restructure their entire operational overhead).
What does that mean? It means more art. More literature. More events. More toys. More pride.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked ‘What’s the best way for me to support you with your books?’ I’m beyond blessed that is asked of me, and I know it’s a position of privilege to be in. But one huge way you could do so, right now, if you’re willing?
Help Stonewall Wilde’s happen. Their Indiegogo campaign is right here. There are reward levels, and they’re pretty darn awesome. And, if all goes well, I’ll be launching Triad Soul, and all the other books I’ve got in me, at the new and improved Stonewall Wilde’s. This is something I believe in enough that, just like with Glad Day Books, I donated my book’s advance to the goal.
I’m lucky enough to work at Stonewall on occasion, and when I work, I get to do the thing I love the most: I get to talk about the art of others, and suggest it, and sell it. Bookselling has been a passion of mine for decades. Heck, if every author I’ve ever hand-sold dropped some cash in the jar for this merge and renovation, we’d be half-way to the goal already. I love bookselling, and I’m good at it. I say that with pride.
I want to keep doing it.
While Stonewall Wilde’s is a single fundraising goal (with a very real deadline), these next two are ongoing through Patreon, which is a fundraising process that is more of a subscription and monthly investment.
What’s Lethe Press? In their own words: Lethe Press began in 2001 as a home for queer and speculative fiction. Since then we have won numerous awards and acclaim for our books. Many readers feel like outsiders because of the sexual identity—our books are welcome reliefs to this problem; the gay and lesbian protagonists in our books have adventures, chase danger, fall in love, lead rich lives, and overcome the taint of homophobia. Our speculative fiction is imaginative and strange and wondrous.
Lethe Press is home to many, many of my short fiction pieces in the various anthologies the press has published, and as a writer of the fantastical, without Lethe, I have no doubt many of those tales simply wouldn’t have found a home.
Now, with Patreon, you can select a monthly level and garner rewards. I can tell you whole-heartedly that this level of support of a publisher creates a stability otherwise unknown in the publishing industry, and allows investment in new projects. I jumped at the ‘audiobook’ reward myself, because I constantly listen to audiobooks, and I’ve already started my first Lethe reward book. It’s awesome.
So, when it comes to #ownvoices, again people have asked me: “How do I support this?”
Well, if you’re wanting to promote LGBT voices, and you’re at all a fan of spec fic, sci-fi, fantasy, or horror? Look no further than Lethe’s Patreon, here.
Last in my trio discussion of ways to give back—but by no means least—I present to you WOC In Romance.
From the Facebook page:
Promoting the works of Women of Color in Romance Fiction. Brought to you by romance author Rebekah Weatherspoon.
This is place where readers and authors can find Women of Color who write Romance Fiction. **WOCInRomance Is Trans inclusive and open to gender fluid and non-binary authors as well.**
What defines “Romance” fiction?
Per Romance Writers of America: Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.
Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction. Click here to better understand the subgenres within romance.
Can I submit my work?
Are you a woman of color, well then heck yeah.
Can I submit someone else’s work? HECK YEAH!
We are always happy when any author includes characters of color in their work. We would love to keep this space of Authors Of Colors. Please do check out the #DiverseBooks movement and #WeNeedDiverseRomance, both of which focus more on characters in the books.
(If you want to submit work, either your own or a favourite author’s, go here.)
Now, you all know I love Rebekah (again, note the character name appearing in Triad Blood), and her work is brilliant. And so is the work of WOCInRomance. Via Twitter, I’ve discovered so many new authors.
Again, #ownvoices matter. Again, people ask me how they can help. Well, the Patreon page is right here. A sustained, important effort to bring noise to authors who are so often ignored and skipped by mainstream media, and connecting them with readers who are hungry for the stories that include them.
I know there are a billion things asking you for some of the limited attention, money, and time you’ve got. I live that, too. If you can, and you believe in these communities, please do give. If you can’t give, boost the signal. I don’t often ask for “shares” or “likes,” but this time—because it matters to me so freaking much, and I love these people—I’m going to ask you to do it.
And thanks. I’ll get back to crazy short story stuff, and silly updates, and lots of pictures of Coach pretty soon.
Coach, by the way, supports this message. The price of a coffee a month could make this dog smile. And lick his chops. And wag his tail. And don’t even get me started on his eyes…