Tag Archives: books

Happy

images[1]I attended a creative nonfiction conference this past weekend in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. W and one of the kids came with to enjoy my big, fancy hotel room.

I left the hotel room early in the morning while the two of them slept in. I popped in from time to time to use the bathroom or check in on them.

“You look so happy,” W said.

I couldn’t lie. And I couldn’t stop smiling. I was in my element. I was with a bunch of other people nerding out on using white space in an essay or the ethicality of composite characters in memoir. There was a entire panel discussion on truth in creative nonfiction.

We were all fangirl/fanboy when memoirist Mary Karr delivered the keynote Saturday evening.

Before we left for the conference, I was having second thoughts about attending.

“I’m not good with peoples,” I told W.

“You’ll be fine,” she said.

And I was. I had two of my writer group friends with me, which made things easier. I didn’t have to assume wallflower mode. Which is a good thing because none of the walls were flannel covered.

Plus, many writers are introverts, which meant we could all be awkward with one another without judgment. (Looks at floor.)

My writer tank has been filled.

And I’m still glowing from the weekend.

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What about you? What lights you up?

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Ahem. Announcements and stuff

Guys, here I am. It’s been way too long. I think I was still wearing flannel the last time I posted. We’re stuck in what they’re calling a “heat dome” here in the Philly burbs, so no summer flannel for this butch. 

I’ve been busy, folks. I haven’t been ignoring you because you think Cindy was the best Brady ever. Everyone knows it was Jan. Or because you’re a Yankees fan.

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Maybe a crown AND a cape like professional wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler wore back in the day.

You’re looking at one of the newest authors to sign with Regal Crest, a powerhouse in the world of lesbian literature. I’m sure I’ll get a crown or velvet cape any day now, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

I just finished the manuscript for the new book.  

Remember when you were a kid and you were playing outside and the whiffle ball got stuck in the gutter or the kickball landed in the creek? You always got a do-over.

This book is a lot like that. I had a chance to go through the current version of Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender and make edits. Tighten it up. Really, that’s every writer’s dream–one more chance to edit. I know, we’re weird creatures. 

Plus, the second edition, which is being billed as an author’s cut, has added content. New stories I wrote this past year specifically for this project. You’ll get to learn more about Middle-age Butch when she was big butch on her college campus and didn’t even know it. And of course, the book will include more of the those butch-tastic tales everyone loves like the hunt for the perfect buzz cut and the time-honored tradition of the clandestine butch nod. If you turned your head just now, you missed it.

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My trophy looked like this except it was invisible.

Also, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender was short listed for an award in creative nonfiction by the Golden Crown Literary Society. It didn’t win, but I still feel like a winner.

While I’m making announcements, I should mention that I’ve started my next book. The working title is Love Is Like Tiny Cheeseburgers: Essays from a Butch Romantic. Basically, it’s about me and W sitting in a tree and other stuff that makes your heart beat faster.

Hope you all feel like winners these days. Because you are. Big, beautiful winners. Now go hoist your invisible trophy over your head and shout out that you’re number 1!

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Ok, I told you what’s new with me. What’s new with you? Share one new thing. A new movie, a new book, a new place you visited. Anything. Go.

Flannel Files uncovers lost scene from Carol

IMG_0216CAROL:

What else do you like to do, Therese, besides listen to your hi-fi records?

THERESE:

Well, I like books.

CAROL:

Do you have a favorite author, Therese?

THERESE:

Rae Theodore. She works at the department store with me. She’s a terrific writer.

CAROL:

What an unusual name. Rae Theodore. Do you think I’d like her book?

THERESE:

I’m sure you would. She was married once just like you and Harge. And she writes about pretty girls with soft, feathery hair.

CAROL:

Maybe Abby would like this book?

THERESE:

Yes, girls like Abby would. Anyone, really. Haven’t we all felt different?

CAROL:

Where can I get this book?

THERESE:

Amazon.

CAROL:

(laughing)

Oh, Therese. From one of those tall, muscular women?

THERESE:

No. The online book retailer. Really, any place you can buy books on-line. Just type in Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.

By the way, Rae has a blog, too, called The Flannel Files. She writes about girls like her who wear neckties and brown boots and flannel shirts in every color of the rainbow.

images[10]CAROL:

(blushing; touches Therese’s arm)

Oh, Therese.

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This was a promotional piece I put together for a swag bag to be handed out at a local LGBT Oscar party tonight. Thought it would get more attention than a more traditional flyer, magnet or business card.

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Did you see Carol? Thoughts?

 

 

Does my story matter?

In the next few weeks, I am planning on reaching out to some local groups (gay-straight alliances, PFLAG, etc.) about my book.

The people I contacted in November and December said to try back in the new year.

In this in-between time, I am worrying that my story isn’t relevant in this day and age.

Mine is a story about growing up feeling different. It is a story about being a tomboy and not understanding why that me — the one who wore boys’ clothes and could throw a baseball farther than anyone on our block — was so offensive. It is a story about having feelings for other girls and then squashing them out of fear of what other people would think. It is a story about marrying a man, because isn’t that what I was supposed to do and wouldn’t that make my parents proud. And then coming out in my late 30’s, radically altering the trajectory of my life plans.

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A lesbian with a talk show. Gasp.

Things are so much different today. Kids are out at school. Same-sex marriage is legal in this country. Ellen is no longer in the closet and she has her own daytime talk show on a major network.

So, does anyone need to hear my story? Will anyone care? Will it make a difference?

I was reading Curve magazine the other day and Editor-in-Chief Merryn Johns had this to say:

“We lesbians, especially older lesbians, must record our histories so that the younger generations have a point of reference for their own lives, and have something to build upon.”

images[6]That’s what I’m trying to remember. That my story is a Lego block. And that others — this generation of young people who have so many more freedoms than I did — will use it to build upon, brick after brick after brick.

Until it forms a tower so tall it pokes into the clouds.

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What do you think? Are our old-timey stories still relevant?

Here’s what put the “Fest” in OutFest

Philly PrideI think I’ve finally recovered from OutFest.  If you don’t know, OutFest is the national Coming Out Day block party in Philadelphia.  Tens of thousands of people attend every year.

This year, I paid for a table to promote Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.  I sold books, handed out business cards, talked with anyone who stopped by and raffled off some sweet bowties to people who signed up to follow The Flannel Files.  A big shout out to all of my new followers!

I pretty much broke even after adding up all of my expenses.  But still, it was a beautiful gay day.  And me and W’s anniversary day to boot.

So, here are my top 10 highlights from OutFest:

10. Everyone who stopped by and talked Fun Home the Musical and “Ring of Keys” with me.  You really know how to make a butch’s day.

9. Those people who gave me fist bumps and high fives and said “I respect that” after I gave them the elevator pitch to my book.

8. The woman who wanted her picture taken with me because I had written a book.

7. The mother who wanted to buy her fresh-out-of-the-closet teen daughter the book, but the daughter wanted nothing to do with the book or me. “Buy it for yourself,” I told the mom.  And she did.  God bless you, mom and good luck.

6. All of the butches in all of their ball cap and cargo shorts and spiky hair glory. You are my tribe.  (Silent head nod.)

5. The guy who told me that he liked the cover to my book.  “We should all wear capes,” he said.  Amen, brother.

4. All the bois who read the back of my book, nodding their heads and saying “yep” to growing up tomboy, being called “sir,” etc.

3. Drag queens.

2. Me and W wearing matching “I Love My Wife” buttons and having everyone congratulate us when they learned it was our anniversary. I felt that people were truly happy for us and understood how big a deal it is that we were able to marry.  Marriage is something our community doesn’t take for granted.

1. Dinner out at a Cuban restaurant with family and friends after.  Our friend who married us last Oct. 11 — the “Right Reverend” — toasted us.  And everything came full circle.  And all was right in the world.

On Wookies and books and other stuff

Guys, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

Chewbacca and me. Abducted by a Wookie in Target of all places.

Chewbacca and me. Abducted by a Wookie in Target of all places.

This explains why I haven’t posted in so long.  It’s a complicated Butch in Spaaaace tale.

While I was away, my book got a really great review on the lesbian website Autostraddle.  You can check it out here.  Perhaps the best compliment any butch writer can get: “A smart and eloquent memoir about becoming butch, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender will resonate if you have a proud copy of Stone Butch Blues on your shelf, or listen to “Ring of Keys” from the Fun Home musical on repeat.”  That’s pretty great company, folks.

Speaking of Fun Home, just 15 days until W and I become official Fun Homies!

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I wanted to be this guy.

I just wrote a new memoir piece about my obsession with my brother’s Big Josh action figure.  Does anyone remember Big Jim and Big Josh?  Geez, Barbie was so lame in comparison.

If you like free stuff, I’m giving away two signed copies of my book on Goodreads.  You can enter here.  But don’t wait too long.  The giveaway ends Sept. 30.

That’s all the news for now.  What’s new with you?

Butch books

Fun HomeI am obsessed with Fun Home.

Like I’m changing my major to Fun Home.

I’m talking about the graphic memoir by the brilliant Allison Bechdel and the hit Broadway musical based on the book.

I tell W I’m a Fun Homie.

She grimaces.

But buys us tickets for our anniversary next month.

And sometimes sings Ring of Keys in the shower.

I bought Fun Home in 2007 from Giovanni’s Room, a gay bookstore in Philadelphia.

I just finished re-reading it in anticipation of the play.  I was sad like I always am when I finish a good book.

I started thinking about what to read next.  But when you’re a butch lesbian, how do you top Fun Home?

Stone Butch BluesAnd that’s when I read that Leslie Steinberg’s groundbreaking Stone Butch Blues is being made available for download to celebrate Leslie’s Sept. 1 birthday.  Click here to download your free copy.

So, I will be reading Stone Butch Blues tonight.  And thinking about Leslie Feinberg and Allison Bechdel and all the other butch writers who have made it a little easier for the rest of us to be ourselves.

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What are you reading?

Guest post on Women and Words

Guys, check out my guest post on the fabulously awesome Women and Words. Oh, and if you leave a comment, you’ll be in the running for a free copy of my book, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender. Because who doesn’t like free stuff?

Women and Words

Leaving Normal CoverHappy Sunday! We have a fabulous guest blogger for y’all today! Rae Theodore recently released her debut novel Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.

She’s here to tell us all about her inspiration for the book. And, because she’s super fabulous, she’s giving away a couple of paperback copies. Drop a comment in the space below and I’ll draw the winners next Friday, 7/17.

Good Luck!

Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender
by Rae Theodore

As I sit here wondering what to write for my guest post, I’m hyper-focused on the word “Women” from the Women and Words logo that sprawls in dark red script across the top of the website as if standing guard.

For a moment, I feel like an interloper, but I remind myself that I’m a different kind of woman.

Rae Theodore - photo

I’m a butch. A masculine-presenting woman. A cherry red Tootsie Pop with a center comprised of flannel shirts…

View original post 615 more words

A funny thing happened on the way to the writers’ retreat

So, yesterday I was preparing for my writers’ retreat.  Running errands, taking care of business.

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My car sounded like this guy.  God sounded like this guy.

And then my car started making a terrible noise.  It sounded something like Harvey Firestein.  With a head cold.

Long story short, it’s in the shop and being repaired.

Last night after I had dropped off the car, I told W that there was a part of me that wanted to back out of the retreat.  Cut my losses on the deposit.  Stay home for the weekend.

“I’m having car problems,” I would say.  “There’s no way I can make it.”

But I knew this whole car thing was God’s way of getting my attention.

“If you want something, you need to work for it,” I imagined him saying.  “How bad do you want to be a writer?”

Strangely, this voice also sounded like Harvey Firestein.

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This is my new notebook.  Awesome!

So, come hell or high water or car problems, I’m off this afternoon.  I have my notebooks packed, along with my statement of intention:

I accept this gift of time to write, reflect and be in the company of other writers.  I open myself to possibility.   

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What does your voice of the universe sound like?

How to win friends and more — be yourself

I am leaving for a writers’ retreat tomorrow.

I am excited and nervous.  I am in an almost-constant state of excitement and nervousness these days.

I tell myself not to feel guilty.  That it’s ok to spend money on this adventure.  That I am allowed to take time away for myself.  Old habits are hard to break.  Guilt is hard to outrun.

From the get go, W and I were not one of those couples who asked permission.  We are both adults with free choice and free will and our own spending money.

As I sit here writing this, I feel gratitude for her support.  For supporting this crazy habit called writing, which requires me to carry around tiny notebooks and pens at all times and jot down ideas and phrases at the most inopportune moments.  That has me leaving bits and pieces of my work and my writing tools in our bed, turning that soft place where we sleep into a paper-cut and pen-poking hazard.

I think back to those days when I was still in the closet and had a fear of being alone.  I thought people wouldn’t like me if they knew I liked women.  I thought people wouldn’t like me if they knew the real me.

There’s nothing like publishing a memoir to remove any last, forgotten items from the back of the closet.  A mangled umbrella, a partnerless tube sock.

What I’ve learned is that I actually have more friends now that I am out and open and me.  Butch me who likes women and neckties and suspenders and baseball.  Weird me who likes Wonder Woman and Cream of Wheat and books about dysfunctional people.

I have a newer writer friend who gave me a glitter pen to sign books at my book launch party.  And this awesome “You Rock” rock that I’m taking to my writers’ retreat.

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This is how I like my glitter — in a pen.  And thank you for noticing that I rock.

I have old friends who gave me this awesome metal sculpture stamped: “Rae Theodore, Published Author.”  They tell me they are proud of my achievement.

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Do you see the likeness?

It’s not about material things.  So many people have given me a thumbs up by sending thoughtful e-mails, offering a kind remark or just being present in my life.

So, the moral of the story?  Be yourself, be honest, be kind.  That’s good enough for most folks.  At least the ones who matter.

Oh, and if you’re real lucky, you might find your better half.  The one who makes you believe that you can do it, that you deserve it, that you deserve her.  The one who becomes your biggest fan and thinks everything you do is perfect (all the while admitting her bias).  The one who says you look cute in a bowtie and a necktie and in that baseball cap that you wear backward on the day you don’t feel like showering.

I dedicated my book to W with this: “To my wife, who thinks me a better writer and person than I really am.”

And I think how lucky I am to have found someone who always sees the best version of me, even when I can’t.  Especially when I can’t.

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How does your partner support those things that make you who you are?