Singing a Happy iTune

That Lonely Sinking Feeling - High ResTechnology is a funny thing. I’ve always been one to be way behind the curve, and although I have always used Macs at home for working and writing, they are never the fresh and new models but reliable old workhorses. I’ve never used an iPod, don’t own an iPhone. I finally broke down and bought a used iPad, which is the first generation (as far as I can tell), made when Steve Jobs was still alive.

iTunes has always been a bit of a mystery to me, too. I’ve used iTunes occasionally for music, but more often for playing mp3s of dictation files that I’m transcribing. Pretty boring, right? Yeah, but I always resent when the cultural dictum comes down from above: You have to consume your entertainment this way. This is the new and flashy way and everybody’s going to adopt it. Well, I usually don’t!

So I have not yet been able to read my own books on Apple. They’re just there. Maybe that will change soon, because as Mark Coker of Smashwords informed us, iOS 8 is now going to come with an iTunes app built in.  Now, what that will look like, I’m not sure. I don’t have any new devices! But because I know I do have some iTunes readers out there, I set two ebooks free for the foreseeable future. My Dorothy Richardson study is free, as is my short memoir That Lonely, Sinking Feeling: A Memoir of Love, Friendship and Letting Go.

Meanwhile, my latest queer memoir, It’s Not You, It’s Me, is released tomorrow on Kindle! It is part of the Kindle Unlimited program, so it’s free for KU subscribers. I was pleased to see that the Australian Amazon store placed it in their lesbian studies category, along with provocative titles like Shiri Eisner’s Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution, which I am looking forward to reading.

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Now on Pre-order: It’s Not You, It’s Me

My new memoir is released on September 21.

My new memoir is released on September 21.

Just a note to say that my 14,000 -word memoir, “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” is on pre-order right now at Amazon and will be released September 21!

I wrote this memoir about two years after a devastating breakup with a female ex, trying to make sense of it, really. Now, 16 years after the breakup, I’ve gotten past my initial strong emotions and, as I revised it, have been able to paint a truer picture, I hope, of what “really happened” between me and my ex. It’s also a story of San Francisco in the ’90s and how transient relationships can be in this city, especially in the queer community.

I’m glad, then, that I waited this long to publish it, and that Amazon allows me a venue to do so.

Here’s a little taster below:

A long time ago, I joined an LGBT running club—as a walker. That’s how this story begins.

September 1995. The first time I met Eileen I was standing beside my car in Golden Gate Park, ready to go off to the women’s brunch. My friend Suzanne and I had just finished walking around Stow Lake, as part of the San Francisco gay and lesbian running club FrontRunners, which met at the lake on Saturdays. But we were just walkers. While the male and female runners took off across the park en masse, Suzanne and I and sometimes a couple of other “unfit” women got to amble at a gentle pace for an hour around the pretty, luridly green lake, past clusters of ducks and the always-surprising sight of turtles lying out in the sun on wooden stumps.

Suzanne was tall, with clipped hair, glasses, and a baby face, while I at age 28 was shorter, plump, and voluptuous, my dark hair medium-length and messy. Out of shape as I was, I did not receive much beyond surface friendliness from the jockish, lean women there. Yet I was tolerated and for that I was grateful, for I had never known what it was like to be accepted. I had not fit in at school, or at college, and now in the lesbian community, it seemed, I was also a misfit. The party line at the club, though, was that everyone was welcome—gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, all sizes, and all races. I had not yet really begun to question the rhetoric.

We were setting off to the weekly post-exercise brunch at a local cafe in the Inner Sunset when one of the club officers asked if I could give Eileen a ride; she was new in town. It seems unlikely, looking back, that she would have asked me herself. A tall, pale, compact-looking girl with a mass of thick brown hair got into the back of my car. She looked wholesome and Midwestern, my type, and in fact she told us she was from Nebraska, an Irish-American Catholic no less.

“I’m from Ireland myself,” I told her. “I’ve been here since ’88.”

“Oh really,” she said. “Do you miss it?”

“No,” I answered. “I didn’t really like growing up there. I always felt like a fish out of water. I was glad to leave.”

She seemed to enjoy my candor. Much later she told me that that was what she first liked about me, the fact that I wasn’t crazy about Ireland. It seemed a strange thing to pick up on. What I found appealing in her, oddly enough, was her shyness. She seemed a little tentative, still new and green to the ways of the city. A little remote, a little sad. I even wrote about it in my diary that night, that I’d met a new girl, liked her, that she’d seemed shy and sweet. She reminded me physically of women I’d known in Ireland—pale, repressed, angular in face, self-possessed. A twinge of familiarity had passed through me when I’d seen her. But it seemed like she hadn’t felt the same sense of recognition.

It wasn’t the beginning of anything. Not at all. The next time I remember seeing Eileen at the club, maybe a couple of months later, I got quite a shock. A skinny woman in bright-blue Lycra running shorts brushed past me, her mop of hair cut short and curly. Giving me a goofy grin, she said loudly, “Hi, Gabriella!” This offhand brashness annoyed me. I stared at her in astonishment, something contemptuous probably flashing in my eyes. I didn’t respond.

Without thinking about it, I wrote her off. She’d gone over to the other side. But what did that mean? The girl I’d thought was an introvert was in fact an extrovert. She was an officer of the running club now. Everyone liked her, she was endearing, and she was friends with the “in” crowd. She passed out of my world, no longer a potential friend. For about a year, we barely spoke. She was never rude to me, just simply kept me at arm’s length.

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Why you should or should not self-publish your book…

Gabriella West:

Author Shannon Yarbrough, who’s been both self- and traditionally published, shares some heartfelt thoughts on the self-publishing scene.

Originally posted on The Lone Writer: Shannon Yarbrough:

Years ago there was a time when self-publishing was new and exciting for me. And before that, yeah, there was a time when I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Way back when, like most, I learned from the web. I searched blogs and sites for the best advice. I took notes. I blogged about it myself. Asked questions on other blogs. Bought books about self-publishing. Eventually, and after three self-published books, I felt comfortable enough in giving advice to other newbies and sharing my experience. I started a blog called The LL Book Review which was devoted to helping indie authors and reviewing them. I had a team of almost ten bloggers by the time our five year run was over.

Today, when it comes to the subject, I admit I’m out of touch. I feel like I’ve been out of high school for a few years…

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Review: Getting Rooted in New Zealand

The delightful cover of 'Getting Rooted in New Zealand.'

The delightful cover of ‘Getting Rooted in New Zealand.’

This has been such a heavy month. We lost Robin Williams, there was a sizeable earthquake in Napa that had many of us waking at 3.20am wondering if it was “the big one,” and it doesn’t look good for Joan Rivers at the moment. So I decided to post a review of a book that I normally wouldn’t have read.

Jamie Baywood’s ebook popped up for me as a Fussy Librarian selection, and I decided to take a chance on it. It was the right book at the right time, the humorous memoir of an American woman working as a clueless temp in New Zealand.

Baywood is a 26-year-old Petaluma, CA, native who impulsively moves to New Zealand when her job at a Whole Foods-like grocery store folds. She signs up as a temp worker in NZ (I had no idea that Americans can legally work there, so thanks for that, Jamie!). She gets a succession of grotty flats and works in a number of lousy temp positions, the last one being for a screaming boss called Selma Shark. By then she’s met a nice divorced Scottish guy working as a gardener whose father has somehow been knighted (don’t ask, she never explains).

The memoir is told in diary form. While I laughed at Jamie’s descriptions, it was hard not to laugh AT her sometimes. She is very good at picking up body language and speech and telling it even if it embarrasses her. For example, here is a famous theatre director’s reaction to her: “He smiles and looks at me closely, as if examining me with his green eyes that seem to go right through me. I can’t tell if he is amused or horrified; there seems to be a mix of attraction and repulsion chemistry coming from him. Sometimes he stares so closely that I think he’s about to kiss me; other times he looks as if he wants to put duct tape over my mouth.”

Jamie just doesn’t seem to know how she is coming across—as a crass and rude American. There are many WTF episodes in the book where I scratched my head and thought, “Did she really say that??” It doesn’t always go over well with coworkers. One strange example is where she jokes that one young straight male coworker has given another a hand job, causing horrified stares and silence from the people she’s trying to win over. There’s no self-awareness, though. None whatsoever.

Jamie initially makes a big deal of trying to be single for a year after numerous crappy relationships, so it’s rather depressing to see her running right back into a codependent relationship at the end of her time in NZ. And because her beloved is European and she’s American, she gets to marry him so they can stay together…! Again, the stunned reaction from people around the couple is not the reaction you would WANT to ideally get when you announce you’re getting married. By the end of the book, when she announces, “I came to this country for an adventure, not to cry in a cubicle,” the reader gets an idea of the arrogance behind her wide-eyed charm.

But I’d still recommend it!

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‘Dorothy Richardson: A Close Reading’ Is Free Through Monday

A Close Reading 2My short literary study of modernist writer Dorothy Richardson came out as an ebook in May, and I’m happy to announce that it is free (regularly $2.99) on Amazon Kindle through Monday, August 11, just in time for grad students and professors (or anyone interested in modernist women writers or literary criticism) to snap it up…

Dorothy Richardson: A Close Reading now has a stylish new cover by the talented Jes Richardson (no relation, I assume!) of Coverbistro design. I think it nicely evokes the period.

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Dublin Writer’s Museum.

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on SurreyKitchen:
I am not one for clichéd tourist destinations, always having preferred to browse the shelves of Shakespeare and Co in Paris rather than visit the Eiffel Tower.  I am proud to say I have never been…

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Smashwords Summer/Winter sale

Time of Grace1Smashwords‘ Summer/Winter sale (July 1-31) has been underway for awhile now. I wanted to mention that three of my ebooks are enrolled in the promotion. Two (Time of Grace and Connecting the Dots) are discounted and one (Night Train to Florence) is free! Just use the coupon code that Smashwords supplies on the book page at checkout.

The nice thing, too, is that Smashwords has made it very easy to search for books on sale in the category you prefer. For lesbian fiction, for example, use this link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1127/newest/1

As always, there are bargains to be had and new authors to discover.

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365 of Me: 185/181

Originally posted on The Lone Writer: Shannon Yarbrough:

HAPPY

011

INDEPENDENCE

013
DAY!

012

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365 of Me: 176/190

This gallery contains 25 photos.

Originally posted on The Lone Writer: Shannon Yarbrough:
We added two new lilies to the garden on Sunday. I counted at least 10 other lilies in bloom, with only two left that haven’t bloomed yet. Here are two photos of…

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Review: A Tragic Honesty by Blake Bailey

Richard Yates (1926-1992), the author of Revolutionary Road and other novels, was a damaged man who produced beautiful, bleak books while he indulged his addictions and was in and out of mental hospitals due to frequent mental breakdowns (Yates was bipolar). As described by Blake Bailey in the absorbing literary biography A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates, he may have had one of the worst lives of any of the great writers.

Despite influential friendships, supportive publishers, and winning grants and awards, he lived in horrible, squalid apartments all his life. Every writer will feel a surge of recognition at his artistic dilemmas and his struggle to balance art and making a living. He gave up on the relationship front pretty early, though he fathered three daughters and was a better father than he was a husband.

As the son of a divorced, spendthrift, alcoholic mother who thought she was a great sculptor but never achieved much recognition and remained emotionally dependent on her increasingly distant son, Yates was haunted by his past and was particularly ambivalent about writing autobiographical fiction. Later in life he came to terms with it. From the biography: “There were other times, fortunately, when he knew better. ‘All I write about is family,’ Elizabeth Cox told him. ‘That’s all there is to write about,’ Yates replied.”

Yates had to endure humiliating experiences as he aged and his books went out of print in the ’70s and ’80s:

“That winter he was invited to give a reading at the University of Massachusetts (Boston), but not a single person showed up. He sat in the silent lecture hall while his two sponsors gazed at their watches; finally Yates suggested they adjourn to a bar. He didn’t seem particularly surprised.” 

Bailey’s sense of tragic irony is note-perfect throughout. I laughed often and made copious notes. My sympathy stayed with Yates through the entire long book, which is a marvel, given his lifelong homophobia and sexism. But Bailey is that good at capturing the essential sweetness of the man while never ignoring his flaws.

Since I haven’t read any Yates at all, I have a treat in front of me.

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