Call for Submissions: Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction

Y’all.  I haven’t been nearly as active on this blog as I was last year, but that’s because I’ve been a little busy. Between the new job, trying to finish the dissertation, and starting a small press, a girl has been a little tied up. But good news! Today I am releasing the first call for submissions for my press, (see below), and I hope that some of you will contribute. I am partnering with my Lez Talk Books Radio co-host (and manager of Resolute Publishing) to publish an anthology of short fiction by Black lesbian writers. We are very excited about this project, and we hope you are too! If you want to know more about the press, visit BLF Press.  You can also find out more about our collaboration by visiting Black Lesbian Fiction.

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Inspired by the work of our Black lesbian literary foremothers, Jewelle Gomez, Audre Lorde, Becky Birtha, Ann Allen Shockley, and others, BLF Press and Resolute Publishing will produce a collection of Black lesbian short fiction that amplifies the diversity of Black lesbian experiences. We operate under the assumption that “lesbian” is not a dirty word, and seek submissions from Black women who identify as lesbian and write in the genre of fiction about lesbian experiences. We welcome submissions from writers in varying stages of their writing careers, from seasoned to novice.

Inspired by the work of our Black lesbian literary foremothers, Jewelle Gomez, Audre Lorde, Becky Birtha, Ann Allen Shockley, and others, BLF Press and Resolute Publishing will produce a collection of Black lesbian short fiction that amplifies the diversity of Black lesbian experiences. We operate under the assumption that “lesbian” is not a dirty word, and seek submissions from Black women who identify as lesbian and write in the genre of fiction about lesbian experiences. We welcome submissions from writers in varying stages of their writing careers, from seasoned to novice.

Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction embraces the fullness of Black lesbian experiences— conveying how richly emotional, loving, passionate, adventurous, and talented we are. The editors seeks stories that:

  • cross a range of fictional genres (e.g. romance, speculative, mystery, humor, horror, coming-of-age)
  • merge the themes of Black and lesbian; affirm the interconnectedness of race+gender+sexual orientation; express how Black America/America experiences our race+gender+sexual orientation
  • explore new subjects and aspects of our experiences
  • showcase the uniqueness and beauty of Black lesbian love and lives
  • affirm our gifts as writers and lesbian women.

SUBMISSIONS: All submissions should be previously unpublished work. Short stories should range from 1500–5000 words. Two entries per person are welcome, although only one may be selected for publication. Submit Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or rich text files (.rtf) with one-inch margins and 12-point Times New Roman font. Each submission should be a single document attached to your email. Name the document as your first and last name [e.g. “Janesha Doe” or “Janesha_Doe”]. Do not send submissions in the body of the email. We also request a bio of 200 words. Email submissions to leztalkbooksradio@gmail.com.

COMPENSATION & RIGHTS: Authors will receive one payment of $25.00 USD upon acceptance and one printed copy of the anthology. Authors may purchase print copies
of the anthology at cost.

The publisher (BLF Press) requests exclusive rights to the print and electronic/digital editions of submissions for two years from publication. After two years, contributors retain all rights to the publication of their work. Contributors are asked to sign a one-page publishing agreement. Visit the following site to view the agreement:
Lez Talk Publishing Agreement

DEADLINES & ACCEPTANCE: Submissions are due on May 31, 2015. The editors will acknowledge the receipt of all submissions. Contributors whose work is selected for publication will be notified on 6/30/15. The anthology will be published and available on 9/1/15. Contributors will receive updates about the progress of the publication. Payments will be disbursed on 7/15/15.

THE EDITORS: Lez Talk is partnership between BLF Press publisher S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle, manager of Resolute Publishing. Stephanie and Lauren co-host Lez Talk Books Radio, a podcast featuring Black lesbian writers.

  • S. Andrea Allen’s works in progress include A Failure to Communicate (2015), a collection of short fiction, and a collection of creative non-fiction, Black Lesbian Feminist: Essays (2016).
  • Lauren Cherelle is the author of the novels Accept the Unexpected (2011) and The Dawn of Nia (2015), and the short story A Secret Validation (2013).

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LTBR

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This is Not a Book Review

So, do y’all know how it feels when you finally get a book that you’ve been waiting for but you’re scared to open it? The very idea gets your heart to racing and your palms get all sweaty and you keep reading the back cover trying to psych yourself out, ’cause you know that this book is everything you’ve been waiting for and more. And once you start reading it you know that nothing else in your life is going to matter, that you will NOT be bothered until you finish it?   Y’all know what I’m talmbout. The way we feel when we know that Toni Morrison has a new book coming out.

Well, that’s how I’m feeling right now, and although I know Mama Morrison has a new one coming out in April, that’s not the book that’s giving me the bubble guts right now.  That book would be Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. I’ve just purchased my copy and I’m so anxious that I decided to write this blog instead of just reading it.  Lest I sound like a crackpot, let me explain.BSmith_coverx400d

Barbara Smith is a Black lesbian feminist icon.  Her essay “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism,” written in 1977 formed the foundation of my own theory for writing about Black lesbian literature, and I am currently using it as the theoretical underpinning for my dissertation.  Her work with the Combahee River Collective, in particular their bold statement of interlocking oppressions and feminist organizing would help to shape my own thinking on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, and lead me to “coming out” as a Black lesbian feminist in grad school.  Her work as a publisher, specifically the creation of Kitchen Table Women of Color Press with her sister Beverly, inspired me to start my own small press. I believe as Mama Morrison does, that if there is a book that hasn’t been written that you want to read, write it yourself. It follows then that if you want to see something in print that has yet to be published, do it yourself. That’s what Barbara Smith did, and I believe with all my heart that I can do it too.

Before writing this post I spent 20 minutes trying to decide whether to by this new book about Smith’s life and work in print or download to my iPad. I finally decided to do both:  I downloaded it because I could not bear to wait the two days it would take to get to my house. But I still need the print copy; I have to feel this book in my hands. Call me crazy, but the print book somehow seems more real, a physical representation of archive of this great woman’s work.

At some point tomorrow I’ll start to read it. I can’t tonight; if I start it I’ll stay up all night reading, and I have to get up early to go to work.  The struggle is real, y’all.

So no, this is not a review of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, but rather a love letter (albeit a strange one) to one of my heroes, a woman I’ve never met but whose work has had a huge impact on my life and work.  I owe a huge debt to Smith and her generation of activists and writers, and I doubt many of the LGBT or queer scholars working today would be able to do the work that we are doing without Smith’s tireless efforts and advocacy on behalf of Black women, lesbians, and other oppressed peoples.  I’m grateful to the editors, Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks as well, because I know this book must have been a labor of love.

Thank you.

S.O.

BLE- Black Lesbian Entertainment, Pt. 1

I’ve been thinking about this for a minute, and I still haven’t worked it all out. But here are a few preliminary thoughts. This may turn into an all out rant, so forgive me in advance. One of the lesbian groups I follow on Twitter tweeted something like “if you’re not a loving it, you’re a hater,” or something similar. My immediate response was to reply with something about binaries and dichotomies, but I restrained myself, mainly because I have other things to do, but partly because I had a feeling that the point would be lost in translation. In other words, I needed more than 140 characters to say what I need to say.

So, to the young women who insist that I’m a hater if I do not subscribe to their brand, or that I don’t love them enough, here are a few choice ones. First, I appreciate your form of expression, even though you seem to subscribe to the same heterosexist patriarchal system that I am working to tear down. I don’t know you, so I can’t be sure. But are you really transgressing gender boundaries, or are you merely mimicking the very system that seeks to destroy you? Second, I’ve never once mentioned how tired I am of you tweeting about your latest YouTube video or what you are having for dinner.  Sure, I could hit the “unfollow” button. But I haven’t. Yet. Wanna know why? Because I try to show my support for my “sistas in the struggle,” because I realize that there are so few outlets for us to showcase our work, and it’s so hard for us to connect with each other in the first place.

Perhaps I’m too old for this thing, but I’m bothered by the fact that your mission seems is to “exploit this lifestyle,” as if those of us who claim lesbian, gay, trans, bi, or queer identities, are living a lifestyle. Do you understand that this is the language that they use to deprive us of our full rights as citizens in this country and others? That this is why some of us lose our friends, families, and livelihoods, because they think we have a choice?  No, you probably don’t. You call yourselves activists. But I don’t know any activists that charge their fans fees to Skype with them, or that can be hired to create personal greetings. Seriously? Seriously????????

And to my sister who knocked the Facebook meme last week that encouraged us to change our photos to help raise child abuse awareness: Shame on you! You have no problems tweeting, emailing, or Facebooking about your “events” for black lesbians. Is there a party that you won’t promote? But you were downright nasty to those of us who actually did change our photos, not understanding that the dialogue that erupted from such a simple act might cause someone to think twice if they see or suspect that a child is being abused, that someone might now recognize the signs of child abuse, and know who to call to get help for the child or the parent. So how about you use your privilege to do something for someone other than yourself? I’ve been on your list-serve for YEARS, and not once have I ever seen you promote an event that benefited a non-profit group. But maybe I missed it. Well, I suspect I’ll miss them all now, since I’ve unsubscribed.

Yeah, I’m on my soap-box, and feel free to try to knock me down if you dare. But folks, I’m not trying to knock anyone’s hustle. But if you’ve been fortunate enough to be blessed with followers or fans, why not try to give something back to the various communities to which you belong? Have you donated any of your profits to the needy, the hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ homeless youth, or perhaps invited a starving artist out for dinner? Without the cameras? Hell, do you even know that they exist? No one’s asking you to give up your wealth, if you have any, but if you want me to give up any of MY duckies, I want to know how you are using them. Presumptuous? No doubt. Idealistic? Probably. Am I doing my part? You better believe it.

I’m not hating, but I don’t think BLE is the type of “activism” that Audre, Barbara, Pat, Gloria, or Cheryl had in mind.  More on this later.