desayunoencama: (Default)
So, I got a Dreamwidth invite in the random lottery and have signed up. Still trying to import my LJ and see how this all works. Still on the road, too, so may be a while before I figure everything out! But here's a test post to see if this crossposts to LJ as well.
desayunoencama: (Default)

Signing at Sant Jordi
Originally uploaded by desayunoencama.
Yesterday was a long but good day, signing books along the Ramblas in Barcelona.

It was a nice day, warm but not too hot. Was lucky enough to sign in the shade most of the time. I got to see many friends, and meet some new people as well.

One man who'd come to my first Sant Jordi, ten years ago, showed up and bought my new poetry book! :-)

Signed 33 books in all over the course of the day.

Then there was the party thrown by EL MUNDO, then dinner, then collapse.

Now up far too early to go see one of my kidzbook editors. I think I'll be having a long siesta between that and my next social thingey at 5 with a translator and a poet/editor...

Sant Jordi

Apr. 23rd, 2009 11:17 am
desayunoencama: (Default)
Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi a tothom!
Happy World Book Day!
My favorite holiday!
Give a book and a rose to your loved ones!
:-)
desayunoencama: (Default)
Since today is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Rememberance Day, I thought I'd post this piece, from a cycle of poems I'm working on, looking at the Holocaust through the lens of the Grimm fairy tales, both arising from the same black forests of Germany.

Kristallnacht
by Lawrence Schimel

She wore glass spectacles
for her vision was clouded,
as if that night her family's home
was burned to the ground in a pogrom
the smoke had gotten into her eyes
and never left them.

They named her Cinderella
when they pulled her from the ashes,
their hearts going soft because
she was only three years old.
Years later, her stepsisters teased
that she was named Cinderella
because she was dark as soot.
They pinched her bold nose
and pulled her black hair
and powdered their pale faces
to go to parties with the Vienese elite.

Cinderella was never invited
to attend these lavish functions;
her foster family left her at home,
working while they danced,
dreaming of the day she was asked to accompany them.
She was always certain it would not be long,
and therefore worked unfailingly, hoping
for approval.

While her stepsisters primped and prepped
to waltz among princes, Cinderella walked
to the market, stepping over sewage in the gutters,
dodging the nimble rats that boldly crossed
the streets in search of food. A kindly frau
who sat beside a cart of squash--yellow gourds
and fat pumpkins like lumpy little suns--stopped her.
She took Cinderella's hands into her own.
"You look so sad. I will help you."
The woman drew Cinderella into the shadows
of the alleyway, and pulled papers from her pocket.
"Take these," she said. "They are mine,
but I am old. Go to America instead of me.
Find a new life. Send for your family,
if any are still alive. I am too old to begin again.
But for you, there is still hope for you."

Cinderella stared at this woman."I am
no Jew," she said, handing back the papers.
She walked away, but the frau's words--
the insinuations, the generosity--
haunted her. She walked faster,
trying to outrun the echoes in her mind.

Passing a shop window, Cinderella saw
a pair of slippers made of glass.
If she had been invited to the ball,
she thought, she would wear those.
She stared at them,
and her reflection stared back:
swart, square. Semitic.

She bought the slippers with the grocery money
and hurried back to the now-empty house.
Cinderella powdered her face
with the stepsister's cosmetics,
put on one of their dresses.
She tied her dark hair in a knot
hiding it beneath a silver scarf.
But still her nose betrayed her.
She didn't care. She slipped on her glass shoes
and made her way across town to the gala,
dreaming of finding a prince who would love her
and adore her and take her away to an enchanted life
where it did not matter that she looked like a jew.

The party was as dazzling as she had dreamed.
No one stopped her at the door, or paid her any
notice at all, it seemed, though some people stared.
No one spoke to her. And then a shriek
made Cinderella the focus of six hundred eyes,
as her two stepsisters ran toward her.
"You are not fit to be seen here!" they cried.
They snatched the spectacles from her face
and, in front of the assembled crowd,
crushed them underfoot with a delicate
twist of the toe, grinding downward.

Cinderella's vision blurred without her glasses.
Tears burned in her eyes, and then suddenly
the smoke that had clouded her sight
for as long as she could recall
lifted. She saw, at last, what she had always
refused to see before: these people had killed
her family, had meant to kill her as well.

She stood there, numb, as the stepsisters
poked and pushed her. They stepped
on her toes and broke her glass slippers
into hundreds of sharp splinters.

Cinderella left the shards of her glass shoes
on the dance floor and walked barefoot
out of the hall, leaving footprints of blood
behind her. She was never seen again.
desayunoencama: (Default)
Amazon in the US continues making moral judgments, in this case censoring an image of two lesbians kissing (nothing more!) on the cover of this UK lesbian erotica book by Charlotte Cooper.

Compare these two links:

Amazon.com (US)
http://www.amazon.com/Cherry-Red-Diva-Charlotte-Cooper/dp/1873741731/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239784020&sr=8-1

Amazon.co.uk (UK)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cherry-Red-Diva-Charlotte-Cooper/dp/1873741731/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239697617&sr=1-19

#glitchmyass

Update: Same censored cover on B&N.com:
http://books.barnesandnoble.com/search/results.aspx?WRD=charlotte+cooper+cherry

I'm afraid the bigots are learning to manipulate the system too well.

And the systems are flawed and open to this sort of external manipulation.

(If you look at "Customers Who Bought Related Items Also Bought" on Amazon, the titles are all noxious things like COMING OUT STRAIGHT, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE GAY, CAN HOMOSEXUALITY BE HEALED?, etc.)
desayunoencama: (Default)
Aunque parece increíble, la editorial sigue enviando a la prensa información incorrecto sobre mis firmas en Sant Jordi, como si estuvieron intentando activamente sabotear mis esfuerzos para promocionar el libro (y encima, el viaje lo pago yo).

Seguro que es una cuestión de incompetencia, lamentable tan frecuente en el mundo editorial (en general y en particular), pero me frusta mucho.

Así que, el horario correcto de mis firmas el día de Sant Jordi:

12-14 en la parada del CASAL LAMBDA, delante de la iglesia del Carmen en las Ramblas

18-19 en la parada de la librería COMPLICES, delante de EL PALACIO DE LA VIRREINA
y

19-21 en la parada de la librería ANTINOUS, también delante de EL PALACIO DE LA VIRREINA

Si alguien desea comprar uno de mis libros en concreto, especialmente los títulos en inglés que no se encuentran fácilmente aquí en España, avísame y si tengo ejemplares suficientes los llevaré a Barcelona conmigo.
desayunoencama: (Default)
The UK Queer journal CHROMA has a CFS for a special issue on UTOPIAS. For more info: More info: http://chromajournal.co.uk/

###

Issue 11: Utopia
Deadline 15 June 2009
Guest Editor: Sophie Mayer

From Margaret Cavendish's "blazing world" in the seventeenth century to Time Agent Captain Jack Harkness in the fifty-first, the places and people of speculative fiction have given writers and artists an opportunity to speculate about new forms of gender and sexuality -- going beyond queer, pansexuality and transsexualities to imagine the identities and desires of humanoid, post-human and non-human lifeforms. While the culture of mainstream SF, fantasy and comics has often been hostile to women, queer people and people of colour, brilliant science fiction writers since the 60s have aroused, mirrored and incited feminist and queer social revolutions and artistic development -- think of Joanna Russ' The Female Man, Star Trek slash fiction, Samuel Delany's polymorphous postmodern fictions or Kate Bornstein's cyberpunk erotica.

Stories, poems, comics, drawings, photographs - if it fits into a journal, we want to see it.

New book

Apr. 16th, 2009 05:14 pm
desayunoencama: (Default)
Contributors are starting to report getting their copies of SECOND PERSON QUEER. None in Madrid yet, but nice to know it's out in the world. Soon maybe it'll even be spotted in the wilds of bookstore shelves and all.
:-)

You can find the book from Indeiebound.org:
http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781551522456
(Which will locate an indie store near you to buy it from. many great queer/feminist bookstores, like Outwrite in Atlanta or Women & Children First in Chicago, are part of the indiebound network.)

or Powell's:
http://powells.com/biblio/1-9781551522456-0

It's 10% off at TLA Video:
http://www.tlavideo.com/product/2-0-277192_second-person-queer.html?sn=1

And 20% off at B&N.com:
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Second-Person-Queer/Richard-Labont/e/9781551522456/?itm=1
(More if you're a member.)
desayunoencama: (Default)
As of 4pm on Tuesday, my Amazon Sales Ranking are back.

HOWEVER, the search functionality is still not working. Not only are my gay books still not showing up: sometimes not at all, sometimes not in the proper order, even when they have better sales ranks than my non-gay books.

When one types in "Lawrence Schimel" from the main amazon.com page, the first gay book to show up is the Kindle version of PoMoSEXUALS at slot 16. (The Kindle store has its own ranking system, so apples and oranges to the print rankings.)

My most recent gay title, BEST GAY POETRY 2008, has Amazon.com Sales Rank: #604,593 in Books.

However, BEST GAY POETRY 2008 does not even show up in the top 50 (and a search from the main page only shows 50 items, then you have to go to a specific department).

Despite BEST GAY POETRY 2008 selling better than the first two non-gay titles of mine which show up:

1.FAIRY TALES FOR WRITERS
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #830,921 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

2.FIELDS OF BLOOD: VAMPIRE STORIES FROM THE AMERICAN HEARTLAND
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1,456,863 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

So either they haven't fixed the glitch completely yet or the suppression of ooky homosexual titles continues...
desayunoencama: (Default)
There are two primary issues here, I think, which can be broken down into:

A) Who has the authority to determine what is or is not obscene or morally objectionable?

and

B) How Amazon has reacted over the past months to works that have been deemed "morally objectionable" by some of their clients.

Both issues, however, involve power struggles, imbalances, and abuses.

Questions of obscenity such as Issue A are almost always a case of a majority group--already in power--attacking and suppressing a minority group.

The reasons for the attack are almost irrelevant.

Whether one group is trying to impose their morality on everyone or the very existence of the minority group undermines or calls into question some fundamentals they hold as doctrine or just makes them feel less powerful, the bottom line is that a powerful group uses its power to squelch a less-powerful group or groups.

In the case of amazonfail, this was metonymic: not the groups themselves but cultural manifestations of the groups, so it included works with LGBT content, works of alternative erotica and other sex-positive texts, etc. These victim groups happen to have strong collective identities--which in part emerge from or are reinforced by the homophobia, misogyny, sex-negativity, etc. they have to endure and fight against from the mainstream culture--and are also internet-saavy and vocal; they were able to spread the word quickly and widely.

A rhetorical question:
What would have happened if some white supremacists, for instance, had systematically tried to rig the system to derank works by writers of color?

Especially communities of color who, for whatever reason--questions of access, socialization, etc.--aren't as internet-enabled...

It's quite likely what was going on might have gone unnoticed for much longer.

One of the reasons many minority groups have watchdog organizations like the Anti-Defamation League or GLAAD is because they need them to combat anti-semitism or homophobia/lesbophobia/transphobia, respectively, in the two cited instances.

(Having grown up as a Jew in America, when I came out of the closet as a gay man in my late teens, I suddenly went from belonging to a minority of perhaps 2% to a much larger minority of 10%!)

But I digress. The underlying fundament of Issue A is a question of wanting both power and control and using it to imposing one's personal belief system on others.

It's pretty obvious that for Issue B, Amazon has responded badly and irresponsibly by using an automated system that deranked titles with objections against them--without inquiry or recourse.

Many (though by no means all) libraries and schools, for instance, have systems in place to protect books which have been challenged, and even in today's fully-automated world their challenge systems are not simply a one-click process. There are checks and balances in place to prevent rigging the system.

Those of us who've been in the LGBT publishing and bookselling field for a while will remember the targeted and biased homophobia by Canada Customs and Vancouver LGBT bookstore Little Sister's Book and Art Emporium.

Some over-simplified backstory: Sex-negative anti-pornography activists Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon equated all pornography with rape and male violence against women, and in 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada incorporated some of their anti-pornography legal work into their obscenity law (in the decision R. v. Butler).

In practice, Canada Customs used this obscenity legislation not to impede the importation of actual works of heterosexual works of pornography which might conceivably be considered violence against women (an issue I won't get into for the present) but to specifically target gay material and lesbian material, preventing or making difficult and expensive its entry (or event re-entry) into Canada.

As I recall, one of the items that had been seized by customs and which was influential in the lawsuit were copies of an issue of the US lesbian magazine GIRLFRIENDS that were going to Little Sister's. What was deemed obscene in the magazine--their justification for the seizure--was an excerpt from a book by Canadian author Persimmon Blackbridge which had been published by a Canadian publisher (Press Gang, as I recall) and which they were now banning from re-entering Canada.

Canada Customs were in fact found guilty of this homophobic targeting and discrimination {see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Sisters_Book_and_Art_Emporium_v._Canada_(Minister_of_Justice)} though they were exonerated under the Butler decision.

The problem with these situations is that the burden of proof falls on the victims, and even then the power imbalance is such that the system usually remains in place.

Little Sister's was the victim of systematic and targeted homophobia by Canada Customs, for which they had to pay the financial burden of hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours to fight and prove (time and money taken away from their primary pursuit, which is selling literature). And at the end of the day, after winning a highly-publicized case, nothing changed.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund exists to fight many analogous situations with regard to illustrated or sequential art works.

In the case of amazonfail, the burden once again has fallen on the victims, in this case writers of LGBT material, sex-positive erotica, etc. It's not like a notification was sent to them that their book was challenged or objected to, they find out--if they even do, I'm sure some have been celebrating the recent holidays and have not yet become aware of the situation--after the fact, and must now expend time and energy to undo a situation which should not have been allowed to happen in the first place (and this is where Amazon's culpability primarily lies).

Aside from the direct losses (books not able to be found and therefore bought because they've been deranked and no longer show up in searches) there are indirect losses: how many pages of LGBT material are not being written because their authors are checking to see if their books have been deranked, taking action to try and have them reranked, or are otherwise following the situation?

What is further underscored by all of this is just how dangerously out of balance the system is, and how Amazon.com in particular has far too much power within the system today. Too many publishers, especially publishers of books that speak to or about "minority" experiences, rely on Amazon for getting their titles into the hands of readers.

A few weeks ago Amazon.co.uk unashamedly threw its weight around (see http://www.thebookseller.com/news/81820-publishers-unsure-over-amazon-terms.html): "Last week, theBookseller.com revealed Amazon was changing its terms and scrapping the existing 30-day payment period. Instead, publishers can have a 15-day payment period but must offer Amazon a further 2% off—bringing the total discount to 62%. Those publishers who do not offer the extra discount will see their payments made on Amazon's "standard terms”--effectively 60 days. Amazon applies the payment period at the end of the month in which the transaction took place. This means that those publishers on the latter scheme could wait up to 90 days for payment.

Although the internet retailer first contacted publishers on 24th March, the deadline for a decision was 1st April."

Distribution is, today, the biggest problem in publishing, and publishing has been changing because of changes in the distribution channels and system.

On the one hand, With the consolidation of distributors, we've seen the disappearance of the midlist.

We've seen a loss of diversity of voices as distributors go under and many independent publishers can't survive the losses of the monies owed to them.

(Not to mention the consolidation on the publishing side of things, with imprints being combined or canceled, leading only to more homogenization instead of plurality.)

It's worth remembering how, a decade and a half ago, a number of independent publishers went under because of the aggressive expansion of Barnes & Noble; at first, everyone was euphoric, because all of a sudden the major chain store was ordering much larger quantities of books than before. But this was a false increase in demand; it was not that there were more buyers for these books, but rather that B&N needed to "wallpaper" all those new stores. And rather than get stuck paying for those books, they returned them, and instead of the expected money for all those higher print runs publishers got stuck with a higher print run and a boxes of unsold inventory, many of them hurts.

On the other hand, we've seen a rise in e-books and p.o.d. technology, which is changing who has access to books: both in terms of who writes them as well as who and where people can buy and even read them.

Where will things end up? I, for one, don't know. I do think that the system as it currently stands is broken (distribution, returns, centralized chain bookstore ordering, etc.). I've also learned, after years of publishing with both mainstream and independent publishers, that it's very difficult to change the system. Let's say you write a children's books about horses that would be perfect to sell at tack shops. If you sell this book to a corporate publisher like Scholastic or Simon Schuster, you're not going to be able to change the system to get them to invest the time and legwork to get their books into this alternative distribution network, even if it might sell many more copies than they would through traditional book channels. The system is inflexible. For an independent publisher, especially one which doesn't already exist entrenchedly in the traditional book channels, it may be worth their time to investigate such alternatives (although everything works on economies of scale).

Recognizing that the system exists and how it works is an important and I think essential step step.

Why we write is a personal decision we each need to answer for ourselves.

And why--or if--we publish is a separate question and decision.

How we publish is in flux, and affects all of us: writers and readers both. Some of it (technological advances, etc.) is beyond our control. Some of it (where we purchase, what we purchase, etc.) we can influence. I think it's important to know that our actions can and do have repercussions, and we should try and act consciously and responsibly whenever possible.

That's another way of fighting, especially when one belongs to one (or many) groups that do not have power.
desayunoencama: (Default)
This troll claims credit for Provoking Amazonfail: http://tinyurl.com/czgczp
desayunoencama: (Default)
THE GEORGIA REVIEW has a call for submissions for new entries a la Ambrose Bierce's classic DEVIL'S DICTIONARY. So sharpen your wit and send it in. Here are the details from their webpage:

http://www.uga.edu/garev/devil.html


A Devil's Dictionary for the Twenty-First Century

The Georgia Review is now taking submissions for a planned special feature, “A Devil’s Dictionary for the Twenty-First Century”—an update of sorts of Ambrose Bierce’s brilliant satirical work The Devil’s Dictionary, published just about one hundred years ago. Taking Bierce as a model, all writers are invited to send one or two original dictionary entries—maximum length, two hundred words each—for publication consideration; those writers who include with their submission a paid order for a new, renewed, or gift subscription to The Georgia Review ($30) may send up to six dictionary entries. All entries will be considered for publication in our pages and/or on our website. All accepted authors will receive an honorarium and also will be eligible to receive “The Devil’s Due” in the amount of $500 for first place, $150 for second, and $100 for third. Please write "Devil's Dictionary" on the submission envelope. The postmark deadline is 30 June 2009, with no electronic submissions accepted and no reply absent a stamped, self-addressed return envelope.

A few representative entries from Bierce's Devil's Dictionary:

Apologize, v. i. To lay the foundation for a future offence.

Bigot, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

Defame, v. t. To lie about another. To tell the truth about another.

Dictionary, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.

liberty, n. One of Imagination's most precious possessions.

Novel, n. A short story padded . . .

peace, n. In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

scribbler, n, A professional writer whose views are antagonistic to one's own.

and, of course,

Editor, n. . . . a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering its mind at the tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star . . .



All submissions and queries
should be sent to:

The Georgia Review
"Devil's Dictionary"
The University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-9009

1 (800) 542-3481
(706) 542-3481
garev@uga.edu
fax (706-542-0047)
desayunoencama: (Default)
IndieBound is a great resource of independent bookshops and other stores. They have an affiliate program, as well.

You can find me there at http://www.indiebound.org/users/lawrenceschimel
desayunoencama: (Default)
In a piece in PW last night, an Amazon spokesperson claims it was all a glitch.

Yet they've been deranking erotic titles and otherwise making moral judgments at least since August 08:
http://tinyurl.com/ca4hqx
desayunoencama: (Default)
I should note that the de-ranking was very targeted: only my gay or queer titles were de-ranked. My vampire titles like FIELDS OF BLOOD: VAMPIRE STORIES FROM THE MIDWEST (even though it's out of print) or my children's books like LITTLE PIRATE GOES TO BED all still have amazon sales ranks. (The non-English titles, whether for adults or kids, generally don't have rankings.)

And now, like Little Pirate, I should ignore all this for a while and go to bed.
desayunoencama: (Default)
Because all of my gay or queer titles have been de-ranked at Amazon, they no longer show up on a search of my name the way they used to. Now, mentions of me in other people's still-ranked books show up before my own de-ranked gay titles.

BEST GAY POETRY 2008 was de-ranked in print, but Amazon's own kindle edition is still ranked.

After finding 13 of my own titles have been stripped of Amazon rankings, I gave up checking (mostly because I had to filter through so much "noise" of any anthology I've ever appeared in--over 200--or anyone who's ever cited me in a book... even if I'm just mentioned in someone's bio note as co-editor.)

Amazonfail

Apr. 13th, 2009 12:42 am
desayunoencama: (Default)
I'm digusted with Amazon.

If you haven't been reading about what has been happening, check out this post:
http://markprobst.livejournal.com/15293.html

In an nutshell, most books with LGBT content have had their amazon sales rank numbers stripped and are not showing up in the search functions.

Type in "homosexuality" now and the first thing that comes up is A PARENT'S GUIDE TO PREVENTING HOMOSEXUALITY. Book 3 is YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE GAY. Book 5. is CAN HOMOSEXUALITY BE HEALED?

Please sign the petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/in-protest-at-amazons-new-adult-policy

And please consider buying your books someplace else.

http://Indiebound.org is a great resource/community, a list of independent bookstores and other independent and local shops.

Bookses!

Apr. 7th, 2009 05:51 pm
desayunoencama: (Default)
I got a care package from the US with a copy of LIVING WITNESS, the new Gregor Demarkian novel by Jane Haddam! I iz loved!

(I don't know if anyone but [livejournal.com profile] oursin will understand how wonderful this is. If you don't, what are you waiting for? Start reading her!)
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