Bywater BLUE
We love good books, just like you do
August 2011
Welcome to Bywater Books

Dear Readers,

As Bywater prints The Girls Club, Sally Bellerose is already thinking about her next novel — and she's looking forward to writing about sex. For more details, see An Author Talks Sex below. To see what reviews she's already picking up (it's published next Thursday), see Bywater News below.

Marianne K. Martin has been picking up great reviews for her latest novel, The Indelible Heart. To find out more, and for details of an interview with Kissed by Venus magazine, see Bywater News below.

This month, we're profiling People Called Women, now the only feminist bookstore in Ohio. See People Called Women below.

And do check out Bywater Events for details of radio interviews lined up with our authors throughout this summer and fall.

As always, we at Bywater strive to bring you the finest in lesbian romance, mystery, and literary fiction.

Till next time!

Kelly Smith
Marianne K. Martin
Val McDermid

An Author Talks Sex

Sally B
As her first novel The Girls Club is published (August 11), Sally Bellerose is already thinking about what comes next:

Let's talk about sex. Or, better yet, let's read and write about it. What I like about a good sex scene is the inherent drama in it: emotion or a lack of emotion; violence or tenderness; boring sex, humorous sex, shameful sex — a sex scene can have any possible focus.

But what I want to talk about now is sex and aging. I turned sixty last week. The subject of sex and aging is dear to my heart. Don't worry, I won't be describing old ladies or men in lust; there will be no sagging skin, no false teeth at the bedside. Not here, not now anyway. When it comes to writing sex, I know what's considered polite; I know better than to deviate by presenting characters who are not young, firm, within proscribed BMI parameters, or in possession of all their senses and fully functioning body parts. Not, at any rate, without presenting a full profile first — personality, setting, story arc. The whole shebang must be intact before introducing bodies that are not ready for prime time.

You may argue that a developed story is necessary for any good sex scene. Perhaps. But, even after a writer has established interest in the characters, a scene with bodies that are old or fat or differently abled must be handled with more delicacy than a scene in which the bodies are youthful and good-looking. If the scene is to be accepted at all, that is. The taboo against same-sex scenes in mainstream literature is beginning to lift — and a heartfelt Yeah for that. The taboos against aging bodies, the bodies I am most interested in discussing here, are not.

Still, I believe in readers and writers, especially you folks who are kind enough to be reading this piece. I believe in the power of the word. I believe that representing an inclusive world is worthwhile for the writer and the reader. And like all writers and readers, I am aging.

Because I write fiction, I can write what I know about aging and sex without apparent self-reference.

Or I can write non-fiction with barefaced self-reference.

I love the part of getting old where the memories of throwing blood on Hustler at the newsstand merge with a lover's little trailer and a book splayed open on a pull-out bed. And a few more books: The Color Purple next to a political white-girl manifesto whose title escapes me, and, because sex is complicated and contradictory, a girly magazine waiting on the floor. How I loved to tease that lover about her porn. How I loved to cuddle up in that narrow bed, on that thin mattress, with my head on her shoulder after sex. And oh, after our hearts began beating at a normal pace, how I loved her reading to me, anything but porn. Now that's a butch; does it like a pro, then reads to you.

I have written at length about young women in love and lust in my novel The Girls Club. Writing about the longings, confusion, and seductions of Cora Rose, the young protagonist, was a joy. I've also written a good many short stories and poetry featuring lusty women of all ages. Sex between young women, like sex between any two people at any stage of life, is layered and complicated, which is why it so interesting to read and write.

See, I told you I wasn't going to lead you to an old-bodies-in-lust scene. But aging bodies, sex and aging, are subjects too long taboo. There will be old ladies in love, bodies and all, in my next novel. If anyone has read good fiction with sex and aging bodies included, I'd be grateful for recommendations (e-mail me at or visit my blog).

Of course, there is always research.

Hot Off The Press
Girls Club
The Girls Club

by Sally Bellerose

Sisterhood. The buzzword of the seventies, the key to women's liberation. But for Catholic working class girls like Marie, Renee, and Cora Rose LaBarre, sisterhood is a word that covers a multitude of attitudes. They're best friends, worst enemies, greatest supporters, and biggest detractors.

Set in the decade of opening doors, The Girls Club follows the three sisters as they love, argue, and struggle their way through adolescence to womanhood, taking in religion, illness, parenting, sexuality, drugs, and rock 'n roll on the way.

Sally Bellerose was awarded a Fellowship in Literature from the National Endowment for the Arts based on an excerpt from this book. The manuscript won the Bywater Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the James Jones Fellowship, the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, and the Bellwether Endowment.

"The Girls Club is incredible — fierce, sexy and wise. Reading it will help you get through almost anything with more of your humanity intact. Plus, it's a blast."
— Susan Stinson, author of Venus of Chalk

"Riveting, gripping, unputdownable, The Girls Club grabbed me by the throat from the very first page . . . I'd follow this enormously talented writer to the ends of the earth."
— Lesléa Newman, author of The Reluctant Daughter and Heather Has Two Mommies

Lesbian Fiction 296 pages ISBN 978-1-932859-78-2

At fine stores everywhere
or order directly from Bywater Books.

Bywater Trivia

To win the Bywater title of your choice, simply answer this month's question:

What is the name of Poppy's best friend in Shaken and Stirred, the new novel by Joan Opyr?

E-mail us at or by post to the address in the column below — see To Order Books.

Congratulations to our most recent winners: Kathy from Ohio; and Kathy from Nebraska!

People Called Women
In Toledo, the bookstore People Called Women has been celebrating women's voices for eighteen years. During that time, owner Gina Mercurio has made it a place that serves women, offering a platform for them to speak out.

The last remaining feminist bookstore in Ohio, People Called Women has thousands of titles in stock, and Gina and her staff of volunteers reckon they can usually get hold of any book in print within three days. They also sell used books.

True to its mission, People Called Women plays host to the Feminist University — "a place for women to learn from each other" and "a learning center free of the patriarchal and bureaucratic trappings that so many women have come to associate with the traditional university."

Several women's groups also hold their meetings at the bookstore: Lavender Triangle Toledo; the local chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW); and Take Back the Night. And it was to the bookstore that people came to express their outrage when three women were killed over the course of just one weekend, all victims of domestic violence. That show of support helped ensure the success of a campaign for new legislation: Shyneera Grant was just 17 years old when she was murdered by a former boyfriend, and Shyneera's Law now enables juvenile courts to issue protection orders for minors.

The efforts of Gina and her staff of volunteers have made People Called Women an important part of the community. Sadly, Gina reports that today, like so many independent bookstores, she is struggling. And now asking people to remember the adage "If you want to know what you value, look at where you spend your money."

People Called Women is at 6060 Renaissance Place, Toledo, OH.

News from Bywater
Marianne K. Martin has been picking up great reviews for her lastest novel The Indelible Heart.

Amos Lassen describes the story as a testament to the "power of friendship" and says, "When a good story comes together with beautiful prose, we get a wonderful read . . . Martin has a knack for wit and writing about emotions that puts her in a special class of writers. Her character development is excellent and as we read, we begin to see the characters before our eyes." To read the whole review, click here.

Lynne Pierce reckons this is a romance by a writer who "has a habit though of going deeper with her characters and sometimes that can make the observant reader uncomfortable. Martin can cut pretty close to the bone . . . The Indelible Heart is not a dark book, but it is a thoughtful one. It will not take long to read it. Not nearly as long as it will cause the reader to think about what it says. For those who say they want to see more stories that deal with real issues in an entertaining way, this is the answer."

In Kissed by Venus magazine (Issue 3), Kate Genet says: "The story is powerfully written by someone who knows what she wants to say and how . . . It is a book that never stumbles . . . I feel like these characters are women I actually know and admire. It's a story well worth reading, because in a way, it's a story about all of us."

The magazine is available to read online: click here. The issue also includes Marguerite Quantaine's fascinating interview with Marianne, which ranges across twelve pages, so you're bound to find out something new about this best-selling author.

Sally Bellerose's first novel The Girls Club will be published next Thursday (August 11). Already it's picked up two reviews:

Publishers Weekly says that "Bellerose's sympathetic characters are all the more appealing and realistic for their lack of perfection . . . the portrayal of Cora Rose, a lesbian struggling to deny her realities to everyone including herself, is riveting and at times heartbreaking. A fast-paced, well-written tale with characters who will linger in the reader's memory long after the final page is turned."

And Richard La Bonte writes: "Bellerose's warm novel embraces the concept of sisterhood with propulsive gusto — mostly the real deal of sisters caring deeply for each other, even as they squabble, but with hints that the sisterhood of nascent feminism has reached the small town where the three are realizing their emotional and sexual selves." For the whole review, click here.

Get Booked!

Calling all Book Groups:

Ever wanted to know what an author thinks about her own book?

Choose a Bywater title to discuss at your Book Group, and we'll arrange for the author to join the conversation — in person, by webcam, or over the phone.

Book Group Leaders, feel free to write us for a complimentary copy of any Bywater book for your review.

E-mail our Publicity Dept at

Bywater Events
This summer and fall, our authors will be appearing on two radio shows:
All Things Gay
and Women Stirred Radio.
The details are as follows:

All Things Gay is the first gay radio show in New Hampshire, airing on Portsmouth Country radio,106.1 FM, on Mondays at 8 a.m.
The show can also be streamed at
Over the next few months, All Things Gay will be talking to Bywater authors. Interviews will be 45 minutes — long enough to get properly acquainted:
Joan Opyr
, August 15
Marianne K. Martin, August 29
Bett Norris
, September 26
Sally Bellerose
, October 10
Lisa Gitlin
, October 17

Woman Stirred Radio airs on WGDR, 91.1 FM, a community radio station serving the Central Vermont region. Woman Stirred Radio is hosted by Merry Gangemi on Thursdays at 4-6 p.m.
The show can also be live-streamed; click here.
Stella Duffy, August 4, 4:15 p.m.
Val McDermid, August 11, 4:15 p.m.
Marianne K. Martin, August 18, 5 p.m.
Bett Norris, September 1, 5 p.m.
Sally Bellerose, September 12, 4:15 p.m.

Stella Duffy
· will be appearing with the improv comedy troupe The Suggestibles at The Cumberland Arms on Friday, August 29, 8:30-10:45 p.m.
James Place Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne NE6 1LD
For more information:

· will be presenting her adaptation of Euripides' Medeaat the Assembly George Square, Edinburgh. Performances run from August 3 to August 29, each evening at 6:30 p.m.
Assembly George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LH
For more information: (44) 131 623 3030

Elana Dykewomon
will appear at the Butch Voices Conference, August 18-21. She will be part of the Sunday morning readings, August 21, 11:30 a.m.
Oakland Marriott City Center
1001 Broadway
Oakland 94607

Lisa Gitlin
will be reading from her award-winning book I Came Out For This? as part of the OutWrite LGBT Book Fair on Saturday, August 6, 12-1 p.m.
The DC Center for the LGBT Community
1318 U Street NW
Washington DC

Marianne K. Martin
will be signing books all day at Windover Women's Resort on Saturday, August 13.
Windover Women's Resort
3596 Blakely Road
Michigan 48754
For more information: (989) 375-2586

The Virtual World

Your favorite authors also write blogs, have their own websites, and can be found on social networking sites.

Sally Bellerose
Click for her blog. Find her on Facebook.

Georgia Beers
Click for her website. Click for her blog.
Find her on Facebook.

Lindy Cameron
Click for her website, and for news of her press.

Cynn Chadwick
Click for her website.

Stella Duffy
Click for her blog.
Find her on LibraryThing, MySpace, and Twitter @stellduffy.

Elana Dykewomon
Click for her website. Find her on Facebook and Red Room.

Z Egloff
Click for her website. Find her on Facebook and Red Room.

Marcia Finical
Find her on Facebook.

Katherine V. Forrest
Click for her website.

Lisa Gitlin
Find her on Facebook.

Jill Malone
Click for her website. Find her on Facebook and MySpace.

Marianne K. Martin
Find her on Facebook, MySpace, and Red Room.

Val McDermid
Click for her website. Find her on Facebook.

Bett Norris
Click for her blog. Find her on Facebook.

Joan Opyr
Click for her website.

Mari San Giovanni
Click for her website. Find her on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter @MariSanGiovanni.

You can also follow Bywater Books on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter @BywaterBooks. And tune in to our YouTube channel. Subscribe to it, and you'll be alerted each time a new video is posted.

Issue: 24
In This Issue
An Author Talks Sex
Hot Off The Press
Bywater Trivia
People Called Women
News from Bywater
Get Booked!
Bywater Events
The Virtual World
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