Bywater BLUE
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November/December 2011
Welcome to Bywater Books

Dear Readers,

Here come the holidays — just the right time for publishing the new novel by Mari SanGiovanni, Camptown Ladies. Already the reviewers are saying that this is a book that will have you laughing out loud. It is available now from our website, and will be shipping to stores from this Thursday, December 8.

We're excited to announce that we're teaming up with Kate Clinton next year. For more details, see News from Bywater below.

Now, a heads-up: This holidays, we reckon many of you will find yourself unwrapping an eReader. So we'll be having a two-day saleDecember 25 to 26. We'll send you more details nearer the time.

Check out P-town 2011 to find out what Georgia Beers, Sally Bellerose, and Marianne K. Martin got up to this year.

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

Author Profile
Mari SanG and Cindy

"When I watch a movie or read," says Mari SanGiovanni, "I want the experience of slowly falling in love, and I want to laugh a little all the way."

That seems to chime with her readers: Her first novel, Greetings from Jamaica, Wish You Were Queer, brought her plenty of fans. And she bore their comments in mind when she worked on its sequel, Camptown Ladies: "I tried to kick the comedy up a few notches, because I took what the readers said to me very seriously about what they liked about the first book. They liked that it was a bit outrageous with the comedy, and that I didn't shy away from sex."

Don't worry if you haven't read her first book. As Mari promises, "I made sure that if I was going to haul out that crazy cast of Italian relatives for another adventure, I wasn't going to serve Italian leftovers!" So whether you're meeting the cast for the first time or getting reacquainted, you're going to have fun. Not least because Mari's followed her own requirements for a story she enjoys: "I want the characters to be either relatable to my everyday life or at least so entertaining that I don't give a damn if they are relatable."

It's for that reason that Mari's also at work on a screenplay. "Lesbian films," she points out "are few and far between and often not very relatable . . . they have a storylines that don't pull me in — usually about having babies, something political or something terribly sad, or some type of indie/artsy film that is so weird or trying so hard to be tragic that I just shut down and can't care about what is going on."

Not, you understand, that Mari's down on lesbian movies or babies in particular. It's movies, period, that don't work anymore: "They just don't make them like they used to — films or actresses . . ." (She's so right about that.) "Today, the theater is mainly offering films featuring men in leotards bouncing around on buildings or blowing things up (a.k.a. superheroes) — and, sorry, but I can't relate to this, nor can I relate to many of the romantic comedies of today featuring the starving 22-year-old actress of the moment."

She adds wistfully, "I used to enjoy a good old-fashioned romantic comedy, but they are just so formula now. The romantic comedies are pretty shallow and (with the exception of the recent smash Bridesmaids, which I loved) the female characters in most movies are pretty lame, and don't talk like any of the women I know."

If you're nodding your head in agreement, you might like to know that Mari's new screenplay is "a love story that is not as simple as it seems" featuring two older women — Susan Sarandon and Annette Bening would be her dream cast.

Mari has another idea in mind. She's planning to set up on her website a list of all the projects she is working on, or considering working on next, so that her readers can have their say. "After all," she says, "the readers and movie goers are the ones that pay for our products, so wouldn't it be interesting if they had a say before we started on them? Might save me some time if enough people think I have a really bad idea!"

Mari lives in Rhode Island, and would like to thank all the people who have sent love and support through what has been a difficult year. Her partner Kim fought "to kick cancer's ass," but sadly, she passed away recently.

by Caroline Curtis

Hot Off The Press
Camptown Ladies

Camptown Ladies

by Mari SanGiovanni

Q: How do you take your mind off a broken heart?
A: You spend time with your crazy Italian family, of course.

And there's plenty to distract Marie Santora when she comes home to lick her wounds. Not least her sister Lisa's plan to transform a rundown campground into a gay and lesbian paradise — complete with a five-star Italian restaurant — with the help of a contractor who just happens to be the woman who broke their brother's heart.

But the Santoras are a family that could sink the Loveboat. Especially since they don't know the meaning of minding their own business. When the whole clan decides to fix things for their girls, they wreak havoc all the way from the backwoods of Rhode Island to the campy streets of Provincetown. And when the campfire heats up, it's a recipe for heartburn.

Sequel to Greetings From Jamaica, Wish You Were Queer.

"Damn if I didn't actually laugh out loud while reading it — several times, in fact." —

Lesbian Fiction 302 pages ISBN 978-1-932859-86-7

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:

Who is Marie Santora's love interest in Greetings from Jamaica, Wish You Were Queer?

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

News from Bywater
What the L?
Next year, Bywater Books will be publishing the eBook editions of What the L? and Don't Get Me Started by Kate Clinton. She calls herself a fumerist (feminist/humorist); Armistead Maupin calls her the Founding Mother of Queer Comedy. You'll be able to download the titles and enjoy her writing from February 1 — just in time for Valentine's Day.

The Wisconsin Gazette reviewed Indelible Heart, the new novel from Marianne K. Martin, and said that "Readers will be reintroduced to beloved characters and welcome new ones." And the Windy City Times asked, "Do you like the old quick-read Naiad Press books featuring women seeking justice through whatever means necessary? Here's a book for you."

The same paper also reviewed The Girls Club by Sally Bellerose, urging readers to get "to a bookstore (or computer) to purchase this book." Click here.

I Love a Mystery magazine reviews Val McDermid's Trick of the Dark: "As the solution drew near, the feeling that I knew what lay ahead didn't diminish the suspense or the intricacy of the plot. And, of course, I was completely wrong in my expectations . . . The novel, though somewhat lengthy, is an absorbing and worthy addition to Ms. McDermid's past novels."
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

P-town 2011
Once again, Bywater was part of Women's Week. It was great to see so many women turn up for our events and meet our authors:

We celebrated the launch of 96 Hours, the new book by Georgia Beers. She also appeared with Sally Bellerose and Marianne K. Martin, who read from their books The Girls Club and the The Indelible Heart, appearing alongside Kate Clinton.


Sally, Georgia, and Marianne also signed books for their fans. Here they are, pens at the ready, their books piled in front of them.

And we were delighted to help Womencrafts celebrate its 30th Birthday.

Here's to next year — and we've already got plans.

Bywater Events
Val McDermid
will be making appearances across America between January 19 and January 26. She will launching The Retribution, the latest story featuring Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, which will be published by Atlantic Monthly Press.
Check out our website, where we'll post further details as soon as we have them.
Left Bank Books

In 1969, a group of graduate students decided to open a bookstore "to offer literature that wasn't to be found elsewhere."

And so Left Bank Books was born. It was "the first place in St. Louis you could buy a book by a lesbian. Thanks to me," says the current owner Kris Kleindienst. ("Sorry," she adds, "that came off egotistical.")

But few of her customers would even want her apology: "For many years prior to the internet, we were a destination for so many young and not so young gay people looking for some kind of support. I've had many testimonial notes from folks who told me they mustered up the courage to come in and check out our gay section. Even to be near the books was scary. But we were a lifeline for them. We fielded countless calls, directed people to the gay bars, the hotline, the support groups in the area, the legal services. We were the place people came to when they needed GLBT information."

As a result, Left Bank Books amassed a core of loyal customers. And in 1977, when the store badly needed money in order to survive, it was a customer who said "Why don't you ask people for money? I'll give you $100." In total, says, Kris, "We raised $5,000 and the vote of confidence we needed to go forward with . . . the store."

Since then, Left Bank Books has continued to serve its community. "In St. Louis," Kris explains "many kids not only can't afford books, they have no experience of books in their homes." What's more, the city schools are "severely under-resourced, . . . serving largely African American and immigrant/refugee populations." In response, the store has set up the River City Readers program, which gives students books to keep and sets up events with authors. "Parents report that we are making readers out of their children." And one 2nd Grade Teacher, Ms. Jason, wrote to say, "I literally had a student cry last year because she was so happy to receive such a nice book with her name on it, that she could only read because she worked so hard to improve her reading during the school year."

To fund the program, the store raised almost $30,000 this summer alone — it's telling that this came mostly from small donations. The Left Bank Books Foundation was established earlier this year in the hope of attracting larger contributions "and that has gone well in spite of the fact we have no Foundation staff. We just sort of do everything ourselves."

And clearly the community values the effort. In the mid-1990s, when "the chains were opening at a rapid pace all around us and they were getting the whole pie", it was again a customer who came up with an idea that made a difference. "I love our customers," says Kris. "They try to take care of us." And they can now join The Friends of Left Bank Books Literary Society, paying an annual membership that gives them discounts, as well as access to private sales and receptions with authors. Back then "The Friends was unique — no other store had done something quite like this at this point. Amazingly, year after year, people continue to renew and join, giving money to a for-profit store because they believe in what we do."

"This has been consistently a source of great motivation for us. If our customers care so much that they will simply give us money just to keep us here, well then we are charged with a pretty important mission. It's an honor, really, to be the caretaker of something so important in a community."

That Left Bank Books has become so important must surely be down to its independence. "We aren't just corporate money-making machines. What we carry and how we do business means something to us." She gives an obvious example: "Lesbian Reading Groups are set up by indie bookstores because we are run by lesbians! The chainstores have perceived no monetary reason to use the "L" word in their stores." (Unless the "L" is a celebrity . . .)

Today, of course, both chainstores and independents must take account of the rise in e-Books and the explosion of self-publishing. To understand their impact, check out the blogs on the store's website (click here). They are written by Jarek Steele, who manages the store's website and is President of the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance. (If you are thinking of self-publishing, do read "Indie Publishing" — A Meditation on Words and Their Meanings, posted on July 3 this year. It'll open your eyes.)

It is impossible to talk about Left Bank Books, though, without talking about the cats. Kris explains that the store has had a cat ever since "I heard Captain Nemo yelling from the shallows of a pond someone had tossed him in, while I sat there talking with my then business partner. It was the evening of our tenth anniversary, so it was 22 years ago! When Nemo passed away . . . our next door neighbor the hair stylist scooped Jamaica off the sidewalk and she graced our presence for another 12 or so years. Spike came along next, fished out of a dumpster near our store. They have all been coal black and long-haired, but that is where the resemblance ends. And they have all had their own fans, people who come in specifically to see them."

So, next time you're in St. Louis, visit the flagship store at 399 N. Euclid Avenue. Or go to 321 North 10th Street, where a second store opened in 2008.

The Virtual World

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

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.

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

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

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

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: 27
In This Issue
Author Profile
Hot Off The Press
Bywater Trivia
News from Bywater
Get Booked!
P-town 2011
Bywater Events
Left Bank Books
The Virtual World
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