Today I got some very good news I wanted to share with all the SMITTEN crew who made the anthology of women who love women poetry – – SMITTEN so incredible. SMITTEN was a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards! For an LGBTQ anthology of poetry this is a huge achievement and I wanted to thank everyone who was involved in SMITTEN for their incredible work! Indie Blue & Christabelle Ray & Kindra Austin for publishing SMITTEN & featuring their work in it &Mitch Green for its amazing cover. Well done everyone! BE PROUD! SMITTEN AUTHORS GROUP CONGRATULATIONS!
It is our great pleasure to inform you that you are a Finalist in the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence® Awards. Your book embodies the standards of excellence that this award was created to celebrate. We salute your talents and our jurors truly respect each of the final works that are honored this year.
The lists of Winners and Finalists are proudly showcased on our website, please visit www.indieexcellence.com and click on the 14th Annual Finalists tab to see your book cover, name, and info highlighted for the world to see (click through to your website if provided). Awards are available for both download and purchase on our website including cover stickers, certificates, and medals. The 14th Annual National Indie Excellence® Awards Press Release is distributed to an array of news and media outlets and it is also on our website as a download for your use. Please share it widely–this honor should be used to promote and garner attention for your amazing product!
The entire team at the National Indie Excellence® Awards sincerely hope your participation in our contest will serve you well in your ongoing success. We thank you for your patience during this challenging year as we all deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Sending you and yours our deepest congratulations.
Everyone at the National Indie Excellence Awards
WELL DONE to everyone involved in this project! I am ordering stickers of our achievement, if you want one, let me know and you can put it on your copy of SMITTEN and be proud of how well SMITTEN has done. Typically LGBTQ books do not succeed like this and I always knew, with the incredible writers we had in SMITTEN we’d break that glass ceiling.
Thank you to everyone involved in SMITTEN: Christine Ray. (Indie Blu(e)) Kindra Austin. (Indie Blu(e)) Mitch Green. (Designer) Avital Abraham. Didi Artier. Kim D. Bailey. Sonia Beauchamp. Henri Bensussen. Sarah Bigham. Susi Bocks. Elmear Catherine Bourke. Dani Bowes. Ruth Bowley. Cassandra Bumford. Lynne Burnett. Amie Campbell. Tara Caribou. Jennifer Carr. Laura Elizabeth Casey. Olivia Chachinsky. Teresa Chappell. Clementine. Kai Coggin. Carrie Lee Connel. Susan Conway. Selene Crosier. Emily Alica DeCicco. Katherine DeGillo. Liz DeGregorio. Grace Desmarais. Rachel M. McCayhey. Sean Heather K. McGraw. Lindz McLeod. Cristina DeSouza. Hoda Abdulqadir Essa. Melissa Fadul. Kirsten Fedorowicz. Rachel Finch. Susie Fought. Renee Furlow. Nadia G. Wandeka Gayle. Milena M. Gil. Rebecca Ruth Gould. Manda Grathwohl. Maria Gray. Maranda Greenwood. Carrie Groebner. V. Hamilton. Kim Harvey. Sophia Healy. HOKIS. Kelsey Hontz. P. M. Houghton Harjo. Tia M. Hudson. Hallelujuah R. Huston. Rachael Iikins. M. Duckett Ireland. Sarah Ito. Jessica Jacobs. Paula Jellis. Carol Jewel. Kelly Girl Johnson. Emily R. Jones. Sarah Kacala. Sarah Karowski. Nick Kay. Destiny Killan. Erin King. Crystal Kinistino. A. Lawler. Jill Lee. Aviva Lilith. Tre. L. Loadholt. Katherine Love. Carolyn Martin. Jennifer Mathews. Alexandria Moore. Charity M. Muse. Skye Myers. Nayana Nair. Jack Neece. Jesica Nordarse. Michelle Paige. Alison Palmer. Marie Prichard. Georgia Park. S. A. Quinox. Talia Rizzo. Samantha Renee. Dr. Sneha Rooh. Rachel Roth. Maranda Russell. Millie Saint James. Rebecca Sanchez. SATU. T. M. Servin. Kay Shamblin. Tan Shivers. Alexandra Short. Izabell Joraas Skoogh. Jamie L. Smith. Janis Sommers. Megha Sood. Alicia Sophia. A. Staley. Wil Staley. Alison Stone. Tekla Taylor. Shraddhanvita Tiwari. Carla Toney. Piper Michelle Townsend. Charlene Trolinder. Erin Van Vuren. Sarah Vermillion. Marvlyn Vincent. Isabel J. Wallace. Angie Waters. Milly Webster. Vanessa Rowan Whitfield. Karissa R. Whitson. C. E. Wing.
Dear WordPressers. Please take note of a worthy and beautiful collection Edited and Created by the very talented Tara Caribou who is an excellent WordPress author and poetess. https://taracaribou.com/
I have known Tara here on WP land for some time and always admired the depth of her thoughts and talent as well as how fiercely hard she works. She produced this without any assistance and it’s a wonderful idea to put poetry to music and vice versa and the people therein are mostly WordPress authors themselves (I am lucky to be included) so if you like the idea of supporting WordPress authors this is the book for you.
If you have not yet heard, the immensely talented Tremaine Loadholt of much beloved WordPress a Cornered Gurl https://acorneredgurl.com/ and extremely successful Medium site https://medium.com/@trEisthename has Edited and Created an incredible collection of works by up-and-coming authors and poets called Quintessence: A Literary Magazine.
This beautiful collection is based upon the work Tre has tirelessly done i recent months through her championing and encouraging of younger authors. This success has garnered her much praise and appreciation in the writing world and she is truly making strides with her selfless support of new authors.
Quintessence is a literary magazine to be published yearly in the Spring. The writers you see featured in this literary magazine are contributors to A Cornered Gurl and have been faithful in their support, encouragement of others, and submitting strong and poignant work to be read freely on the platform. This is the first issue.
you’d get the email about your son, either dead, or gone, or famous
extremes of an only child, spoiled by two successful parents
likely famous, as he was in childhood, yeah … fat and famous
so now, he’s still not tall and he’s still not thin but he might be
unwrinkled and have lots of kids or … Venereal Disease
he might hate me, i suspect he would
why? Why do i think he’d hate me?
When he was the one who threatened me with a sword
when he was the one who broke the Lalique vase
i suppose because breaking hearts is worse than betrothed glass
though someone, with his desire for the world
i doubt anyone had the power to break his, because words
written by 18-year-old boys on the inside of cassettes of
music for my girl, rarely mean what they say and speak
with their hermaphroditic pricks.
i was older than him in lots of ways
i would have told you Elaine, it wasn’t my intention and yes
you remember us arguing but it wasn’t all me
when he was high, he was really high and
when he was low, he was really low
a sundial beneath the earth
i stayed witnessing, smoking chain after chain
his taking of porn, watching nude and slobbering
as i clamored in my shared insanity, letting him
have his hunger sated in my emptiness.
Well … depravity is depravity and girls who hate themselves
they’re really good at running with that and boys who
like to torture cats
did you know what he did behind that red door Elaine?
did you know what he was really like or just your little boy?
i remember his father once visiting and how
estranged they seemed and he hollered at you like he’d
never stopped not for one minute
and you screamed and screamed and screamed
i remember it because i witnessed it, see i’m not the bad penny
you assumed, but he might think i am, that’s how our memory works
put her in this box, label it wrong; She’s the reason i got a Second at University
she’s why i didn’t fuck enough, she’s why i fell out with my really good friends
(who weren’t so really good, if they had those seducing intentions)
and she? Sure, she let his friends do her, like she sold her soul for lasagna
or a slice of wholesome bread with Ganja
God she was always hungry, or purging
and the drugs he gave her, sometimes with prescriptions, sometimes with sweaty palms
sometimes naked on his stomach where his scar, shone like a dalmatian on a fire truck
she half-liked his brown skin and his imperfections, the matted hair, green eyes, short squat pudgy thighs and tiny cock
they didn’t threaten her, they reminded her of a girl
she felt safe even when she felt scared, his hormone injections, wild untamed stare
he said she made him calm, especially when sucking him off to a good record
yeah I bet. Swallowing is harder for those who give head, to narcissistic boys with pretty
Though it’s been so long, she can’t be sure, of what cut what and who bled and who left the door, slightly ajar,
because that was the year she found out she was mad
and he was too, so they sort of worked
though he wasn’t her boyfriend, though he wasn’t her brother, he was a lot of things under the covers
places where they could escape themselves and that eventual horror of knowing
you haven’t got any hinges and the world’s gonna spit you out into the gutter.
Elaine, she could tell you that your son, was actually a surprisingly good lover after she got through showing him how
or she could lie and say; We just watched horror movies, sometimes he posed me
and pricked me, and played, games, with paint and swords
which was also true, because it was all true.
We gorged ourselves, only children without parents who were home
and when you were, you chain smoked too, behind your dust and your exhausted slump
we all did, drinking your wine, eating delivered organic food, such irony Elaine
you think i was just some dumb girl with thin hips and a small brain?
You used to look at me like; Who the fuck do you think you are? And I’d look right back because I wasn’t wearing my glasses and I was fucking the world with my sadness and it really didn’t matter what you thought or what anyone thought, because i’d already decided to jump
and i was watching all the time i was standing there, in my short skirt and my bare legs and my impossible tight breasts and my impossible tight cunt, all of which you hated, because your husband had left you for one
but one isn’t me, and i wasn’t her and she wasn’t it, and you weren’t alone, you were free of him, and he was the reason your son hated you, not me.
I watched through the floor boards, through holes in the ceiling, to your life unpeeling
for your short stubby hands revealing, to the kisses you gave the picture by your reading glasses, to the wine you drank and stained your hands with, before you passed them over yourself in genuflection like a good Catholic and reached for the vibrator
to your son hating you, as he may have loved you also, why we never quite knew, does anyone? Hate being so close to love, as sex is to horror and horror is to desire.
Elaine, you summoned like a Magi, some kind of anger in him, at a strong mother or women in general, he was a sexist asshole, who liked men who hated women and women who let men hate them and I was a great substitute for Robert Crumbs little busty girls who bent over and let anger take them right up the ass
but he thought anorexic actresses with dark nipples were beautiful and one time i visited his office in Greek Street Soho WI and he was talking to a Jewish actress who i also thought was hot
Rachel Weisz you still are …
and she walked away with her five-inch heels and his eyes up her skirt
i wanted to say what about me? But i was just ordinary despite being an eight to his one, and she was a handsome, famous, adored shiny girl with a full rolodex and you were a tit man
who because you were a man, (though you’d never be a real man and that made you crazy) thought you could, (fuck Rachel Weisz? Seriously?) and you never would, but it was funny imagining, especially when you already had more than you ever would
(with me, the girl of cinders and soot)
so i watched you watching her and later on when you pretended it was her you took
i pretended right back because i wouldn’t mind being her or being you
and if i were her I’d let you split me open four ways like star of anise and divide me back because it’s a soulless game and I’m your whore and i’m your mother and i’m your bloody crack.
I’m sure now you have a young wife and four chubby kids with green eyes
or you might have died, by plunging into a canal, or cutting your throat with a blunt razor
if you’d started to shave after you starred aged ten in Ms Marple as the fat cheeked boy with shorts on and a smart mouth (yeah that was about right)
but either way, i hope you will let me know Elaine, what happened to your son
because i didn’t burn his house down, he did, he struck a match and he lit us both
on fire, until we stopped being repulsive and we stood charred and broken
in Camden Town, not being able to afford to drink, at The Elephant
or fuck each other in your bed, or die standing up right then and there
because burned people are shadows, they persist
I think of him regularly, whilst I’m sure, he has long forgotten me, which isn’t fair and is ironic and really typical, because men operate on a different time and hour. They think of the girl who is bending over now and not the one who did when they first learned to use their magic wand
unless she was obedient at all times and acted the part, in which case they will brag at 45 of the one they did in St. James’s park, who hitched up her skirt and got on all fours, and she was a “right go-er that one,”
Yeah I gave it to her so many times, she couldn’t walk and yeah, yeah, yeah, builders salivating in a pub talk, I guess you had me enough you could, but you’re probably an attorney and that means you like being tied up and debased, and it’s bad taste to talk about women who left you
because you’re in control, you’re the passive one with the fat wallet and the penchant for sex in the afternoon in a diaper, or with a plastic mask over your hair, that you cut when you became serious, so you could hide the scream and the mess of your desperation.
Sometimes I check online to see, if you posted the naked pictures you took when I wasn’t even legal, in your bathroom, where your mom had lots of soap in fancy bottles
because we both have ruin in our DNA, and Elaine, if you’d asked, I might have slept with you both, your eyes were so lonely and I liked how ruined they were
the extending, unending madness of your family of animals
it comforted me, slowly dawning, I was mad also, I really didn’t know it, until
A few people said / write something succinct / shorter than your usual / elaborated rhetoric / don’t you know how to / edit and be precise in your / measurement of words / good writers don’t need / verbal diarrhea / they can mold meaning / certain as bending copper / to light.
She thought it over
Knowing it was possible
After all she’d written some very
Shaved and glutted poems
(It wasn’t her way and if you are not true to your way
then you may as well be another lemming / willing to leap / from cliffs edge
of course this precludes learning which is / a value immeasurable
sometimes you can learn everything and still / go back to drawing unrealistically).
Finding something – – – perhaps it’s not a poem or a form but a short story
In the elongation and manipulation of reality and precision. Imprecise then. Deliberately.
Long ago she had no words because she couldn’t spell well enough to write. So she drew. For hours. Reels of paper. Stories by picture. Things she needed to say. To no one listening.
When she saw Woman In A Red Armchair hanging in a burgundy room / the silence palpable aside / rain hammering outside / mercilessly / like a hundred mouths clamoring
she tried not to stare at the line that made the woman / female
but was drawn to it as she might have been / a real breathing woman
something exquisite and desirable / she longed to see a live flesh and blood girl
to touch her with her empty hands and run them over her / quivering flesh
until those colors swelled up / and she cried out / for the sheer torment and beauty
no girls existed / save those who / liked boys / there were plenty of them
why were they all heterosexual?
why wasn’t she?
In America she heard / there are entire schools / devoted or a byproduct perhaps / lesbians / and only-girls-schools / well don’t start on them …
living in the city / you’d think but you’d be wrong / a few pinches / mostly shorn / forlorn
empty eyed / emulating men / less female than / those who wanted to lie beneath them.
Where existed that / judge not / beauty / with /dark eyes
the missing / beat / savor / prosper / sail
to her / soul.
If she could have / found her all along / not searching years but moments / glimpsed
sight and immediately / both knew / this bond before / words spoken
even at 13
even before she were born
perhaps you dreamed of me
created in the stillness of your loneliness / that which you did not have / filling emptiness with yearning / I am born to be / the wet ink on your skin / a permanence / no longer waiting / arms outstretched / for dreams unnecessary / now we / are.
Never quite together / torn asunder / this year the blackcurrents come later / as if they knew / what wonders and nightmares / store / waiting behind the pitch / to come rushing / we tried / we failed / the frailty of emotion / it bleeds easily / like thin skin / gone a-blackberrying / on a listless day / no clouds nor movement / sky dim / with unspent rain / the longing stored up / causing pain.
Perhaps you dreamed of me.
I stood — uncertain — proud backed —
against the light
where shape can be outlined
if then you’d looked — ephemeral — something unstated
in muted expression
what we do not say — what we hold inside — contains the greatest
Return to me. Though you are gone. Through the shroud. Time be gentle. Time be cruel.
Different and the same. Recollecting nothing. There is the proof. Stained on our table. Where you cut yourself. On a sharp knife of desire. And I opened to you. Ballet within music. Rapture closed us together. Forgotten. How do you not remember.
That long night we ran barefoot?
Flowers close their drowsy heads. Against night. Sleep. An eternity. Wakening. We are
Loss. A pressed red petal against Italian paper. Seeking its watering. I am so thirsty for your return. My love.
Hoda Abdulqadir Essa is a New Orleans native with roots hailing from East Africa. Hoda is a maker, writer, lover, shapeshifter and soul traveler, searching for heaven or hoping to construct it with her own bare hands.
How does being a poet inform your views on expressing emotions through writing?
As a poet, I’m consistently working from a place that many people call “emotional intelligence” – in other words, I am dreaming out loud when I open my mouth or put pen to paper. So, for me, being a poet comes with a subtle responsibility to always tell the truth. Poetry is not a soundbite nor is it a news-clip. To me, poetry is the rhythm that lives in each person individually. It’s important to express that and writing is a powerful medium to do so.
When you found out SMITTEN was about women who loved women, without the emphasis on erotica that is usually the case – could you immediately think of ways to express that love through writing?
Absolutely! My friend and I talk about bringing intimacy to life and to me that is what art is. No one has ever written ballads about an intellectual conversation they’ve had but we pause to capture the gentleness of a lover’s brush against your own skin – to me writing is a way at grasping moments that we ultimately have no language for. The erotic, especially, can be more greatly understood as we wrestle with it on the page.
What does it mean to you to be part of something like SMITTEN and have your work alongside other women who love women?
To me, this is a declaration of the time’s we are in. Standing together in creativity unity is the most empowered place for many women, myself included. It means to me that I have graduated into a time space reality that is being carved out by the very people writing and experiencing love for and from a woman.
Why is love a worthier subject than erotica to write on?
To me they’re intermingled. You have to love a moment to be inspired enough to write about it. Erotic writing is being so in love with an intimate moment that you want to recreate it for others. The two are closely related as far as I am concerned.
Have you ever been SMITTEN and if so, do you feel it’s possible to summarize those feelings in poetry?
I am smitten and often. As often as possible. And I love this word as the title for the anthology (kudos to you all) because that word encompasses how wistful it is allowing oneself to be overtaken by simply being fond of another. I’ve tried my entire life to bottle this feeling and give it to the world so yes! It is absolutely possible to summarize these feels in poetry, until we can market the sensation of course!
Your poem in SMITTEN was excellent, why did you choose this particular poem and what did you hope it would convey to readers?
I chose this poem because I was inspired by a woman who took my breath away. She was beautiful, inspiring, deliciously sad in all the right places and talking to her moved me. We never formally met but my hope in writing “WOMAN” was to zoom in on how explosive this connection was without any physical intimacy. I am not even sure if I felt romantic ideations towards this person up until this day – I just knew that I wanted her inner-flame to be safe. I wrote this poem to honor her fire; to protect it.
SMITTEN is available by ordering it in your Barnes & Noble, purchasing it online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon or asking your independent bookstore to order it via Ingram. SMITTEN is available on Kindle and in print form.
This is a huge project of 120 female authors – an anthology that is testimony to the power of love and connection between women. Support SMITTEN by purchasing a copy for someone who supports LGBTQ equality, women or poetry.
For the sake of SMITTEN, a project I believe in more than anything I have ever done before, I have asked close friends to take over my social media rather than close it down, so that SMITTEN can continue to flourish and succeed.
In my absence, due to my severe eye-sight-issues, my friends will be running the SMITTEN Facebook page and all SMITTEN related materials. Our goal is to ensure SMITTEN is successful in all ways. Sales are one way of legitimizing a project and ensuring its authors are HEARD.
Obviously LGBTQ projects are harder to sell than others, but it is my hope SMITTEN can continue its success through the rousing support of all those who believe in LGBTQ equality and the rights a woman has to love another woman. Please consider supporting SMITTEN – each sale helps raise visibility and gives SMITTEN authors another opportunity to share their unique and beautiful voices.
SMITTEN is for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you support local bookstores please ask them to stock SMITTEN using Ingram. If you cannot afford a Kindle copy or hard copy please ask your local library to get a copy of SMITTEN via Ingram. It doesn’t take much and it means everything to the 120 authors and poets of SMITTEN. Indie publishing doesn’t flourish without our support as a community!
Growing up in Europe I didn’t have anything like SMITTEN. My ‘sources’ were hard to find and often took me to oblique and obscure bookstores that had tiny ‘feminism/Lesbian’ (as they were once twinned) sections. Within those sections I found little I could personally relate to. I read Radcliffe Hall’s The Well Of Loneliness, now considered the ‘Bible’ of lesbianism and whether right or wrong, it did set a stage for me, and I loved the style and emotions therein, but over all her book is also very sad, it talks of lesbians as ‘inverts’ who are women trapped inside men’s bodies wishing to live the life men live and love women like men do. That was not my feeling. I was a woman happy to be a woman who wanted to love another woman who was most definitely a woman. (It should be noted many lesbians prefer to identify on the masculine end of the scale and yet identify as masculine women and this is a legit form of love too).
Even now, many years hence, there are divides within the LGBTQ and even lesbian/bi worlds. For some, you are just not considered a lesbian unless you subscribe to some of the dress-code/tough-act code and you are objectified for wanting to take on some of the accoutrement considered ‘heterosexual’ by queers. Likewise, you may be typecast as ‘femme’ (or butch) even in today’s society, as much as anything because since legislation has legalized gay marriage and made it easier in some countries for LGBTQ it has been assumed LGBTQ doesn’t need the same resources and so, there are less lesbian clubs/places to meet than ever before, and more is conducted online which as we all know, can be very hit and miss.
I personally knew of four lesbians who were date-raped when they met their ‘lesbian’ date in real life, after meeting online. In all cases, it was a set-up and there were men involved who took advantage of those women and punished them for being lesbians and not attracted to men. You may think that sounds extreme but having worked at two rape crisis centers I can assure you, it’s as common place now as it was in the seventies. The idea that LGBTQ and lesbians don’t need a ‘safe place’ to meet other like minded people, is too optimistic, it assumes it is now ‘safe’ to be a lesbian, but as any lesbian will tell you, we still fear holding a woman’s hand walking down certain streets. That hasn’t and won’t go away.
Let us not forget, in the vast majority of the world it is still illegal, frowned upon, punished or made impossible to be a lesbian and LGBTQ only pertains to a small percentage of this world in terms of population. If you are an African lesbian, good luck, you risk your life admitting that. So our Western ideas do not apply to the majority of lesbians out there.
Little really good literature is lesbian or LGBTQ, indicative of the stereotyping of LGBTQ literature when it is published and the small minority size of each group. You really have to hunt to find excellent, really well written lesbian literature or poetry. It was my dream to put together a group of authors who embodied love between women and showed the variety and depth of that love. SMITTEN accomplished this with over 120 poets and artists contributing some striking, stirring poems, drawings and thoughts of love and attachment.
SMITTEN was created for those people though I am certain we do not reach nearly enough. But it was my dream that even if we reached a few, even if we reached a girl like myself who went in search of ‘real’ lesbian love in a book store, they could find it. Maybe we haven’t done enough but with every act we hope to raise the consciousness of all people not just LGBTQ. People who may assume because gays have the right to vote and marry and are represented on TV in some countries that they are absolutely free of persecution. This is not the case and while there are many other such minorities who are objectified, ridiculed, stereotyped and minimized, it was my mission to highlight lesbians and women who love women because I am one.
SMITTEN may not have existed when I was really young and had no gay friends, no cohorts who were LGBTQ and no school friends who were even sympathetic or understanding of LGBTQ. I myself didn’t really know enough. I sought refuge in gay bars when old enough but often times found those as judging and uncomfortable as being the only straight. The stereotypes, expectations, reductions and cliches of being a lesbian were as backward among lesbians as among heterosexuals! We had no role-models, nobody to refer to and only a palpable sense of shame emanating from society en mass. Nobody in their right mind wanted their daughter to grow up to be a lesbian, wasn’t that just something that happened like a birth defect or because a mother didn’t do her job right? That was the thinking back then and back then wasn’t ‘that’ long ago!
Consequently I spent more of my youth trying to get by without examining my lesbian identity and enjoying what it could be like to love another woman. I look at photos of very young lesbians now and I envy them their freedom but I am not so naive to assume they are entirely free, as a minute after the photo is taken, they could be beaten up by a mob who didn’t like what they saw. It still happens.
SMITTEN defies the hate, bigotry and misunderstanding of lesbianism. SMITTEN isn’t about women fucking other women for porn. SMITTEN isn’t about stereotypical lesbians created by heterosexual men. SMITTEN isn’t angry and hateful as some feminist backlash can be. SMITTEN is about this: Love IS LOVE.
Please support SMITTEN by gifting it to an LGBTQ person you care about, or buying it for yourself irrespective of your gender and sexual orientation, because love IS love and it transcends everything. If you like poetry, or you support LGBTQ inclusion and visibility then your support of SMITTEN can person by person, change everything. And if you cannot do that, perhaps think of requesting SMITTEN from your local library or purchasing the less expensive Kindle version (although it should be said the print version of SMITTEN is sumptuous!). YOUR support helps little girls growing up today, grow up to have a VERY different outlook in life, one without as much fear and isolation.
I am a writer, painter, and more. I received my BA in Psychology, MA in Education, and 50 graduate credits in Counseling before coming out; as being queer was grounds for dismissal. I am now seeking my MSW, so I can help those marginalized by society and be a voice for the LGBTQ community. When I met my wife, I knew I had found myself and I’m learning to love the human I have become. Wil Staley
Do you find any stereotypes in lesbian/bi work that you would personally remove?
–Absolutely! Most books for same-sex attraction focus on sex and erotica. Very little exists for same-sex love and companionship. Not only that, but I haven’t seen many books that have lesbian or bi characters who are just people; it almost always focuses on their sexuality. I think it’s important to remember we’re all just human and we are not our sexuality though that is an amazing part of us. Being a lesbian or bi is a normal part of life and I hope this anthology is able to portray that truth.
What does it mean to you to be part of something like SMITTEN and have your work alongside other women who love women?
–This is such an honor to me. I’m being published alongside those like me who want to speak their truth for others. Not only that, but I can’t believe I’m in a book with so many amazing artists! I appreciate knowing so many other writers hope to make a change in the way our community is viewed.
Did you ever want to be a voice for the lesbian/bi community? If so, why?
-Being a voice for anyone is incredibly important to me but being a voice for the lesbian/bi community is even more precious to me. I know what it’s like to be hated for something you can’t control and to lose many people close to you because you want to love another human who happens to be the same sex. I come from a religious community who turned their backs on me when I came out. I still had a few people who stuck around and taught me what unconditional love was really like and I am so thankful for them. I hope I can help give others a voice and let them know they’re not alone.
Do you feel your voice is heard? Do you believe anthologies like this can help you be heard?
-Writing is really the only thing that has ever helped me feel my voice is heard and has made a difference. Being in this anthology will help my voice expand. I think anthologies like these are amazing because it caters to all types of people and offers many different styles of writing for our readers so they undoubtedly will find something that speaks to them and helps them feel heard.
Your poem in SMITTEN was excellent, why did you choose this particular poem and what did you hope it would convey to readers?
-I had three accepted pieces and the poem “Nakedness” really speaks volumes. I wrote this to show others how beautiful love can be; how healing it is to be able to give your all to someone leaving nothing uncovered; even the painful or ugly pieces of life. My wife and her love took away the shame I felt in being out and open and the pain I felt growing up in trauma. I am forever grateful for her gentleness.
SMITTEN is now LIVE and can be purchased in Kindle and Print format!
Please support this worthy and important project by purchasing a copy or more. Your support goes a long way to helping the visibility of LGBTQ authors, poets and artists. For up to date information please go to www.indieblu.net
Interview with Kindra M. Austin one of the two co-founders of Indie Blu(e) publishing by SMITTEN editor, Candice Daquin.
Candice: Indie Blu(e) is a young, edgy and finger to the pulse type of micro publishing gig. What went into its inception? What forces created Indie Blu(e)? What influences?
Kindra: When Christine and I first encountered one another, we recognized straight away that we share a passion for not only writing, but for helping other writers hone their creative voices. I think we first began talking about joining forces to build a publishing company in 2017. In 2018, we realized we already had the bones to build upon with the Indie Blu(e) Network, which we co-founded. The IBN began as a source for readers and writers to discover indie authors, and authors published through small presses.
Our shared vision has always been to represent the unconventional and underappreciated. Knowing what we wanted to represent was the easy part: razor edged, badass, blow a hole through societal norms types of writing. Christine and I spoke at great length regarding our mission, which is to work in a close partnership with our authors to create books that shine, and reflect the talent of the writers. Speaking for myself, I can’t imagine operating a press that didn’t focus on the aforementioned. My influences come from those who do things their own way. I don’t have the heart to do anything otherwise.
Christine and I definitely bet on our combined reputations as writers and editors when we announced the birth of Indie Blu(e) Publishing, and I know we were both happily surprised by the volume of submissions we received early on. Our submissions list continues to grow, and that is a personal success because it speaks to the trust we’ve earned in the writing community. The level of faith these writers have in us is humbling, and drives us to best ourselves with each new project.
Candice: I was fortunate enough to be asked by the founding members of Indie Blu(e) to come onboard. It struck me early on that Indie Blu(e) are unique in that you are not just a typical micro publishing house. As conceptualizers and publishers you have a very strong principle in the choices you make with publishing and it can be said you galvanize and bring together people over very powerful themes.
What do you think are the reasons you operate this way? What benefits do you believe come from linking your beliefs with your publishing acumen? How has IB shifted the micro publishing world by combining strong ideas with publishing? Did you feel a moral responsibility to do this? Did you talk about why this was important? After the Kavanaugh hearings and the #metoo movement, how did We Will Not Be Silenced come to be created?
Kindra: We make it easy for one another to use our individual platforms, sources, and Indie Blu(e) Publishing as a vehicle for advocacy because we all believe in the power of the collective voice. Personally speaking, I have always believed that as a writer, I have the power, privilege, and duty to speak for those who aren’t being heard, and who are marginalized.
I’m incredibly proud that IB has marched to the front line with We Will Not Be Silenced, and that the proceeds from WWNBS go to charities. So yes, I felt a moral responsibility. During the Kavanaugh hearings, there was a fire burning in the pit of me. When Christine suggested a collection of writings and art imparted by sexual assault and harassment survivors, I was all in without hesitation. And I think that a micro-publisher willing to speak so loudly and intimately about its beliefs shows its golden balls. In my dreams of success, Indie Blu(e) Publishing will be at the forefront of anthologies that shatter the foundations built by bureaucrats, hatred, selfishness, fear mongering, and willful ignorance.
Candice: I came onboard to work with you during the creation of We Will Not Be Silenced. In turn this influenced me to consider SMITTEN. Thanks to your idea of bringing voices together, I could see the value of an anthology of poets writing about love between women. You were open to the idea – why do you care so much about giving voices to those who are usually not heard?
Kindra: I’m too empathic not to. A lot of people don’t get upset enough over injustice and uncaring to rise up and help. I don’t understand that at all, and I don’t want to. I never want to know what it’s like to live quietly while my brothers and sisters of this world are suffering.
Candice: Since I have known you both, I have seen a powerful wave of influence coming from ideas you regularly have, where you create projects and communities and collectives and this raises the awareness and voices of authors we may not otherwise hear from. What are your influencing reason(s) for being so socially conscious? Do you think it is a prerequisite of someone in your position as publishers?
Kindra: A lot of my writing influences are authors who are/were involved in raising awareness and advocating in one way or another. Again, I see it as a privilege, and my duty to do the same. A lot of writers we are introduced to have important messages and sensitive life experiences they want to purge, and we hear the call to give them safe and secure outlets to speak their truths. If I weren’t socially conscious, I’d make for a poor publisher, I think.
Candice: Recently you have had a very successful series of poetry prompts on feminism and feminist books including many lesbian classics. Many of the authors in SMITTEN have participated and become part of your growing community of authors – thanks to your inclusive approach to authors and good ideas. Is this a necessary part of being a relevant and sensitive publisher?
Kindra: Absolutely. If IB ever lost that, I’d have to walk away. But that would never happen, so no worries.
Candice: What goals do you see going forward with Indie Blu(e) based especially on the wide influence you have already had in the writers communities?
Kindra: I’d like Indie Blu(e) to publish fiction. I’m a novelist at heart, and I’d love to work on crazy good novel. Also, we have a lot of great anthology ideas. I’d like to see IB at the front of micro-publishers who represent the best up and coming writers.
Candice: Is Indie Blu(e) a publishing house with a social conscience and if so, do you believe we should all aspire to consider this when committing to creative endeavors?
Kindra: Yes, we have a social conscience, and IB gravitated toward social issues and advocacy naturally. While I do believe we should all develop a strong social conscience and stand by our principles, I don’t think that every project needs to address feminism, sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc. IB is in a position where we can represent both gripping, entertaining fiction, and collections like WWNBS and SMITTEN.
Candice: With SMITTEN you were gracious enough to be a huge support in its creation. Why are you able to tap into the depths of a project and relate to it, even if it’s not exactly like your own lives? How did you learn to be responsive to subjects diverse to your own lives? And sensitive to the needs of minorities when dealing with neglected subjects such as rape, sexual abuse, lesbianism and inequality at large?
Kindra: I don’t know exactly why I can relate to people and experiences different from me and my own, other than to say that I’m highly empathic, and I’ve been around diversity my whole life; I’ve always had friends who were different from the majority, and I saw them struggle with misunderstanding and cruelty. I’ve also experienced a lot of direct disparagement.
I’ve been close with women who’ve been raped, my mother and sister being two of them. I grew up around domestic and sexual violence. I’ve spoken up for my cousin, and the children of some of my friends who are mistreated because of their sexual orientation. For me, it’s all about being human. To see another human being suffering in any way makes me ill, and the only level of relief for me is to use my platforms to address the issues.
I’m incredibly proud to be a part of SMITTEN. There’s no way I could have passed on the opportunity, and I thank you, Candice, for including me in this stellar project.