Jun 052014

The annual lambda literary awards are always one of the highlights of my year, they are  an opportunity to celebrate the importance of LGBTQ literature, authors and readers!

my partner Kestryl and I (along with my chicken purse) on the red carpet!

Check out more red carpet photos here

This yearI had the honor of attending as a presenter for the first time- it was super nerve wracking and also really fun. I co-presented this years LGBT Anthology category with William Johnson – here we are on stage together !

The awards opened this year which a beautiful compilation video that many of us had contributed to answering lambda call about what LGBTQ book had Saved our life. I can’t embed the video here but you can watch it here

This video really set the stage for what was a beautiful evening. Part of what I love most about the Lammys is the way that queer writing and literature are  celebrated, and how queer authors descend on NYC. It’s a night that I look forward to every yea, and reminds me about the amazing community of LGBTQ writers that I feel so grateful to be part of. Growing up I was never a popular kid, friendship and community was always really hard for me, I felt alone most of the time. The older I’ve gotten, the more this has changed – finding queer literary community has been a huge part of that. Queer literary community has become such an important part of my life, the source of some of my closest friendships and connections. The Lammys are an amazing opportunity to get together with queer literary folks I don’t see often!

Amber Dawn getting silly before the awards!

photo by Efrain Gonzalez

A huge highlight of the night for me was getting to see folks that I admire receive awards for their work.  My friend the fantastic Michael Thomas Ford was a recipient of this year’s mid-career writing award and gave the sweetest speach about literary friendship he has with so many of us in the room that night – the sweet things he said about me had me in tears.

I’m so grateful to the queer literary community for writing the books that inspired me, that saved me, and encouraged me to write my own stories. All of the acceptance speeches were outstanding this year. It was incredible to see Allison Bechdel receive her Trustees Award for Excellence in Literature and hear her talk about the experience of receiving her first Lammy in 1991.

The absolute highlight of the night was getting to see Kate Bornstein accept the Pioneer Award.  I believe fully that my literary career is where it is today because of the friends and mentors I have made and met. When I was 19 I met Kate, she came to Portland Oregon to lead a week long writing workshop that culminated in the creation of a performance troupe/show called “The Language of Paradox”  Kate kicked my ass as a writer in ways that I really needed and she inspired me to make a big jump in my career from writing zines to writing books and helped me to harness anger that was running wild in my writing at that time.

I’m so glad that someone captured Kate’s incredible Lammy acceptance speech  on video because despite my attempts at live tweeting everything about the Lammy awards 140 characters just couldn’t capture the brilliance of everything she said— definitely my favorite part was this quote “Someone pioneer a queer community that doesn’t eat it’s own

The 2014 Lammys were so fabulous, I had incredible conversations with authors, publishers, and editors – I really can’t wait until next year! You can follow more about the Lammys on twitter at #Lammys –  I’m @SassafrasLowrey if we aren’t already friends over there please add me!:)

 Posted by at 5:40 pm
Apr 242014

I’m so thrilled to be co-curating this fantastic show later this year! Check out the amazing poster that was designed by the one and only Cristy C. Road!!!!  There’s more info about the event on the tumblr including a list of books being made into dioramas – hint hint Roving Pack is among them!!!

 Posted by at 10:11 pm
Apr 062014

Queers!!! Lambda Literary Foundation is asking us about what LGBTQ books saved our lives! They have started  crowd-sourced campaign to collect brief videos or photographs that spread the word about inspirational books, poems, graphic novels, or other life-changing pieces of literature with the world. Contributions will become part of the 26th Annual Lambda Literary Awards celebration and help build up their social media efforts to increase the visibility of queer writing both within and outside our community! More info here

I had such a hard time picking which books to talk about! but finally selected two very different but well loved books:


 Posted by at 11:03 pm
Mar 122014

I first met Toni Amato through his words. I was a crusty punk kid living in Portland, Oregon and some friends of mine had heard about a new book called ‘Pinned Down By Pronouns’ which he co-edited. I was the only person in my circle of friends with a credit card, so I purchased the book and was utterly smitten.  I had no idea that nearly 10 years later Toni would have become a dear friend, trusted colleague in queer story facilitation, an invaluable mentor in my own writing, and most important of all a beloved member of my chosen family.

I cannot speak highly enough about Toni and his work in the community.  There are few people I’ve met who truly walk what they speak, who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, and who truly commit themselves fully to those amongst us who are wounded, freaks, and other outsiders. Because of where I’m from and what i’ve survived trust isn’t something that comes easily to me. I can count on less than one hand the number of people in the world that I truly and completely trust.  Toni is one of those people.

Toni emotionally and professionally supported me as I edited Kicked Out, and he has been one of my most trusted editors and writing coaches. He helped me to fall in love with writing again when I had lost my words, and he was a vital editor and guide as I wrote Roving Pack. It is because of my work with Toni that Roving Pack exists. 

The past couple of years have been hard for Toni he’s battled physical and mental health crisis. He’s in a rough place right now and in need of community support as he takes the season of Lent off of his work supporting the writing of marginalized queers and to focus inward on healing.  To help support him I’m having a special Roving Pack sale – 100% of the proceeds of e-books of Roving Pack purchased will go directly to Toni to support him during this time of healing!!!! Purchase Roving Pack or make your own donation to Toni directly through the Write Here Write Now site

 Posted by at 12:57 am
Feb 132014

I want to get back to more frequent blogging. It’s been interesting for me to see the ways the frequency of my blogging here comes in waves, how when I am at my busiest writing times my blogging tends to slow down. This most recent quietness here fits that trend I’ve been so busy writing on the book that all other writing has been on the back burner a little bit. 12 years ago this week I became homeless. It was fast and sudden and unexpected. One day I was living with my dog trainer who had helped me escape my mom, the next day she read my journal, realized I was a dyke and called my school to tell me she wouldn’t be picking me up that day, that I shouldn’t come “home” again. The days that followed were the inspiration for what became Kicked Out- and it’s incredible for me to look back at that time. I never could have imagined that 12 years later this would be my life, that I would have this incredible queer family, and an incredible community that includes all of you!

I mark the things that matter the most to me in blood and ink, being selected as the recipient of the emerging author award from the Lambda Literary Foundation and walking across the stage at the Lammys to receive the ward this year is one of the biggest honors, and most important things that has ever happened to me. I knew instantly when I got the award that I needed to make that moment physically part of me. I couldn’t get the tattoo right after the Lammys because it was summer and I had beach vacations planned, so this winter was the ideal time to make this experience permanently part of me.

Lost Boi, my new novel which is a queer/leather retelling of the Peter Pan story has captured me completely and has been a primary focus for me.  In December I sent out the first draft to a group of beta readers. It’s so important for me as a writer not to exist in a vacuum and to get feedback on my work, sending out early drafts is also a super vulnerable process especially since most of the content of Lost Boi was very raw and although I had talked through some of the plot points with people close to me, the story had never been read. I got some amazing and truly valuable feedback from readers and spent the month of January and the first part of February incorporating all of it into a reworking of the novel. This week I finished the rewrite and couldn’t be more pleased with how it has come together. I think that this new book is the best thing that I’ve ever written, its plot challenged me in new ways and I’m thrilled to see what the community thinks of it when it goes out into the world! I’m currently working on query materials and really look forward to seeing what the future holds for this novel.

Although my primary focus of my creative work has definitely been on Lost Boi, I’ve also been trying to do lots of other writing, I’ve had some work accepted into upcoming anthologies that I’m very excited about, and I also was invited to write a chapter on how to write about trans characters for an upcoming YA writers guide (more details on all of this very soon!). It was fun to work in short form again and reminded me how much anthologies have been an important part of my literary life both as a reader and as a writer. My little pink planner (I went back to a physical planner for 2014) is filled with deadlines for other anthologies whose calls for submission have captured my interest and sparked the idea of a story.   I’m hoping to find (and prioritize) the time/focus/inspiration to write and submit stories for at least some of these projects.

Outside of writing I’ve been keeping busy. The big project (other than writing Lost Boi) I’m working on right now is the Queer Book Diorama exhibit I’m co-curating Hugh Ryan! The book dioramas will be on display at the New York Public Library Jefferson Market branch in August/September. The exhibit is being supported by the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, and the Lambda Literary Foundation and is going to be an incredible time for the community to come together and explore together what queer books mean to us. So far Hugh and I have gotten proposals from all over the United States, Canada and even from several countries in Europe! Have you been impacted by a queer book?  Have you as a queer person had a powerful connection to a book?  Have you submitted your proposal yet???? More info here

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which writing, activism and identity go together. Last week I was included in Marcie Bianco’s article  “Queer Writing and the Strictures of Identity Politics” on Lambda Literary exploring Queer literature as a genre and what it means to be a queer writer, or a writer who is queer (the former is more accurate for me, the later for some of my peers. It was a interesting conversation, and one that I was really honored to be included in. I know that this is just the beginning part of a larger conversation that Marcie (and others) are interested in having, and I’m really excited about continuing to participate from the perspective of someone whose goals are to write niche stories by/for queer audiences. Check out the full conversation here

Several months ago I recorded an interview with the Prairie Schooner’s radio show Air Schooner about writing and activism. The show which also included my buddy Kit Yan as well as essayist Katie Hogan is focused around queer activism within the written word, and the way that writing can be a form of activism. The interview came together super well and I’m so pleased when I see literary publications tackling the intersections of queer politics and creativity! Check out the episode here.




 Posted by at 8:06 pm
Jan 252014

A buddy of mine sent me this picture of Roving Pack in the Carnegie library in Pittsburg!!!!!!  and just this week someone else messaged me that they had found Roving Pack at the library in Oakland, California!!!! One thing I really really love is when folks message me on facebook or twitter letting me know that they’ve seen one of my books out in the world!  It’s one of the neatest feelings to really know that the book is really out in the world and that folks are finding it!  If you see Roving Pack, or any of my books in a library or bookstore please tweet or facebook me about it!!!!

 Posted by at 8:02 pm
Nov 282013

This time of year I talk a lot about my own experiences with chosen family and reclaimed holiday magic, in so many ways this is my most favorite time of the year, but it’s also not always easy. I have never regretted my decision to runaway, to save myself, but I’ve also never forgotten that first thanksgiving when I had no family, when my beloved queer family hadn’t yet solidified into something I knew I could depend on. I know what it’s like to have nowhere to go, and what it’s like to be someone’s pity invite. Sitting with someone else’s family, trying not to take up too much space, and trying to disassociate into the gravy bowl. For me being a queer writer means capturing those hard moments with as much intensity as I write about the beautiful moments of us coming together and creating queer families. For me this is true in both my fiction and nonfiction writing and in my novel Roving Pack that meant I wanted to capture that feeling of chaos, rejection, abandonment, and anger that Click experiences when ze grapples with Thanksgiving:

From Roving Pack

“Date: November 28, 2002
Security: Friends
Subject: Thanksgiving

I called Mrs. Snow back after all the crazy shit at the hotel. I had to apologize because when I hung up the phone I said I would be calling right back, and then of course I didn’t. She said it was ok and that since she had heard a bunch of yelling in the background she was just glad to hear I was ok. It was only a couple days ago that I called her, and when I filled her in a little bit on where I’ve been the last year or so, she asked if I had thanksgiving plans. I said no. She said I had to come to her house and have thanksgiving with her family. I didn’t really want to go, but I said ok after she told me I should bring Orbit.

I woke up late this morning, it was hard to sleep knowing this stupid holiday was going to be there in the morning. Billy was gone. He spent the night with Hope at her squat because they had agreed to try to see their parents together today. I didn’t even want to come over to Mrs. Snow’s place but I’d said I would, so I had to. I asked if I should bring anything and she said no so I didn’t have to do any cooking, just get myself cleaned up. I took a shower and re-shaved my mohawk. I thought about dying it again but I was out of green dye and of course everything was fucking closed today for the holiday. My work pants were mostly clean and I put on a black button down that I snagged for fifty cents at the thrift store a couple days ago.

Dinner was awkward. Orbit and I got there right as everyone was sitting down to eat. It was Mrs. Snow and her husband, their two little kids, and another grownup couple with their three kids. I sat at a table with all these parents and little kids and I realized that there was pretty much nothing about my life that was safe to talk about. I ate turkey. The kids couldn’t sit still for very long and kept running around the room trying to get Orbit to play with them. They asked a lot of questions about my hair, piercings and tattoos but then their parents would shush them. I wonder what Mrs. Snow told her friends about me. After dinner they were all going to wander around looking at Christmas lights.

Mrs. Snow’s youngest kid was cold and had to go to bed so I came back to the house with them. On the way back, Mrs. Snow said she’d run into my birth mom again and mentioned that I’d be coming for Thanksgiving. I know Mrs. Snow probably meant well but I was really angry that she’d say anything about me to my birth mom! She said my mom got really weird and told her to be careful because I was a drug addict. I was so mad. Orbit came and sat in my lap, and I tried to explain to Mrs. Snow what XXX means but she said she had to put the baby to bed. I saw a computer in the living room. I asked if I could check my email before I left and she said of course which is how I’m online right now. I’m getting out of here in a few minutes. I don’t know why I tried to get back in touch with her in the first place. I really hope that Billy’s around when I get back to the apartment.”

This is a complicated time of year for so many of us. I’m so blessed with my chosen queer family and the way our connection has turned the holidays from something that I dreaded into my most favorite time of year. That said, I would be lying if I said I didn’t cringe every time someone asks/assumes I’m going “home” for the holidays. This is probably my biggest pet peeve this time of year made more frustrating because it’s such a blanket assumption that seems to permeate every area of our society from television commercials and casual checkout line conversations, and even all to often our own LGBT community. One really easy way to be an ally is to strike that line from your conversations and replace it with a more open question like asking what someone’s plans are.

I know that this time of year is really hard for a lot of us. If you’re someone whose struggling with the holidays a lot right now.

You are not alone. Let me repeat that again. You are not alone. If you are in the states you know that tomorrow is a rough day for many of us. It’s a day when society tells us that we should feel ashamed of who we are because our family doesn’t look this iconic image of what family “should” be. Take care of yourself. If you’re struggling, I suggest staying away from television and radio (they will just be full of ads that will make you feel worse), go to a park, take yourself to a movie, take a bath, write a story, talk to a friend, or counselor, or hotline, eat cupcakes, draw pictures, workout. Essentially make time even if it’s just five or ten minutes to honor that this is a rough day and that you deserve to do something that makes you feel good about who you are. There are thousands of us for whom to varying degrees today is rough. Take care of yourself, and each other, and remember that you’re not alone.

Here’s the thing- if you are lonely or struggling with family rejection this thanksgiving weekend I’m not going to try to minimize how you’re feeling, but what I can tell you is that you’re not alone. To help you feel less alone, email me at KickedOutAnthology AT gmail.com and I will send you a ebook copy of Kicked Out. The whole point of that anthology was to build community, to foster kicked out families. This time of year can be hard, and sometimes reading the stories of other folks who have had similar experiences.

<3 <3 <3 <3

 Posted by at 12:18 am
Nov 212013

Are you starting your holiday shopping?  Hanukkah is just one week away, and Christmas in less than five! You know what makes a great gift? BOOKS!  Know what makes an even better gift?  Books purchased from indie bookstores or direct from authors and signed/dedicated to your friend/partner/crush/ex, your old GSA, former youth center or whoever else you’re holiday shopping for!

This year for the holidays please consider the gift of Roving Pack- the novel Lambda Literary calls “Political, raucous, dark, and totally engrossing” and the Huffington Post says  is “a guiding light in the darkness of the false binary illusion of gender we’ve been too lazy to address” and click here to see all the amazing things some of your favorite Queer authors have said about the novel 

Order Roving Pack between now and December 10th  you’ll get this special set of one inch buttons featuring the original artwork by KD Diamond!!!! ::hint:: they make great stocking stuffers OR you can keep them for yourself!


The kids in Roving Pack even get into all kinds of mischief on Christmas – see what I mean:

To find out what happens you’ll just have to read the book!  


 Posted by at 4:28 am