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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This scene opens Fat Diary, a comical short story I wrote for the book The Acorn Gathering.


January 20, 2001
Dear Fat Diary,

My nutritionist told me to write in you every day, until I can come to terms about why I’m not happy with my weight, and why I want to change. I’m supposed to call you my “love diary,” but I’m not trying to get rid of love; I’m trying to get rid of fat. We’ll talk about love later.

No, on second thought, we’ll talk about love now. I don’t have love because I have fat. If I didn’t weigh 260 pounds, I might be writing a love diary, and teenage girls would read it and swoon, while listening to the latest boybands and dreaming of that guy who sits in the second row of their American history class. Wait, that’s what I did at the University of Texas in Austin.

My name is Pamela Mae Willard, named after my Aunt Mae and my father, Samuel Carsons (yes, as in “Carsons Furniture, Acorn’s best-kept secret”). He wanted a Samuel Carsons, Jr. He had to settle with a Pamuel, which became Pamela, due to the mercy of the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and my passive-aggressive mom. She kept “accidentally” referring to my father as “Samueluel,” and when that bothered him, she said she “didn’t give a damnuel,” and when he wanted supper, she said he could fry some “Spamuel,” and if he wanted someone to keep him warm, he could “buy a cocker spaniel.” Even though she never actually said how much she hated the name “Pamuel,” the message came through clearly enough, and he eventually asked if Pamela Mae would be all right.

Pamela Mae sounded sufficiently dignified and Southern for a member of Acorn’s beloved Carsons family, so she consented, and soon began cooking meals that weren’t primarily composed of meat byproducts. Harmony soon returned to our home, and my parents adopted an unwanted newborn baby just over a year later, naming him Samuel, of course, but calling him “Sam.” If they were going to go through all of that just to call someone “Sam,” they probably could have named me Samantha! Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite in a position to impart my keen sense of logic at the time.

My parents were very happy with Sam, who would eventually join the Air Force. I taught Sunday school for a time and, after returning from college in Austin, managed the library.

Our childhood went by with very little trauma or disaster. Meteorites, tornadoes, and general flying debris never hit our house, unless you count acorns, pecans, and the occasional dust storm. Daddy wasn’t a drunk, though he always liked touring the wineries that keep popping up around West Texas. Mom didn’t have a secret past, unless it’s still Acorn’s best-kept secret, to use that tired catch phrase I mentioned before, the one Daddy’s store shares with most of Acorn’s local advertisers. And my adopted brother didn’t turn out to be a space alien, despite my early suspicions; in fact, he and I remain the best of friends. Regardless of how some people around here make it sound, the sky isn’t always falling in Acorn, at least not for our family. I had loving parents and a happy, well-rounded childhood.

“Well-rounded.” Bad word choice.

I grew taller fast during my early teens, so much so that my mom worried I might have some sort of thyroid disorder, and it seemed like I needed to eat a lot for my body to keep up with its own growth. But then I stopped growing. Upward, that is. Then I got fat, and I stayed fat. So here I am, writing in my fat diary. Worst of all, I’ll probably wind up writing about my joke of a short-lived marriage.

I’m supposed to examine key moments from any of my amazing thirty-something years, and find reasons to love myself, all the while congratulating myself for the conclusions I reach.

Do I get a lollipop for that?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bio, With Links. Updated 8/3/2017.

Duane Simolke (pronounced “Dwain Smoky”). Education: Belmont University (B.A., ‘89, Nashville, TN), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., ‘91, Abilene, TX), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., ‘96, Lubbock, TX), all with a major in English.

Writing published in nightFire, Mesquite, Caprock Sun, Midwest Poetry Review, International Journal on World Peace, and many other publications.

I also wrote the preface to Ronald L. Donaghe’s gay novel Lance: The Continuing Journals of Will Barnett.

Who’s Who Among America’s Colleges and Universities, 1988-89.

At the Conference on Christianity and Literature, presented papers, "Pilgrim's Progress As Satire" (1990) and "C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces" (1991).

1991, Masters Thesis, This Present Darkness and Its Influences.

Two Texas Tech University English Department Harbinger Awards for Excellence in Short Fiction.

1996, Doctoral Dissertation, Stein, Gender, Isolation and Industrialism: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio.

At the 2001 Convention of The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA), spoke on the panel “Writing with a Texas Twist.”

Two StoneWall Society 2002 Pride In The Arts Awards. Acceptance for The Acorn Stories. Acceptance for Holding Me Together.

2003 StoneWall Society Pride in the Arts award for Degranon.

Dann Hazel used Reactions to Homophobia (a long essay from Holding Me Together) as one of the resources for his book Witness: Gay and Lesbian Clergy Report from the Front. Kris Coonan, UQ Union, University of Queensland, used it as a resource for his article Sexual Prejudice: Understanding Homophobia and Heterosexism, Biphobia and Transphobia. The Queensland Government's Community Benefit Fund and PFLAG Brisbane used it as a resource for the PDF booklet Assisting Those Who Come Into Regular Contact with Lesbian and Gay Youth. November 2003, at the Texas Book Festival, signed copies of The Acorn Stories.

October 2005, lead the discussion Gay Symbols and History.

Three of my books recognized as iUniverse Editor’s Choice books: The Acorn Stories, Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, and Holding Me Together.

February 2006, part of View from Brokeback Mountain panel discussion.

June 2006: The Acorn Stories and Holding Me Together featured in discussions and spoken word presentations at the first StoneWall Society Pride in the Arts Festival, Walton, West Virginia.

Noted a few times during Jed Ryan’s interview with StoneWall Society’s founder.

The Return of Innocence received a 2007 Allbooks Reviewer’s Choice Award.

March 2007: Featured author at Razor Pages.

July 2009: Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure discussed in Encyclopedia of Contemporary LGBTQ Literature of the United States.

May 2010: Featured in books Belmont University People: Belmont University Alumni, Belmont University Faculty, Trisha Yearwood, Kimberley Locke, Brad Paisley and Hardin-Simmons University Alumni: Doyle Brunson, Buddy West, Rupert N. Richardson, Dan Blocker, Victor G. Carrillo, George H. Mahon.

August 2010: Interview at AuthorIsland.

September 2010: Featured Writer, Bitsy Bling's Book Review.

August 2010: Interview at AuthorIsland.

October 2016: Sons of Taldra Interview at Prism Book Alliance.

September 2016: Interview at Our Queer Art.

October 2016: Sons of Taldra Interview at Prism Book Alliance.

November 2016: Degranon featured at shahwharton.com.

March 2017: The Acorn Stories at Book of the Month Club.

April 2017: Our Epic Worlds SciFi Interview: The Epic World of Valchondria by Duane Simolke.

June 2017: Fire and Ice: Fiction Feature and Author Interview: The Acorn Stories by Duane Simolke.

June 2017: Sons of Taldra Review at Enas Reviews.

July 2017: SelfPublishingReview.Com Reviews Taldra. “A highly-imaginative sci-fi adventure set in an alternate universe.”

August 2017: The Acorn Stories featured in Publishers Weekly.