Tweets by @DuaneSimolke
Monday, June 29, 2009
"Acorn": When we arrive at the fictional West Texas town of Acorn, the narrative keeps shifting between Regina and Dirk, who both seek control over their relationship.
"Flip, Turn": A different scene from the narrator's amusing but unproductive life comes to him every time he turns to swim in the opposite direction.
"Keeping A Secret": A little boy wants to shield his mother and his little brother from a dangerous situation.
"Survival": A young teacher (both deaf and gay) clashes with his school's emphasis of uniformity over diversity and sports over academics.
"Paying The Rent": In this politically incorrect tale, an inarticulate young man hopes to marry a rich woman so he can pay the rent, but he finds her repulsive.
"Morgana Le Fay": A widow finds her new romance disrupted by her Siamese cat's strange behavior.
"Your Daughter": Gretchen's approach to raising a daughter and maintaining a marriage requires ignoring problems and carefully orchestrating conversations.
"Knock": A father sees his daughter abandon her Mexican heritage, and he now fears other types of abandonment.
"Come With Me": The conflictive influence of her overbearing sister and her supportive husband forces Becky to re-evaluate her ambitions.
"Dead Enough": Farcical look at English departments, tabloid TV, the publishing industry, and America's superstar culture.
"Mae": Standing by her husband's grave, an elderly woman looks back at the joys and challenges of marriage and motherhood.
"Timothy Fast": In this satirical retelling of the Faustian myth, a Jewish businessman finds himself pulled into small-town politics.
"Mirrors: A Blackmail Letter": The owner of an art gallery becomes the target of a "family values" witch-hunt, spear-headed by Acorn's closeted (“ex-gay”) mayor.
"Echoes": A time of unexpected changes for Becky and her husband.
"Oak": Julie Briggs can only talk to her mother by leaving messages on her answering machine, but she refuses to give up her voice.
"Acorn Pie": An unusual weekend in the life of an unusual town.
Read the reviews at Kirkus, Amazon.Com, Amazon.Com (1st edition), bn.com (2nd edition), and bn.com (1st edition).
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Of course, many of the most popular online videos right now involve the protests over Iran’s election. See farzinfakhraei’s channel for some of those videos.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Visit the West Texas town of Acorn! Enjoy the German festival, a high school football game, homemade apple pie from the Turner Street Cafe, and the cool shade of a hundred-year-old oak tree. Meet dedicated teachers, unusual artists, shrewd business owners, closet cases, and concerned neighbors. See how lives become intertwined in moments of humor or tragedy. Just be careful, because in Acorn, the sky is always falling!
From romantic comedy to razor-sharp satire to moments of quiet reflection, these award-winning tales transform a fictional West Texas town into a tapestry of human experiences.
- “A lush tangle of small-town life branches out in this engrossing collection of short stories.” –Kirkus Reviews
- “Simolke shares life’s beautiful and humorous moments side by side with the devastating and painful ones, and the contrast is palpable.” –The RedHead Notes
- “For those who are searching for a book which is written so well that you are able to enjoy a respite from reality and enter into a fictional world…this is the book for you!” –LeonardTillerman.Com
- “Duane Simolke is one of our great American writers just ready to be recognized as such. He has the talent and the imagination and the humanity and the perspective to make each of our lives richer. Bravo!” –Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
- “I found this book to be a perfect vacation companion.” –A. Chandler
- “These highly believable settings and naturally developed characters could be anywhere in the nation.” —TMDGReviews
- “I love the numerous small wins of the characters and the unexpected turns of luck.” –Billy O.
- “You’ll want to read every story to the very end of the book to grasp the concept of the interweaving relationships of these characters that at first glance appear to have no connection.” –RLWood.Rocks Book Reviews
- “Having spent quite a bit of time in Texas, I could see each character matching someone I know or have met in my time there.” –Noel D
- “Amazing and hard to put down.” –Kimmie Sue’s Book Review and More
- “Snapshots of the lives of people and their life-changing encounters that will leave lasting impressions on you.” –Michelle Williams
- “Readers who enjoy immersive first person stories about small town life and the human condition will love this book.” –Purple
- “The author demonstrates a healthy understanding of human nature.” –John H. Mangold
- “Amazing and hard to put down.” –Kimmie Sue’s Book Review and More
- “A talented, insightful author.” –E. Conley, Betty's Books
- “The town is Acorn, Texas, and it is a representation of all of the tiny places, or wide places in the road that dot America.” –jonboy
- “If you liked WINESBURG, OHIO . . . rejoice.” –Watchword
- “By the time you have finished reading these tales of the people who inhabit the fictitious town of Acorn, Texas, population 21,001, you will have met some endearing as well as irritating characters, from the Mayor to the local would-be gigolo; from the busy-bodies to the business owners; from those who grew up in Acorn and have tried to escape the small town to those who have moved to Acorn to escape from the real world.” –Ronald L. Donaghe, author of Uncle Sean
- “A well-crafted collection of short stories.” –L. L. Lee, author of Taxing Tallula
- “It was a real pleasure to read about the fictional town of Acorn, Texas.” –Mark Kendrick, author of Desert Sons
- “Simolke makes good use of his vivid imagination in creating credible dialogue and satirical images.” –Huda Orfali, author of Blue Fire
- “There are people that you like, some that you can't wait to see if they get theirs.” –Joe Wright, StoneWall Society
- “Each of Simolke's stories lets us look into the lives of some of the most interesting characters I have ever read about.” –Amos Lassen, Literary Pride
- “When you finish, when you put the book aside, Acorn will still be with you.” –E. Carter Jones, author of Absence of Faith
- “I highly recommend this book!” –Richard Carlson, author of Jeremy Grabowski's Crazy Summer in Stormville!
- “…reminds us that nobody is perfect and that everyone is just trying to get by in life either it be by hurting others or by trying to change their life for the better.” —The Abstract
Read about The Acorn Stories at Booksta, an app that pays in coins after readers successfully answer questions about featured books.
(Blog entry updated 8/31/2022.)
By Duane Simolke
Winner, Pride in the Arts Award
The brilliant scientist Taldra loves her twin gay sons and thinks of them as the hope for Valchondria’s future, but one of them becomes entangled in the cult of Degranon, and the other becomes stranded on the other side of a doorway through time. Can they find their way home and help Taldra save their world?
- “This is an incredible book about the human condition and how one person striving for the good can, in the end, be a source of change.” –Rainbow Reviews
- “So for those who want a thought provoking and fun sci-fi read, then I would highly recommend Degranon; so hover on over to the bookstore and check this one out.”—Blogger Girls
- “In Degranon, author Duane Simolke establishes his voice in gay genre writing by combining current concerns revolving around queer culture with a world of dimensional doorways, advanced technology, and distant planets.” –X-Factor, October 1, 2004 issue
- “It's a very good story.” –HomoMojo.Com and I Must Be Dreaming
- “A must read.” – Joe Wright, for StoneWall Society
- “A reminder of the danger of fanaticism.” –Mark Kendrick, author of Stealing Some Time
- “Duane Simolke's latest offering is a fascinating scifi excursion into a world as unique as his singular vision.” –Ronald L. Donaghe, author of Cinátis
- “I recommend DEGRANON for its exciting, well-constructed narrative, its often intriguing characters, and its wealth of ideas both political and philosophical.” –J. Clark
- “DEGRANON is sci-fi that warrants the attention of any serious aficionado, gay or straight, fascinated by alien worlds that mirror our own world.” –William Maltese, author of Beyond Machu
Though it takes place on other worlds, all the characters in this book are people we might call Native American, African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Middle Eastern. Some of them are also gay. Degranon deals with themes of diversity, censorship, and religious violence. It takes place in an alternate dimension, with some of our prejudices and other problems looked at from unusual angles. More importantly for most scifi fans, though, it delivers fast-paced action and constant twists.
Nook, Fishpond.co.nz, Fishpond.co.au, Degranon: Kindle eBook, Kindle Germany, Gay Science Fiction Worlds, Gay Science Fiction for Canadian Readers, Gay Science Fiction for the UK, SciFi/Fantasy Adventure, Gay Science Fiction at bn.com, Fantasy Adventure at bn.com, Gay Fantasy at bn.com, Science Fiction Adventure at bn.com.
Monday, June 15, 2009
During my teen years, I wrote several science fiction and fantasy stories. Most of those got lost during moves, but one of them grew into the novel Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, which led to the sequel Sons of Taldra. I occasionally tried to develop a novel from my 1983 fantasy story “The Return of Innocence.”
The novel, however, remained unfinished for years, still a sketchy jumble of drafts and notes with potential. I eventually considered cowriting it with a fantasy author. When I mentioned the idea to my friend Toni Davis, she decided to read through some of the chapters and quickly fell in love with my fantasy world of Theln. Toni mostly wrote poetry and fan fiction back then, but wanted to explore new characters.
Toni brought fresh perspectives to a long-neglected project by interjecting ideas, fleshing out characters, and exposing flaws. Unfortunately, work and her own projects took her away from Theln. Eventually, I combined our ideas to write a complete draft. Though the finished book only includes a little of her writing, it also contains her inspiration, and I appreciate her efforts in making sure I could finish Sasha Varov’s story. I revised the novel in 2017.
Duane Simolke, Lubbock, Texas
Saturday, June 13, 2009
We’re Glad Our Son Is Gay
The following excerpt comes from the revised, second edition of my novel Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure.
The planet Valchondria seems advanced and remarkably humane in many ways. But the government regulates people's weight, reproduction, theology, actions, and speech; the government also forbids travel and contact beyond Valchondria's atmosphere. A charismatic leader called "Gazer" leads the cult of Degranon; he promises change, but at a violent and oppressive cost. In between these two dystopias (failed Utopias), we find Taldra and Hachen, striving to make a better world for their twin sons. Obviously, the book raises many social issues, but it often does so in humorous or exciting ways. This scene obviously pokes fun at the ridiculous Earth tradition known as "homophobia," but it still has some scary overtones. (The Valchondrians use "same-gendered" in place of the words “gay” or “homosexual.”)
Her gray eyes sparkled like no eyes Hachen had ever seen. Actually, she had broken the law by secretly telling him that her eyes were light brown, but, unlike his gifted spouse, he couldn’t see in color. He couldn’t even see the redness of her skin, though he knew from history class that most people on Valchondria have red, brown, or black skin, and some of the people who had once lived there had yellow or white skin. To him, everyone simply looked white or black.
During history classes, before the Maintainers expunged certain anti-glory facts from the school curriculum, Hachen had learned about how white-skinned people and yellow-skinned people faded from existence. After the Supreme Science Council realized that those two races contracted certain illnesses that no one else contracted, they worked with the Maintainers to pass a constitutional amendment, banning any two members of those races from marrying. The measure supposedly protected Valchondria’s families and stability. Within three generations, both races ceased to exist; only the red, black, and brown races remained obvious, or some mixture of the three.
That time in Valchondria’s history brought outcries of shame, and the government vowed to never again use the law to promote bigotry. But then, little more than a hundred years later, the SSC found that obesity caused many illnesses, adding to increased national healthcare costs. So another constitutional amendment passed, this one allowing the Maintainers to fine people for not keeping a healthy height-to-weight ratio.
And after the virus came, the Maintainers and the SSC passed yet another constitutional amendment that promoted discrimination. That one made the ridiculous assertion that discussing colorsightedness posed a heavy hazard threat to traditional values, and that claiming to be colorsighted was nothing more than a plea for so-called “special rights.” It amazed Hachen that a civilized culture could keep taking away people’s civil rights. It also hurt him, because the woman he loved was the target of that bigotry.
And the new forms of bigotry kept emerging. Next came legally permitted language, initially called “socially recommended rhetoric,” creeping slowly into schools and the media and then into the law. And then Maintainer cameras came. And freedom left. All in the names of preserving traditional Valchondrian values. All suffocating Valchondrian creativity, thought, and progress.
Hachen clasped the slender hand that reached toward the tiny person in the infant pod that was attached to the bed.
“I’ll get him,” said Hachen. He gently lifted the pale infant, who was wrapped in a white cloth as soft and warm as his skin.
“I was hoping to be able to say ‘them.’” She accepted the crying child into her arms, and he grew quiet as she rocked him back and forth.
“We had to work quickly. It’s bad enough we’re violating the codes. We can’t jeopardize Geln’s career as well as our own.”
“I know, Hachen. I just wanted a chance to see them both. I can’t believe I passed out during the birth.”
“I think those mind relaxants had something to do with it. I’m just glad no other healers came in. No one knows except for you, me, and Geln.”
“Wouldn’t the gossip masters love this story? ‘Leading scientists discover a rift in time and transport illegal twin into the past. Check your collector for details.’” She rubbed the tiny infant’s red face, and he seemed to smile. “Is this Argen, or Telius?”
“Argen,” said Hachen, sitting down on the edge of the bed. They had agreed on given names for the twins long before Taldra even started showing. “They’re identical. I performed a genetic scan; they’re both healthy and of potentially high intellect. Telius will need that to survive in his primitive environment.”
“But you said the village is peaceful. Hachen, where are we sending our baby?”
“Someplace where he at least has a chance.” Hachen had never seen her look so vulnerable before, like anyone could crush her with a touch. Before, she always projected herself as brave and outspoken, sometimes even reckless, but he could tell becoming a mother would change her. Somehow, she seemed less courageous but more protective. He tried to think of words to reassure her. “The village is peaceful. I just meant that he won’t have all the luxuries and protections we have. He’ll be like…well, like a colonist.”
The look of worry gave way to one of wonder. “I like that analogy.” She smiled at the baby who slept in her arms. “Maybe one day, we’ll all be on one colony together, the four of us.”
“That sounds nice. To the side, the genetic scan also showed that they’re both same-gendered.” Hachen used the term with pride, and Taldra smiled with the same pride. At least no one ever came up with the crumbled idea of discriminating against people who identified romantically and emotionally with members of their own gender. No culture could ever be that rusted, he told himself, but then thought again of how utterly ridiculous he saw all other forms of bigotry; none of it made sense. Discrimination and prejudice never made any sense at all to Hachen.
SWS Pride in the Arts For The Record Award! Reactions to Homophobia counters anti-gay comments (“Adam and Steve," “Sodom and Gomorrah,” “special rights,” “cures,” etc.). The revised, second edition of Holding Me Together begins with an updated version of Reactions to Homophobia, followed by poems and short essays on a variety of topics, such as writing, AIDS, religion, racism, violence, friendship, family, and gay relationships. It also includes many new or newly revised essays and poems.
Visit the Smashwords page for Holding Me Together to read Reactions to Homophobia. Just click your choice under “Available Ebook reading formats.” It’s part of the free preview.
Table of Contents
Part One: Reactions to Homophobia, An Essay
Reactions to Homophobia: Introduction. “Unlike gay people, I don't tell people what my wife and I do in bed.” “They can be gay, as long as they hide it.” “If a normal guy or a white guy gets beat up, hate crimes laws can't help him. That isn't fair.” “I’m not queer, so why I should care about those people?” “We shouldn't have to see gays when we watch TV or movies.” “I would accept gays, but I believe in family values.” “Family members spending time with their gay relatives would suggest that they endorse that lifestyle.” “They live that gay lifestyle.” “It's an insult to African Americans to compare being gay to being black.” “The parts don't fit.” “If we weren't so tolerant of gays, there wouldn't be any.” “I wouldn't mind gays if it weren't for them checking me out.” “Having gay parents makes children gay.” “Gay people should try to be cured.” “Homosexuality is a mental illness.” “If everyone were gay, we'd stop having children, and die out.” “You deserve what happens to you, because you choose to be gay.” “Accepting homosexuality destroyed empires like Greece and Rome, and even led to the Holocaust.” “They recruit.” “They just haven't met the right person of the opposite sex yet.” “Gays can't adopt, because their children will get teased, and that isn't fair.” “God sent AIDS to the homosexuals because He loves His children and wants to turn them back to Him.” “God didn't create Adam and Steve.” “The Bible says it's wrong.” “The Bible says God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of gays.” “I love the sinner, hate the sin.” “Anyone who condones homosexuality can’t be religious or moral.” “We can't allow gay marriages, because tradition protected heterosexual marriage and reproduction for thousands of years.” “Public schools need to quit hiring gays and quit promoting homosexuality.” “Gays can't serve in the military, because that would disrupt efficiency.” “Surveys prove gays are a much smaller number than they claim, that their average lifespan is 44 years, and that they have 5000-15,000 partners per year.” “Homosexuals are just a bunch of men dressing up like women.” Reactions to Homophobia: Conclusion. Resources for Reactions to Homophobia.
Part Two: Poems and Short Essays Home. Chasing Seagulls. Rainbow. How “Children in the Streets” Wrote Itself. Children in the Streets. Children in the Streets (Song Version). Friday Afternoon Spectrum. Reception. Album. Can God Cure You? Digging Up “The Gardener.” The Gardener. second year. Separated. Angels and Razors. Question. Faces, Parts I-VII. Process. Songs In Sign Language. Forgotten. Sock Poem. Higher Education. Haiku. TV Senyru. Not Worth Dying Over. Siblings, Ten Voices. Homeless, I: Cities Don't Build People. Homeless, II: Also. Family. Ex-Gay? Part I: Cocoon. Ex-Gay? Part II: The Ex-Me Movement. Ex-Gay? Part III: Who Does God Hate? Spiral Staircase. Violence. Storm. The Escape Artist. Daughter. The Same Lips. Pharisee. The Loss. Adding to the Hurt. Bareback (Gay Men/HIV/Unsafe Sex). Success. Spelunker. Out Of the Closet. The John Doe Family. Family Reunion. A Great American Voice. Anne Bradstreet. Cycle. Cross. Hero. Two Rapes. If: A Satire. The Bible and Gays. Tonight’s Wind. Denial. Undetected. Elephant on an Opera Stage. Detour. Editing.
More About the Author and His Works.
Dann Hazel used Reactions to Homophobia 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.
“By killing yourself, intentionally or through unsafe sex, you call yourself worthless and expendable. How can you think of a human being that way? Quit punishing yourself for the bigotry in society. Refuse to help the cause of homophobia. Take care of yourself. Learn to love yourself and protect yourself. See yourself and your partner as worth protecting. Treat safer sex as an act of defiance and gay pride, a statement about your love for yourself, a statement about the value of your life. Treat living each day as a tear in the fabric of bigotry.”
From Not Worth Dying Over, an essay in Holding Me Together. Copyright 1999/2005 Duane Simolke. Paul Harris quotes that passage in the book From Our Own Lips: The Book of GLBT Quotations. Minnie Van PileUp (the pseudonym of a writer who lives in Boston) quotes the same passage in The Quotable Queer: Fabulous Wit and Wisdom from the Gays, the Straight, and Everybody In-Between.
Mountman, a reviewer for StoneWall Society, has created animated versions of two poems from Holding. Visit MS Agent Pages for the software and links. (Note: the poems are earlier versions, and slightly different from how they appear in Holding’s 2nd Edition.)
StoneWall Society used my books The Acorn Stories and Holding Me Together for spoken word readings during its Pride in the Arts Festival (Virginia, 2006).
Excerpts from Amazon.com reader reviews of Holding Me Together’s first edition follow.
“In his exploration of what it is to be gay, Simolke manages to touch on a more fundamental truth: what it is to be human.” –Watchword
“If I had a magic wand, I would put this book in the hands of all our gay or questioning youth.” –author, painter, dancer Copernicus again
“In the long essay, ‘Reactions to Homophobia,’ readers will meet an intelligent and patient narrator who takes virtually every ignorant question and misstatement seemingly ever made about gays and lesbians and, as though speaking to those who ask such questions or make disparaging remarks about homosexuals, refutes the ignorance.” –author Ronald L. Donaghe
(Referring to the poems…) “My personal favorite is the aptly titled ‘Home’, which also provides the book's title. ‘Home’ describes the presence and the touch of a lover as ‘holding me together’. ” –James Whitney
In a review that previously appeared at QMediaReviews.com, critic Shawn Revelle called the revised, second edition of my book Holding Me Together “an inspiring and timely collection of works.” Revelle went on to share details about the book, which he also called “a worthwhile and life-affirming read.”
If you like my writing, please support it by ordering one of my books for yourself or someone else.
Also available, the short eBook Selected Poems includes the gay love poem “Home,” the strange story of “The Gardener,” and the comical “Angels and Razors,” as well as thirty other poems from Holding Me Together.
Entry revised on 02/23/2015.
SciFi/Fantasy/Horror Links (including literature).
Aberrant Dreams. A Magazine of Speculative Fiction.
Allscifi.com: Zany Sci-Fi discussion coupled with very detailed reviews.
Bewildering Stories offers a home and an audience to speculative writing; all genres are welcome in prose, poetry, drama and non-fiction.
Christine Jones. Writer resources and more from a diverse Australian writer whose work includes the fantasy series Mariard.
The Dragon Page Podcasts. Science Fiction and Fantasy taken to the next level.
Fantafiction. Gathering and sharing info about sf/f.
FranJacobs.Com. Website of fantasy writer, Fran Jacobs, author of the Shadow Seer.
Science Fiction and Fantasy World. More than 10,000 pages of SF and Fantasy related content.
SciFan. Books and links for the science fiction fan.
SciFi Dimensions. An online science fiction magazine.
SFBook.com is your Science Fiction book resource on the net.
SFBookcase.com. Latest books—all the latest science fiction and fantasy news.
SFReader.com. Science Fiction Books, Fantasy Books, Horror Books, and Book Reviews.
SFRevu is a monthly fan/webzine focused on Science Fiction and Fantasy, which features reviews of books, films, and other media, Interviews with top authors and notable newcomers, and columns with the latest releases in books, DVDs, and comics and upcoming films.
SF Site. The Home Page for Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Slacker’s Sci-Fi Source. Your source for all things sci-fi on the web!
SpecFicWorld.com. The online resource guide for science fiction, fantasy, and horror fans and writers.
The Steed Zone. Family with two SF authors presents site with excerpts, writer resources, and more!
Storm The Castle Science Fiction and Fantasy: Books, Movies, Posters, and much more!
Unique Posters and Wallpaper images
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White Unicorn Books. Online only bookstore, including extensive sf collection, plus author links.
Withywindle Books. A virtual bookstore specializing in fantasy, science fiction, and horror used and rare books.
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AllBookReviews.Com. Chosen one of 101 Best Websites for Writers two years in a row by Writer's Digest Magazine.
AllReaders.com. Hundreds of plot, theme, character, and setting options to find precisely what you're looking for!
Authonomy. A Harper-Collins site for readers and writers.
AuthorsDen. Where authors and readers come together!
The Beckham Publications Group. Unique book publishing company offers joint venture self publishing project to promote the works of young and budding writers.
Blogcritics.org. A sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, and technology - updated continuously.
BookCrossing is a book exchange of infinite proportion, the first and only of its kind.
BookHitch.Com. A search engine for books.
Book Promotion Newsletter. A free bi-weekly ezine for authors of all genres.
firstwriter.com has everything a writer needs - all in one site!
Goodreads. It’s what your friends are reading.
How To Publish A Book Blog. The ZDocs blog, with information and resources for the self-publishing author.
Internet Book Database. The Administrators welcome you to a place where you can discuss all your favourite books, their characters and the worlds they live in.
Internet Book List. An independent database of book information for all people, whether they are the occasional reader or a librarian.
Jude Liebermann - online romance novels. Features Jude Liebermann's action/adventure sci/fi romance novels, ebooks & free short stories; visit to read her free online ebook.
JoanHallHovey.Com. Award-Winning author of Nowhere To Hide; read Joan Hall Hovey's "Note to Aspiring Writers."
Library Thing. Enter what you're reading or your whole library—it's an easy, library-quality catalog; LibraryThing also connects you with people who read the same things.
MyShelf.Com is a book-related web site aimed at readers and writers; it includes contests, reviews, columns, holiday reading lists, and Deaf Characters lists.
Native American Storytellers. Original short stories and poems shared by the members of the Yahoo Club/Group, Native American Storytellers.
New Canadian Novels. Author Charles W. Shirriff presents links and reviews, as well as information about his novels.
Publish My Works. Blogs, groups, and video areas for creative types.
Razor Pages. Giving Voice to Independent Authors.
Shawna R. Van Arum. Fiction, poetry, writer resources, and more from published writer!
Shelfari. Using Shelfari, you can create a personal shelf of your books, see what your friends are reading, get and give recommendations for what to read next, create book lists, and even share your opinion on a book with friends or the growing Shelfari community.
PenUltimate provides fast, top-calibre manuscript editing, proofreading, manuscript consultation and other editing services to authors throughout the English-speaking world. With my guidance and expertise, you'll have the smoothest editing experience possible. Together, we'll make your words sparkle!
StoryMania.com. Publish with us or browse through our collection as you please for free.
Substance Books. Serving writers and independent publishers.
WeBook. Writing loves company: creative writing prompts, ideas, topics, activities.
WriteSight.com. Be Seen...Be Discovered at the Ultimate site for writing exposure.
Zero Point – Power of the gods is a modern adventure story that begins when two college professors are asked to examine an ancient archaeological discovery.
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Gay/Lesbian/Bi Links (including literature).
Amarillo Pink Link. The gayest address in the Texas panhandle.
Becki Jayne Harrelson. Fine Art Exploring Religious Mythology & Contemporary Social Issues.
Dann Hazel. Gay author and traveler.
DefineNormal. Gay clothing.
doorQ.com. Networking, blogs, videos, and more, for gay fans of scifi, fantasy, and horror.
Echo Magazine. Serving the LGBT community of Arizona.
Eureka Pride. Who would have thought that the little city in the hills of Northwest Arkansas would be the pride of diversity?
First Partnership Page. The Pioneers Of Gay Marriage.
Gay-Villager Community Listings. Connecting the community with free gay-friendly advertising.
Gay & Lesbian Reading Group. Scifi/fantasy and general.
GBookEbook—Gay eBooks. Our website is designed to help gay writers (Gbook) convert their writing into eBook format, and then assist them in marketing their work.
Gay South Africa. South African by birth, gay by nature, proud by choice.
Green Mountain Jaimie. Truth is seldom humble; it is bold, fierce, often unappetizing--and makes itself known.
Guardian Pictures. Featuring information about the films of acclaimed gay director Jeff London.
Independent Gay Forum. Dissatisfied with the current level of discussion of gay-related issues.
Janice Chandler’s Home Page. Science Fiction/Fantasy, Erotica, and more.
John Younger. Classics, LGB, Etc.
Mark Kendrick. Author of Desert Sons, Into This World We’re Thrown, and Stealing Some Time.
Mountman.Com. Book reviews, graphics, gay resources, etc.
PFLAG Texas State Council. Texas news, resources, and more from Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Rainbow Reviews. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender book reviews.
QueerTheory.com. A gayer look at literature.
RainbowSauce. International One-Stop Resource for LGBT Media.
Ronald L. Donaghe: Best-Selling Gay Novelist. Includes Independent Gay Newsletter E-Zine.
StoneWall Society. Promoting LGBT arts and causes.
This Week in Texas. Keeping gay Texans informed.
W. Brian Moore. Columnist/activist shares about HIV, cancer, family, travel, and other topics.
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Friday, June 12, 2009
Revised eBook, published 2018 on Kindle.
Sometimes, going home is the most dangerous adventure of all!
The Return of Innocence blends humor and romance with exciting fantasy action. Visit Theln, a planet of magic, dragons, nobility, and heroes. Sasha Varov was born into a noble home in the Thelni kingdom of Jaan, but Sasha’s father dared to oppose the king’s sorcerer, Wuhrlock. Sasha and her family became exiles on a desolate island.
At sixteen, Sasha left her island home to buy seeds in Jaan. She stumbled into a series of misadventures that ended with the death of Wuhrlock and made Sasha a legend, known as “Innocence.” Never mind that the legend barely resembled the truth, or that Sasha caught Wuhrlock in an unguarded moment. When Sasha returned for more seeds, the people of Jaan expected her to defeat a much more ruthless and powerful sorcerer.
I wrote the short story “The Return of Innocence” in 1983. With contributions by Toni Davis, I later developed it into a novel. As with all of my books, it includes gays and people of color.
Disclaimer: Admittedly, some of the readers who like my other works have no comment about this one, and one critic really tore apart the first edition. Still, I wanted to create a light-hearted and fun novel, and I enjoyed the adventure. Some reactions follow.
“This was a really fun fantasy book. I loved the world Simolke created, because it has the traditional ‘medieval’ sort of feel what with how it took place in villages where people bartered and traded, but it had many modern elements that I appreciated.” –Shawn C. Sproatt, author of The Misfit of Supernatural High (Supernatural High Series)
“As an avid Simolke reader, one way I judge a book is that I want to know more about the characters that are introduced to me. ‘The Return of Innocence’ is one of those books. (Duane, take the hint.)” –Joe Wright, for StoneWall Society
“In 'The Return of Innocence', Duane Simolke once again proves his writing mastery.” –Mark Kendrick, author of Stealing Some Time
“Not your typical swashbuckler.” –Bob Medak, for Allbooks Reviews
“An engrossingly successful story-teller.” –William Maltese, author of Beyond Machu
Author and critic Glen Dromgoole’s Texas authors column: The Abilene Reporter News * The Bryan-College Station Eagle * The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
- Pressbox.Co.UK: Allbooks Review Editor's Choice Award winners announced
- FreePressRelease: Allbooks Review announces winners of Editor's Choice and Reviewer's Choice Awards for 2007
- 24-7pressrelease: Allbooks Review announces Editor's Choice and Reviewer's Choice Award
- American Chronicle: Allbooks announce winners of Editor's and Reviewer's Choice Award
- This Week In Texas: Gay author wins another award for his work
- Belmont University: '89 Alum Wins Book Award
- American Chronicle: ALLBOOKS REVIEWS EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD FOR 2007 announces the finalists
- The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: 12/8/06: Simolke's fantasy novel up for award
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The following excerpts are from stories appearing in The Acorn Stories, copyright 1998, 2003. Read reviews of the book at Kirkus, Amazon.Com, bn.com (2nd edition reviews), and bn.com (1st edition).
From the story “Paying the Rent.”
I couldn’t help but notice how fat Lisa had become. She looked like one of those women who see themselves as big-boned, full-figured, girthful, well-rounded, plump—the kind who get blind dates as someone with “a nice personality.” She barely resembled her former self. Sure, she had always carried a wide load in the back, and her face retained baby fat all the way through twelfth grade, but I expected more—or rather, less—when, after a seven-year disappearance, she called to say “Guess who?” I still loved her bright blue eyes and bouncy blonde curls, but the rest of her looked like something created in a misshapen Jell-O mold.
From the story “Timothy Fast.”
“Very well,” said Memphis Lee. “But first, I have a gift for you.” He reached behind his back and retrieved something furry.
“A stuffed tarantula!” Ruth Feinstein grabbed the oversized toy from him and cradled it against her neck. “You’re so sweet. I’m sorry I called your place a dump and everything.”
Rubbing his temples, Timothy Fast said, “About those ties. . .”
“Look by the cash register,” said Memphis Lee. “We have the new graphics line. Senator Briggs was complaining about their violent imagery leading to street gangs and the disintegration of the American family, but the company made a contribution to his party, and now he calls them ‘the family values ties.’ I just love politics!”
From the story “Mae.”
As the afternoon train rushed by the graveyard, shaking the ground, an oak tree dropped an acorn near Cleburne’s grave. Mae wondered why nature made itself that way of acorn and oak remaking and dying and becoming something big to make something small to become something big, that way of making, that way of becoming, that way of everything becoming itself only to look for something else, and everyone else looking for everyone else looking to become, becoming in the process of looking.
Mae thought these things at her husband’s grave because she thought she and Cleburne would continue always in their becoming and remaking until the dying happened, but that somehow the dying would happen to both of them together, just as everything else happened to them both together. She always thought the becoming married made them become one, because she thought two people who existed as one for fifty-eight years could not become only one person who existed as one alone for even one minute, because this becoming . . . it could not lead to this point.
From the story “Oak.”
“Mom, there’s some things I’ve always wanted to say, if you would only listen. You have to forgive me, like I’ve forgiven you. I know it was wrong of me to get pregnant by some guy who isn’t worth marrying, but you know it was wrong of you to ask me to sneak off and get an abortion, so no one would find out—all to protect the Briggs family businesses.” Her voice grows louder as she begins to finally say what she feels inside.
“You and Daddy are the ones who closed down the only abortion clinic in Acorn. He’d roll over in his grave if he knew what you planned. Maybe you’ve gotten too caught up in high society. Maybe—” The machine beeps off. Shocked by her own words, Julie starts to call back and apologize, but she sets the phone down when she hears the trailer’s bedroom door slide open.
From the story “Mirrors: A Blackmail Letter.”
“You’re from Acorn, aren’t you?” Not a very good line, I suppose, but we really had seen each other before, made eye contact at the bank, the grocery, and the steak house. When male glances lock for a moment before diverting, eyes become mirrors.
You followed me back to Acorn that night, your headlights constantly reflected in my rearview mirror, the deep cadence of your voice constantly replaying in my mind. Separate cars—what better way to avoid conversation? And when you walked inside, you only talked about me, asked about me. I honestly knew nothing about you, except that you had just moved from Dallas, which you still visited constantly, and that you drove a nice car. Well, I learned about the Christian tattoo you got during a drinking binge, and I learned that you could talk like some kind of phone sex line. You should have mentioned your teenage son and your pregnant wife before that long talk in my kitchen, the long talk that happened after the time in each other’s arms.
From the story “Flip, Turn.”
I pulled myself up enough to see the alarm clock just across my room. 10:15! It had happened again: after dreaming during the night that my alarm clock was buzzing, I had gotten up and turned it off, realized I was dreaming, stayed in bed wondering whether I had also dreamed turning it off, then fallen asleep without turning it back on.
“Swimming,” I mumbled into my pillow. I was supposed to have met Jimmy Jacobs at Acorn College’s indoor pool around ten. Since I hadn’t gone swimming in weeks, I had no idea where my alumni I.D. was. I searched my disintegrating wallet, pulling out shreds of napkins, envelopes, and newspaper with scribbled numbers. Some of the numbers looked like combinations for P.O. boxes or lockers, while others looked like phone numbers, but none of them had words on them. My wallet housed numbers detached from their purpose. I thought I should keep them in case I needed them one day. But how would I know if I needed them, or which ones to use? Then I found a phone number with a familiar handwriting.
I could have called all the phone numbers to see if I recognized the voices of the people who answered. Then I could just hang up. Maybe that’s what people are doing—the people who call me then hang up. Maybe they sorted through old wallets and purses, found my number on a scrap of paper. After finding my I.D. in the dark recesses of my wallet, I stuffed all the numbers back in to recreate whatever equation they had formed, knowing I would probably not see them again until my wallet fell apart.
After pulling on swim trunks, T-shirt, and tennis shoes, I walked outside into Mom and Dad’s yard sale and suddenly remembered that I really need to get my own place.
Jimmy Jacobs wasn’t even at the pool when I got there. I decided not to mention it to my mother—never mind that I’m twenty-eight—because she would just say, “I’ve told you about that Jacobs boy.” From junior high ‘till well past high school graduation, no teenagers within a forty-mile radius of Acorn could get drunk, stoned, beat up, arrested, or pregnant without their parents asking, “You’ve been hanging around with that Jacobs boy, haven’t you?” By the time I graduated from college—a lot of good that did me, the new assistant manager at Ice Cream Dream—he was a husband, a father, and the pastor of Zionosphere Baptist Church.
From the story “Acorn Pie.”
People tell me a little more than they should. Well, a lot more than they should. Actually, people tell me way too much. Or they say too many things where I can hear them, which is just the same as telling me, as far as I’m concerned. Do they really think I won’t share what I heard with anybody? I mean, stories like these can’t just sit on a shelf in somebody’s brain. The more I think about it, the more sure I am that my neighbors want someone to tell their Acorn stories, that they don’t want to be just a small part of a small town in a big state in a big country. People aspire to leave something behind other than babies, a mortgage, and a nasty rumor or two. And they certainly want someone reliable telling it, like what my grandmother did when she chronicled the early folks of Acorn.
On 12/29/2019, I removed some links from here that no longer worked, but left up the text to acknowledge my sources. In some cases, I found and added updated links.
The Advocate; 6922 Hollywood Blvd; Los Angeles, CA 90028.
American Psychological Association. Answers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality.
Amnesty International. Breaking The Silence: Human Rights Violations Based On Sexual Orientation. Amnesty International Publications.
Besen, Wayne R. Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press, 2003.
Blumenfeld, Warren J. (editor). Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992.
Broderick, Greg R. "Dr. Paul Cameron and the Family Research Institute." The Radical Religious Right Pages.
Campaign to End Homophobia.
Children Of Lesbians And Gays Everywhere (Colage).
Christians Against Bible Abuse.
Day, David. Things They Never Told You In Sunday School: A Primer For The Christian Homosexual. S. Norwalk, CT: Lavender, 1987.
Delta Lambda Phi National Social Fraternity.
Fahy, Una. How To Make The World A Better Place For Gays And Lesbians. New York: Warner, 1995.
Fone, Byrne. Homophobia: A History. New York: Picador, 2000.
Gomes, Peter J. The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart. New York: Morrow, 1996.
Helminiak, Daniel A. What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. New Mexico: Alamo Square, 2000.
Holy Bible. Prefer the King James Version, New International Version, or Revised Standard Version, as the others are less reliable.
Homosexuals: Victims of the Nazi Era.
Interfaith Working Group.
Instinct; 15335 Morrison St., Ste. 325; Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.
Janoff, Douglas Victor. Pink Blood: Homophobic Violence in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005. http://www.pinkblood.ca/.
Jim Bilbrey's Care Page.
Kader, Rev. Samuel. Openly Gay Openly Christian: How the Bible Really is Gay Friendly. San Francisco: Leyland, 1999.
Koskovich, Gerard. The Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals: An Annotated Bibliography of Nonfiction Sources in English.
Lambda 10 Project for GLB Greeks.
Lautmann, Ruediger. Gay Prisoners in Concentration Camps as Compared with Jehovah's Witnesses and Political Prisoners.
Log Cabin Republicans
Maran, Meredith, with Angela Watrous (editors). 50 Ways to Support Lesbian and Gay Equality: The Complete Guide to Supporting Family, Friends, Neighbors. Maui: Inner Ocean Publishing, 2005.
Marcus, Eric. Is It A Choice? Answers To 300 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Lesbians and Gays. San Francisco: Harper, 1993.
Metropolitan Community Churches
Mohr, Richard. The Long Arc of Justice: Lesbian and Gay Marriage, Equality, and Rights. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.
The National Museum & Archive of Lesbian And Gay History. The Gay Almanac. New York: Berkley, 1996.
“New Study Links Homophobia with Homosexual Arousal.” Excerpted from “Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal?” by Henry E. Adams, Ph.D., Lester W. Wright, Jr., Ph.D. and Bethany A. Lohr, University of Georgia, in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 105, No. 3, pp 440-445.
Out; 110 Green Street; Suite 600; New York, NY 10012.
Penman, Alexander. Beyond Religion
Reconciling Congregations Program.
Religious Tolerance. "Religious Groups' Policies Towards Homosexuals And Homosexuality."
Rutledge, Leigh W. The New Gay Book of Lists Marriage, Equality, and Rights. Los Angeles: Alyson, 1996.
Scroggs, Robin. The New Testament and Homosexuality. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983.
Sears, James T. Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South. New Brunswick/New Jersey/London: Rutgers University Press, 2001.
Sexual Orientation: Science, Education, and Policy.
Shilts, Randy. Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the Military. New York: St. Martin’s, 1993.
Spong, John Shelby. Living In Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality. San Francisco: Harper, 1988.
Steakley, James. “Homosexuals and the Third Reich.” Reprinted from The Body Politic, Issue 11, January/February 1974.
Straight Spouse Network.
Sullivan, Andrew. Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples.
I also used the site Ex-ex-gays as a resource for Reactions to Homophobia; that site is no longer available, but please see these related pages:
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
By Duane Simolke
When I lie beside him,
His knee presses
Against the underside
Of my knee,
His hand presses
Against my chest,
As if holding me together.
If I wake,
And he isn't beside me,
I'll curl up
Like a frightened child,
Lost in the dark,
Afraid to move.
If I wake,
And he isn't beside me,
The thickest blanket
Won't keep me warm.
But I wake,
And find him
He holds me together.
From my books Holding Me Together and Selected Poems.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
I designed this entry as a sort of index for the following books, which I co-authored or authored: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio, and The Return of Innocence. Please note that many of the terms overlap or use different forms of the same word, for search engine purposes. In some cases, just one among a list of terms will apply to a particular book. Some of these elements play a small role in the particular book(s), while others play a major one.
Acorns, oak trees, acorn to oak: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories
Acorn, Texas; Lubbock, Texas; West Texas: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories
African American, black people: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, The Return of Innocence
AIDS, HIV, safe sex, safer sex, unsafe sex: Holding Me Together
Alternate realities, other dimensions, other worlds: Degranon, The Return of Innocence
Arabic, Middle Eastern: The Return of Innocence
Asian, Far Eastern: Degranon, The Return of Innocence
Beasts, monsters: Degranon, The Return of Innocence
Canada: Holding Me Together
Cancer, cancer survivors, cancer fundraiser, fund-raiser: The Acorn Gathering
Civil rights, equal rights, equality: Degranon, Holding Me Together
Censorship, censors, suppression of knowledge, book burning, Fahrenheit 451: The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together
Coming of age, reaching adulthood, young adult, teen, teenager, youth: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio, The Return of Innocence
Constitutional amendment, adding discrimination into the constitution: Degranon, Holding Me Together
Deaf, deafness, hearing disabled, hearing-impaired: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Holding Me Together
Disability (other than deafness) &/or disabling illness: Degranon, Holding Me Together
Death, grieving, loss: The Acorn Stories, Degranon
Domestic violence, abusive relationship, spousal abuse: The Acorn Stories, Holding Me Together
Drug abuse, drug addiction, mind-altering or mind-controlling drugs: Degranon, Holding Me Together
Elderly, old folks, aging, age, twilight years: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio, The Return of Innocence
Essays & other non-fiction: Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Evil rulers, poor leadership, corruption in high places: The Acorn Stories, Degranon, The Return of Innocence
Ex-gay, exgay, cures for homosexuality: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Holding Me Together
Family, relatives, family bonds, family ties, family values, parents, parenting, siblings: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio, The Return of Innocence
Fantasy, sword & sorcery, magic, magical, spells, incantations, transmutation, transformation: The Return of Innocence
Gay Christians, homosexuality & religion, gay people of faith, gay vs. religious: The Acorn Stories, Holding Me Together
Gay coming out, gay denial, the closet, closet cases: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Gay gene, genetic basis of homosexuality, biology of sexual orientation, born gay, choice or birth: Degranon, Holding Me Together
Gay marriage, same-sex marriage, same-gender marriage: Degranon, Holding Me Together, The Return of Innocence
Gay pride, gay history & culture: The Acorn Stories, Holding Me Together
Gay relationships: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio, The Return of Innocence
Gender, gender roles, gender stereotypes, gender-bending, gender-blurring: The Acorn Stories, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio, The Return of Innocence
God, Lord, faith, scripture, religion, belief, believers, higher power: The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together
Hate crimes, hate-motivated violence: Holding Me Together
History, historical, related to changing times: Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Homophobia, homophobic, gay-bashing, gay-baiting, anti-gay, heterocentrism: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Humor, humorous, comedy, satire, satirical, light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Holding Me Together, The Return of Innocence
Industrialism, mechanization, technology, the machine in the garden, science changing the landscape: Degranon, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Jewish, Jew, Judaica: The Acorn Stories
Literary criticism & theory, literary classics, American literature, author biography: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Lonely, loneliness, alone, isolation, isolated, abandoned: The Acorn Stories, Degranon, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Mexican American, Latino, Latina, Hispanic: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon
Native American, American Indian, reservations: The Acorn Gathering, Degranon
New York City after 9/11: The Acorn Gathering
Poems, poetry: Holding Me Together
Politics, political: The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together
Privacy loss, invasion of privacy, government intrusion, government surveillance, 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale: Degranon
Race, racial, racism, racist, race relations, interracial: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, The Return of Innocence
Religious fanatics, fanaticism, religious extremists, religious violence, holy war, crusades: Degranon, Holding Me Together
Romance, dating, romantic, love, falling in love, long-term relationships: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio, The Return of Innocence
Science fiction, scifi, sci-fi, robots, futuristic, space colonies, time travel, doorways in space & time: Degranon
Self-help, self-improvement, standing up for yourself: Holding Me Together
Sexuality, fear of sex, driven by or oppressing sexual impulses: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Three Lives, Tender Buttons, Alice B. Tolklas, Walt Whitman, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Short fiction, short stories, story cycle, interrelated tales, discussion of stories: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Small towns, rural life: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Social commentary: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Teachers, teaching profession, academics: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio, The Return of Innocence
Weight control, weight loss, weight discrimination, fat, obese, overweight, dieting, diets: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon
West Texas football, emphasis on sports: The Acorn Stories
Winesburg, Ohio; Clyde, Ohio: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio
Women, strong women, womyn, female empowerment, feminism, feminist, girl power: The Acorn Gathering, The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio, The Return of Innocence