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reading tiger

More of the grab bag

I made mini-churros last night. They were supposed to be our cooked-in-oil food for Hanukkah but things happen. They were delicious and it was fun to drop the batter into the hot oil via pastry bag. Confession: I love deep-frying things, as long as I don't have to fuss about numbers and can do it by eye. I just use a wok and a lot of peanut oil.

The kids got to roll the churros in cinnamon sugar and/or plain sugar, and that was fun too.

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You may have seen this story about Sarah Schulman's stint as guest editor for Best Lesbian Erotica ending with her getting the boot because she went to the wall for an edgy story -- one with elements of incest, bestiality *and* sex between teens -- the trifecta! In the meantime, Cleis made some half-assed comments about how it wasn't about content, it was about quality, yadda yadda. Read the article if you want the messy details.

I have some feels.

My feels have to do with my repeated "luck" at having my stories cut at the last minute from Best Gay Erotica *and* Best Lesbian Erotica. It got to be a joke. Cut at the last minute means this: the guest editor, who rotates every year, would accept the story and send me a provisional yes letter. A few weeks or months later I would get another note saying I didn't make the final book. Why not? Because someone at Cleis had nixed it for some reason. This happened so many times I've lost count. I got the hint and I stopped submitting to Cleis at all for years, because I figured it wasn't worth it.

Rachel Kramer Bussel, bless her heart, changed my mind, and I've had a good track record with her anthologies at Cleis. But I've also clipped my wings. I submit to her when I have a small story that fits rather narrow parameters.

Cleis likes happy endings. It likes straightforward narrative. It likes sexy sex that's sexy. It doesn't like transgressive plus sex, probably because it's scared. And rightly so, if you came of age in the 90s and ever tried to get your books (or magazines) into Canada, say. You can point to all sorts of exceptions on their list, but trust me on this one. Cleis publishes erotica, sure, but their tastes are conservative.

Which wouldn't be so bad if they wouldn't re-edit anthologies out from underneath their bylined editors. Which is why, btw, I will appear in their anthologies -- when I'm lucky -- but I won't edit one for them. In case you'd ever wondered.

Yeah. I have feels. One of those feels is "it's rude to bite the hand that feeds" and I have more or less held my tongue publicly for, oh, 15+ years now. (Let's not talk about Felice screaming at me over the phone when I was working at On Our Backs and had the audacity to ask for an author photo while we were still negotiating final terms on an excerpt deal. Good times.) But fuck me, what career do I have to lose at this point? Who's going to discount me as a bitter old has-been hag that I actually give a fuck about, opinion-wise?

Like I said. Feels.

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I stayed home and let [personal profile] imnotandrei drop off the kids at school today. It gives me an extra hour of work. But I miss the moment when the ask me on Mondays what they should write about in their "morning work," which is always "what I did this weekend." Small people's memories are short.

Comments

My one experience with Cleis so far was the FUCKING DAPHNE debacle. Now I know that it's literally their day-to-day method of doing business!
I'm afraid so.
Whoa. The one time I was short-listed for Best Lesbian Erotica, I had the same thing you are describing happen (guest editor loved the piece and accepted it, and then Cleis evidently didn't like it). I hadn't made the "oh, they like happy stories" connection, but, well, it sure makes sense.