Friday, May 31, 2013

An ending . . . and a beginning

As much as it pains me to do it, it is time for me to bid a fond adieu to Bending the Bookshelf. I've struggled with the decision over the past few months but, without getting into too much detail, my life has changed significantly over the past two years, and I simply don't have the time to manage things anymore.

A huge thanks goes out to Samuel, Candace, and Cari for helping to keep things alive with their reviews. You made the decision to step away a difficult one, but I know in my heart that it's the right one. It's been a good year together, on top of some great years before that, but I just can't do things half-assed. Rather than let the blog continue towards a quiet, lingering sort of demise, I would rather announce an end and provide a little closure for the readers who've stuck by us over the years.

Of course, while I may not have time to manage Bending the Bookshelf anymore, I'm never going to stop reading, and I know there will be books I feel the need to review. Transgender-themed books will continue to have a home in my bimonthly Frock Books column, as well as on Goodreads. In addition, I am going to be joining an old friend as a contributing reviewer on his blog, returning to my roots in exploring LGBTQIA themes in science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Thanks to everyone for being so friendly and supportive over the years.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Case of Nikki Pagan by Rachel Eliason (REVIEW)

The Case of Nikki Pagan is a touching and powerful novel about a trio of unlikely friends. Rachel Eliason groups together three young people, whose struggles in the face of extremely unfortunate circumstances allow their individual greatness and heroism to shine through. This occurs through the support and love they generate for each other in the face of their devastating and life-changing issues.

It is about one young man's willingness to accept and embrace the emotional suffering of a gender variant friend, in the context of the illness and courage of a second new friend.  More than this, it is a complex coming-of-age tale about a young man, whose hopes to become a college football star are dashed through the result of his own stupidity.  However, this young person finds that for all that he loses, he gains so much more. His personal growth, fostered by a heightened sensitivity brought about by his own plight and growing mindfulness, lead to an ever increasing empathy for the pain and suffering of others. This is a story about this young man's willingness to move past his own personal prejudices to the acceptance of the gender issues of a new friend and his touching and growing sensitivity to the terminal illness of another.

It is a novel that is not for the faint of heart as the author recreates the realism of the emergency room and the "code blues" that summon forth the hospital faithful in the attempt to stave off impending death. While it extolls the virtues and professionalism of many in the medical and nursing profession, it eviscerates the ineptitude and paternalism of those who have placed themselves as gatekeepers to the transgender and intersex community. It is an inspirational journey to behold and a very worthwhile read from beginning to end.

[Reviewed by Samuel]

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Finally Giving It a Shot – Leigh Campbell on Blood and Lipstick (GUEST POST)

Vampire Lesrotica. That's how I've been describing my short story, "Bloody Flowers", being published in the Blood and Lipstick anthology from Storm Moon Press. I've always found the idea of lesbian vampires incredibly fascinating and loved taking the trip down the rabbit hole with my characters. I love all the different things you can incorporate in a story with vampires. History, sensuality, sex. Unending romance. Darkness. These ladies can do it all and have probably done it all with incredibly fascinating people. (I have a personal theory that the eldest vampire in my story has probably romanced quite a few royals in her day, simply because she could—she had quite a fondness for Marie Antoinette.) They carry themselves with confidence because they are confident.

Their confidence comes from knowing that in the end, they'll always end up with what they want. When a vampire character walks into the room, other characters can feel a magnetism. I really don't care what genre you're reading; it usually just works that way. They're predators at their very core, so, it really comes as no surprise that this would occur. Pretty plumage and an alluring nature gets them their prey. It's the way Mother Nature intended.

Yes, yes, you know all that. Now, you want me to talk about the lesbianism and what pulled me towards that, right? Well, I'll tell you. Quite frankly, it's because I find it incredibly hot. There. I've said it. I have a thing for lesbian vampires. I have a thing for vampires seducing other women to get what they want. And I'm totally all right with that.

It's something that is not new to me—I've found that I've liked subtle hints of it in my "bestsellers" reading, and have imagined it going quite a bit further. One of my favorite series has a bisexual female vampire as a major secondary character, and I've always (not so secretly, as the author is very much in touch with her fans and I've spoken to her—come talk to me about my writing! I'd love that!) wished that the main character who spends three quarters of the series dancing around her feelings would just... give it a shot. This has always been such a build up and let down for me, like getting close to fulfillment and then remembering you really need to do laundry and go to the grocery store and you should really make a list instead of what you're currently doing.

That right there is my main inspiration for writing this story. Giving it a shot and wanting to not go grocery shopping or make a list of any kind. It's my first paid submission to any publisher (a fact that I'm extremely proud and pleased with), and I really just felt a call. I felt, for me, it was the "right story to write". Storm Moon Press gave me an opportunity to explore via writing something I've always really been interested in reading, and for that I'm incredibly grateful. "Bloody Flowers" gave me a place to start from, gave me an opportunity to explore darker themes than I usually tool around with. I normally don't write from the perspective of "the monsters", but this was a lot of fun. Really sinking my teeth (har har, I should write comedy) in a sub-genre that I enjoy has given me quite a bit of confidence and has taught me a lot.

The whole "first accepted submission to a publisher" thing has taught me a lot as well. I've never fully grasped all that goes into it (and I still don't from a publishing side of things, but I'm ever so curious how it works at HQ), and now I have a much firmer idea. Storm Moon has a lot going on and seems to be taking on more projects every day, so, it's a most excellent adventure that I'm enjoying being a small part of. (And if you're not reading that in a Bill and/or Ted voice, then you're not old enough to read the anthology in most places.) So, I have to thank them for giving me the opportunity (I feel like I should have an Oscar and be tripping up stairs), and the other big thank you I feel like I want to take this chance to give is to my best friend and perpetual cheerleader, Meri, without whom one of the characters still wouldn't have a name.

Blood and Lipstick -- Now Available from Storm Moon Press for just $6.99 (ebook). Get your copy today!