Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saints & Sinners Literary Festival online March 11-14; including my panel and reading

 

Literature online is now nothing new, but with an entire literary festival, from readings to panels, all online, the 18th annual Saints & Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival, usually held in New Orleans, returns with a robust roster on March 11-14, and most events are free to the public. I’ll be participating with a panel on Memoir & Fiction, and as part of the reading line-up.

The virtual SASFest will include literary discussions, writing workshops, readings, and special events, all via Zoom or YouTube. While the convivial gatherings at previous SASfests at New Orleans restaurants and bars will be missed, the online version packs the talent with literary legends and acclaimed new writers. Literary panels and discussion topics include a wide array of genres: mystery, romance, young adult, poetry, memoir vs. fiction, and short fiction.

Since 2003, Saints + Sinners Literary Festival brings together the who’s who of the LGBTQ literary world. The Festival features panel discussions and writing workshops by authors, editors, and publishers for emerging writers and LGBTQ literature fans. 

Among the highlights are a discussion with the Literary Luminaries of the Violet Quill —Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, and Edmund White­–  and a discussion of Jewish Lesbian Literature and Activism with Elana Dykewomon, Judith Katz, Irena Klepfisz, and Michele Karlsberg

The Reading Series includes new voices and literary icons sharing their work including Meredith Doench, Cheryl Head, Michael Lowenthal, Daniel W.K. Lee, David S. Pederson, JD Scott, Tammy Lynne Stoner, and Sassafras Lowrey.

Also reading: the winners from the festival’s first annual poetry contest —Danielle Bero, Ezra Adamo, and Steven Riel and three contributors to the festival’s 12th annual short fiction contest: Colby Byrne, Lisa Hines, and Laura Price Steele. 

(from upper left) Farzana Doctor, Colby Byrne, Dorothy Allison, Bryan Washington (from lower left) Phil Gambone, Regie Cabico and Judy Grahn are just seven of the many authors participating in SASfest 2021.

A new addition to the Festival lineup is a Conversation Series featuring authors interviewing authors. Bryan Washington will discuss his acclaimed first novel Memorial, a New York Times Noteable Book of 2020, with author Matthew Griffin. 

Scholar & Poet Julie R. Enszer will host a talk with literary icon Judy Grahn regarding her new book, Eruptions of Inanna: Justice, Gender and Erotic Power.


Founder of the Son of Baldwin media community, Robert Jones, Jr. discusses his groundbreaking new novel The Prophets, recently featured in the New York Times, with The Reading Life’s Susan Larson.

 

Journalist Merryn Johns will discuss sex and censorship and the modern gay rights movement with author and political activist Naomi Wolf; and Jenn Shapland and Carlos Dews discuss their passion for the work of Carson McCullers.

 

Special Events

SASfest this year will be more than books. Bay Area favorite Fauxnique (Monique Jenkinson) will perform excerpts from her provocative cabaret works and will read passages from her forthcoming drag memoir Faux Queen.

The New Orleans-based band The Slick Skillet Serenaders play a set of their 1920s and ‘30s-era Ragtime, Blues, and Jazz music stylings.

Jewelle Gomez

Members and donors to the festival can also view a partial screening and discussion of the Project Legacies documentary, In Her Words: 20th Century Lesbian Fiction. 

SASFest also offers established and emerging LGBTQ authors, as well as students and readers, an opportunity to network via Padlet, a free community building app, and nurture their craft with a diverse array of artistic and educational offerings.

 

The Writing Workshop Series will feature Dorothy Allison, Michael Nava, Matthew Clark Davison, and Radclyffe. Acclaimed writer Jewelle Gomez will lead a poetry workshop, and also included is an instructional workshop from Kindle Direct Publishing to familiarize authors with their services and self-publishing options. Workshops will have a fee.

 

Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop is the official bookstore of Saints and Sinners. Buy authors’ books from the shop via BookShop and the store will donate a portion of sales back to the Festival. All events are free this year with the exception of the Writing Workshops. Tickets on sale at

www.sasfest.org. (Reprinted from my article in the Bay Area Reporter.)

Monday, January 25, 2021

Cabin Fervor: a new short story about hunky Broadway dancers who escape to the woods

Wild animals in cities, Broadway dancers, OnlyFans and the pandemic might seem like unlikely story ideas, together at least. But these four topics blended together in an inspired writing spell, so I cranked out a fun tale called "Cabin Fervor."

Here's the story line: 

Ernie and Jase, two unemployed Broadway dancer boyfriends, escape pandemic-ridden Manhattan for a friend’s upstate cabin. After a few months of interactions with wild animals and eccentric townsfolk, they impulsively decide to make a series of sexy videos with musical theater themes that become a surprise hit online. Combining humor, current events, and erotic exhibitionism, "Cabin Fervor" captures a strange moment in time with wry wit and affection. 

While there are some serious issues taking place now, some are able to see a hint of, yes, humor in it. The very cute cover art is by illustrator and author David Cantero.

First; the COVID-19 pandemic is not funny. The heinous mismanagement of the pandemic by the inept and corrupt previous administration is obvious. Yet somehow, people have been able to find hope and a bit of dark humor to get through it. And as in the story, I do have some old New York City pals who've decided to temporarily leave the city. Reuters reports that it's effected NYC's economy to more than a billion dollars in losses.

Second; wild animals roaming through cities. Long before the pandemic, I longed to write a story about what I wrongly termed "bioconvergence." 

This PopSci article explores the phenomenon. Animal wildlife's habitats have long been decimated by human populations. What happens when they in turn, invade, or –more accurately– reclaim human spaces? Treehugger explores the days when animals roamed urban streets while humans huddled indoors. 


"Animals are not dramatically rebounding in the absence of humans, but they are timidly pushing their boundaries, with sika deer showing up outside their normal habitat in the park in Nara, Japan, wild turkeys showing up in a park in Oakland, California, and orcas venturing farther up Vancouver's Burrell Inlet than they typically do."

So when a common occurrence we've seen in countless YouTube videos temporarily becomes a 12 Monkeys norm, we take notice. When a fiction idea becomes a greater reality, it's time to get writing.

Alessio Vega & Taylor Collins


Striportunities

But wait (third and fourth); what about Broadway dancers and OnlyFans? Let's just say that I may follow a few hunky Broadway male dancer-actor-singers on social media. Being trained exhibitionists, they're performed a few times in Broadway Bares fundraisers. But under lockdown, they miss work, of course, but also their inner exhibitionism's quite inhibited!

Let's also assume that I may have visited a few gay adult websites that revealed a few racy photos and videos of a few male performers who, facing a complete shutdown of their performing opportunities, chose to 'pivot' into personalized adult entertainment (NSFW!).  Some celebs are using it in less adult ways, too.

"I'm somebody who stresses about a lot of things," says David Pevsner in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter

The actor who has appeared on Silicon Valley and Modern Family. Thanks in large part to OnlyFans, where he's been posting X-rated content for his subscribers since 2018, he says, "Right now money is not stressing me out." 

 

 

Put them all together, and you've got an oddly funny, sometimes sad, very sexy, and very contemporary tale.

Enjoy "Cabin Fervor." You can get it on (the evil, but whaddaya gonna do?) Amazon.

Wear your mask, make your own entertainment, as I did, and stay safe.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Finding Tulsa: two more reviews. 'E meglio tarde que mai.'


Considering the current state of things, I should be amazed anyone's buying or reviewing my books. But three months after being published, two more reviews of my seventh novel Finding Tulsa popped up. To translate the Italian phrase in this post's title, "Better late than never."

“It’s not easy writing a novel in the first person and relying on the sole perspective of your narrator, but Jim Provenzano pulls it off beautifully in Finding Tulsa. He brings us the remarkable voice and life experience of Stan Grozniak, a struggling Hollywood director and a nuanced gay man in a town where so many live on the surface of things...Finding Tulsa is both a unique and satisfying read that gives much perspective on the AIDS pandemic and living through it as a modern gay man.”

     – Art & Understanding

Also this:

Written as an autobiography, this entertaining work of fiction tells the story of Stan, a gay film director making a film about his past. Cast in the movie is Lance, a boyhood crush who Stan reconnects with in Hollywood. Finding Tulsa is an intense story, yet it’s an easy read due to the author’s vivid writing.  Echo Magazine

​And here are the other two published reviews.

Finding Tulsa is more than just the pseudo-memoir of a Hollywood hotshot and his sexual escapades (however exciting they are to read about — and in lurid, delicious detail), but also an unexpected, endearing love story. ... Whether its a small town production of Gypsy or a porno movie set in the desert, Stan's limitless passion for creativity and the artistic process remains intact, and guides him throughout.Edge Media Network

Finding Tulsa is a smashing exploration of what it would be like to be a gay film director of some renown living his best life. Mostly, I loved how recognizably messy Stan is, yet still makes his life work—which, for Stan, includes finding love with his unrequited high school crush and making a living through film; an excellent read for anyone who is interested in complex, first-person narratives.  – Joyfully Jay

Scant few for what should have been noticed by the many publications that were sent review copies.

Anyway, enjoy the fun trailer below, and listen & watch my Finding Tulsa playlist, as well as recent online readings and author chats, and my other books' related music playlists on my YouTube channel.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Epiphanies and Epigrams; when you're too distracted to promote your own book, don't be surprised if no one buys it.


I understand, dear reader, fan or accidental visitor to my blog who was actually looking for celebrity nude photos; you haven't had time to read my seventh novel, Finding Tulsa, because it's been such a crazy time, and by 'crazy' I don't mean to disparage those struggling with mental health issues by reducing it to a Kathy comic ("Bleah!"), but actually, seriously insane times, what with a hundred-plus seditious GOP politicians still madly clinging to the baloney conspiracy of election fraud as they prop up their completely deranged outgoing president (and plan a heinous 'revolt' on Jan. 6, Epiphany Day, if you're Catholic), to the screeching store-invading anti-mask MAGAts threatening the lives of cashiers and barristas, to the billionaires hoarding their profits during a global plague as millions of vaccines lay dormant in freezers and COVID-19 victims' corpses lay stacked in bags inside refrigerator trucks.

So, yeah; buy my books, right? 

Or listen to my audiobooks; kind of a tough sell right now (I've actually tried to give away free copies, to little interest), which makes no sense to me, because you don't event have to touch a book if you're virus-wary.

But why not self-promote? Other books are being promoted, and have been, right through the pandemic and elections, the holidays ("The holidays; bleah" insert another Kathy comic), but for the most part, I've felt like this is all a case of bad timing; my best, most mature novel, published by a respected small press, has been largely ignored (again), while most media continues to lap up praise for corporate-published books, which I know because, as an arts editor, I know how persistent the well-paid publicists for conglomo publishers can be. 

Sydney Gay Games 2002. photo: Jim Provenzano

But except for said day-job's duties, and jotting down events in a journal (the 202o edition just PDFed, saved and archived), including dreams, like last night's which involved a dream variation of a real event, frolicking in an Olympic pool facility in Sydney, Australia with a dozen gay water polo players -yes, that happened, why don't I write a story about that? Wait, I did, in 2002, but you don't remember), I have not been promoting my book!

Having grown tired to #writerslist threads on Twitter, because having more followers doesn't do anything if they won't read your books, despite thee fact that book sales are very much a popularity contest. Gaining followers on Twitter doesn't amount to a hill of beans if the five of them who followed you on Monday unfollow you on Tuesday, or whenever you post something slightly political (gasp!) or too gay (double-gasp!). And what's with all the Amazon links? You do know they've made 2.6 billion during the pandemic as independent bookstores cling to life? This is why I prefer that you buy from indies via Bookshop.org, and then use the corporate sites to share reviews.

But no, most authors blindly bow to Amazon, which mistreats their workers, and Facebook, which obscures your posts unless you pay to boost them, and yes, I'm on all the 'evil' social media sites even though it all has minimal effect on sales, because, well, you know, 'things are crazy.'

Which they are. I'd love to just go back to bed and dream of frisky water polo players, since I'm writing this early in the morning, but I've already slurped down a cup of leftover coffee, which still has a bit of a zing to it, as you can tell, and I might even bathe before noon and put on clothes, and perhaps even write something else, in spite of it all.

And if you want a few hours of joyful literary distraction, go for it.