On Novel Writing, Sobriety, and Virtual Events

I’m not sure I wrote about this before, but I was selected for the Writers.com 2022 Novel Writing Intensive Program. It started this month! A few days ago we had a meet-and-greet with the students and instructors, and today we had a workshop on publishing and marketing strategy. Bottom line: no one is going to do it for you. The good news is, I already know quite a bit about self-publishing from my projects between 2011-2016. I’m working on building my platform. I want to use the name Dean, but for now, Elliott DeLine is the name I have established, so I will be using that.

Yesterday I went to a thing called “Palm of the Hand Memoir Workshop” with poet Michael Czarneki. I found it very valuable, as it validated for me that my current writing style for my novel in progress is a good one. The idea behind Palm of the Hand writing is basically flash fiction, but for memoir. I don’t know too much about flash fiction, but I would say I am writing it. Flash scenes, at least. And my fiction writing, as in the past, has a lot of memoir elements as well. So I found this style helpful to learn about.

Besides the novel writing intensive, I have some other things going on. I’m taking two workshops this winter with poet Susan Vespoli, also through Writers.com. I love Susan’s writing circles and have signed up for them consecutively since I discovered them. The first one is “Writing Poems for Gratitude and Hope” and the other I forget the name of, but we study 8 poets styles and incorporate it into our own work. I’m planning on including some poetry in my novel, and I’d like to publish it otherwise. A publication I’m especially interested in is Anti-Heroin Chic, because of my poetry about addiction.

Addiction recovery goes well. I’ve been sober from all substances for a little over 2 weeks. I’m happy to say I’m finally giving 12-Steps a real try. And it’s actually right for me this time. I have a sponsor, I’m going to an LGBTQ meeting everyday at noon, and I’m doing the work. As I said today at a meeting, the sky is starting to look beautiful to me again.

Other projects of mine:

The Pandemic Poetry Open Mic Featuring Susan Vespoli, January 16th. I’m very excited about this. It will be perfect timing for the release of her book Blame in on the Serpent. I really enjoy Susan’s work, especially her poem “Chicken” and her poetry about addiction in her family. It looks like over 100 people are interested on Facebook, so there should be a good turnout! I’m going to read as well, and I’m looking forward to hearing what other people bring. I plan to doit every month. In February we will feature Ithaca poet Nora Snyder. Stay tuned!

Queer Writers Meetup on Discord, meeting pretty much daily at this point. This has been a HUGE help to me, as I’ve made a few friends I write with regularly. We set a time for 30 minutes, write, then share if we want and give feedback. Then we do it a second time.. I was a little skeptical that this would be a good idea– don’t want to edit too much as you go — but it’s been such a motivation to write everyday. We also have free writes with prompts on Sundays.

I’ve written quite a beefy entry, so I think I’ll end here for now. I haven’t even gotten into life on our land, which is starting to come together again. This summer/fall was….a mess. But we’ve got this! Next spring we are going to get back to work on planting, building, and more. We have a couple, Rima and Kris, who will be moving to the land soon, and collaborating with us. All very exciting. I will write about that soon. In the meantime, here is their blog, Half Hectare Homestead.

I also started a Discord server for my partner Joey’s company GenderCat.com. That has been rewarding, interacting with the trans community.

If you’re interested in following my progress on my novel, please continue to follow me here, or add me on Facebook, or Instagram.

Oh and lastly, I will soon have an interview coming out on the blog Bitchin’ Chickens, about my poetry and our chicken saga. Stay tuned!

Geneva, NY (Finger Lakes Pride)

As I write this I am currently staying at a hostel in Philadelphia. I will have much to say about this- we’ve only just arrived. So I figured I better get a move on with my post about our trip to Geneva for Finger Lakes Pride! That was last Saturday.

The Flounge

First, we got there around 10 for a trans/gender-variant open mic at this place called The Flounge. It was a coffee house and gift store. Most the performers, mostly older trans women, shared their personal transition stories. I read a few chapters of my second book. The reception was warm. I enjoyed it.

Me reading at “The Good, the Bad, and the Funny!” open mic

After that we killed some time by the lake. I had a wine slushie and Joey took some photography. Then it was time to set up for the festival.

I was in a tent with several nonprofits. It was actually kinda rough being next to the domestic violence/sexual assault counseling volunteers, because I had to hear people ask them questions all day and multiple triggering subjects were brought up. Anyway. I managed. I was also annoyed by the nonprofit next to me on the other side that was asking questions for prizes, one of which was “if you’re a lesbian who sleeps with other women, do you still need to get a pap smear?” It was cissexist and trans erasure and ugh. I’d explain why, but I’ll give my reader the benefit of the doubt that they can figure it out or look it up. Hint: not all lesbians have cervixes, not all people with cervixes are women.

People were pretty cool and I sold and signed quite a few of my books and some of my art. It was really hot and muggy, so that sucked, but I did OK. Especially after the free wine tasting! I may have made a few rounds. After that, I tried on some costumes made available by the local theater group.

It was cool to see what appeared to be a few young trans boys pick up my books and buy them. Cis people too. But it touches me when young trans people are interested. One of them looked super sad, and he bought a book so I hope the book gives him something to relate to maybe? I dunno. Some of the people I talked to were really super nice and encouraging of the work I’m doing.

Oh and there was this one drunk woman…

Lady: This is great! I mean, it’s all so important. Bruce Jenner’s interview really opened my eyes to this stuff.

Me: Oh. I haven’t seen it. (Note: this was before I heard she was going by Caitlyn)

Lady: Seriously? He- well- she? He-slash-she…He-she…

Me: Whoa, hey there. Not sure that calling them he-she is cool.

Lady: Well he said to still call him he. For now.

Me: Cool. So do. I feel the same way, by the way. Call me he, for now.

Lady: Haha you’re too funny!

Me: No really, it changes sometimes. But he works, for now.

Lady: Oh, haha, OK. Right! Why not? Hahaha! Well um, bye!

Fun times. I was absolutely charming but firm through this whole interaction and kind of in love with myself.

Later as it started to pour and thunderstorm, a young gay man and his bestie stopped to talk to Joey and I about cats for quite some time. They bought some of my cat art and we showed pictures of our cats on our phones. They were awesome.

Then we had to rush out of there before we were all struck by lightning and died.

All in all I had a good time. Highlight of the trip? A little girl of like 6 was perusing through my used queer books and came across Maurice by E.M. Forester. “Mommy, I need this!” “What, why? There are no pictures.” “But I need it!” “No, come on….” “Noooooo! Please!” I whispered to the mom that she could have it for free, because it was just too dang adorable and reminded me of myself. Maybe she is a future fellow trans-fag-English-major-Writer in the making. We can only hope!

Tomorrow morning I start vending at Philly Trans Health, so I hope to see people there! More about this Philly trip coming ASAP, as it happens most likely. Stay tuned. THERE ARE PICTURES OF FERAL CATS SOON TO COME.