In six weeks, we’ve sold 100+ books and sent out dozens more for review and inclusion in LGBT collections. Along the West Coast, friends have donated copies to organizations in their communities while in New York City, a patron saint is collecting books from a variety of transgender writers and gifting them to a LGBT Health Center in Alice’s name.

The early reviews have been particularly kind and responses within the family have been largely positive as well (with one glaring and unexpected exception). All in all, it’s a fair start for little book by a little nobody; a book I feared just months ago would never see the light of day. .y reminds me that marketing is a marathon rather than a sprint and the work of getting the book into the hands of those who might benefit most from it has only just begun.

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For two days now, I’ve been preoccupied with Leelah Alcorn. Her death and wrenching suicide note have broken open the carefully contained well of grief I carry. As the bereaved mother of a transgender child, that shouldn’t be surprising. Last night, I scrolled through her tumblr page and much like Ashlie-Alice’s MySpace page, I could see the sadness and anger, but also sweetness and humor – just an ordinary extraordinary child.

For two days now I have watched people put this collective grief into action, spreading Leelah’s story, starting petitions, creating memorials and suggesting legislation. Others have lashed out directly at her family, an action I can’t condone. It is easy to single out Leelah parents, to heap scorn upon them in the midst of an unfathomable grief. But the truth is, our energy is better put into educating those who would act in the same manner, heed the same advices and drive another child to acts of desperation.

We MUST educate, not just LGBT allies but the general public, teachers, parents, religious leaders, social workers and counselors. At the very least, we need to say the following over and over, loud enough that they cannot NOT hear:

+  Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation are not the same thing. At all.

+  Trans kids are at greater risk than their peers for bullying, depression, drug use, physical and sexual assault, self-harm and suicide.

+  Spiritual counsel and mental health care are NOT interchangeable. Subjecting a child with gender issues to therapy with unqualified counselors can do irreparable harm.

+  Medical interventions like anti-androgens (acting as a chemical pause-button for puberty) and/or hormone therapy can greatly increase a trans child’s chances at a happy/healthy adult life.

+  Resources are available. You (parent or child) don’t have to do this alone.

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights.  Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something.”

Leelah’s words should ring in our ears a long while – until we have done the work she called for.

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dfqAnna Meade of Nine Muse Press is kinda brilliant. And beloved. She is Queen Mother to a loosely assembled writing community known collectively as her Minions. This year, she put together a gift guide stuffed with books from writers in this community. I am pleased to have “The Complicated Geography of Alice” among them.

“Tis the season to support indie authors and show a little #indieluv. For your shopping pleasure, I have compiled a list of minion books. These are hard-working, talented people and if you can’t buy their stuff, sharing this post so that other shoppers can find it will be so appreciated.”

Please take a moment to peruse the gift guide. You might well find enough good books to finish off your Christmas list.

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myspace mirror pixAges ago, I posted this list of things, small acts of remembrance that we can do in Alice’s name. Last night, as I talked with someone who had just finished reading the book, I thought it might be a good time to post these again:
kiss a soldier boy
eat a chicken sandwich
register as an organ donor
paint your toenails screaming pink
watch a great war film or kick-ass zombie flick
tell a child that you’re proud of them and mean it
make a donation to a non-profit organization in her name
do something unexpectedly nice for a teenager without an explanation
forgive someone who isn’t expecting it and maybe doesn’t even deserve it
donate a book on gender identity to a library or youth organization in your town
cook something new using at least ten spices from your cupboard but no written recipe
play some rave song in your car far louder than you ought to with the windows rolled down
plant a lipstick kiss on the easiest accessibly mirror and leave it for the remainder of the day

sing, dance, laugh, cry, spit, swear, stomp, shout, write a letter or a poem or a story or a song
most of all though, and if nothing else, you can simply say her name, say her name, say her name.

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(Part 1 – How I Ended up Publishing Independently)

I didn’t intend to get all indie with this book, or maybe I did in the beginning, but when editors start nosing around one feels hopeful and when agents get involved it’s easy to dream of the big leagues. Who doesn’t want a posh NY Agent with international connections?

When I got one, I thought it was time to kick back and let her take over. Oh I wrote the proposal she asked for (with gritted teeth, mind you) but once I handed over the proposal, I ceased to be an active participant in the process.

It was up to her now.

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