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Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - 07:00

Well-meaning people will offer a number of very strongly worded rules of behavior for authors. I will heartily endorse most of them, such as, "Never ever ever talk back to reviews" and "I don't care if you're a professional editor, nobody can edit their own work successfully." But there are other rules for authors that make certain unwarranted assumptions about the author's situation. I'd like to talk about two of them today: "Pay no attention at all to reviews" and "Never compare your career to that of other authors." The people who wave these rules in your face are typically coming from a place of priviledge where they have an agent, a publisher, and likely even a publisher's publicity department to do these things for you. And the simple fact is that someone needs to pay attention to reviews and to the shape of your career, and if no one else is doing so, then you need to do it for yourself.

Let's look at "pay no attention to reviews." My publisher has pull-quotes from reviews of my books on their web page for my books. You know how they know those reviews exist? I told them. This is particularly applicable to reviews of my work in SFF spaces, because those are entirely off my publisher's radar. But even in LGBTQ media spaces, I've been instructed to point out reviews of my work because otherwise there's no guarantee they'll know about them. So I not only need to know that reviews of my books exist, but I need to read them so that I can highlight particularly useful ones that my publisher can use for publicity purposes. No one else is going to do this. If I don't do it, it won't get done. Pay no attention to reviews? Wouldn't it be lovely.

How about "never compare your career to that of other authors"? This is all very well if you have a solid idea of the scope of what your career should look like. If you know what a book contract should look like and how a publisher should treat your work. If you know what reasonable timeframes are. If you know what types of publicity are useful and which types only exist to enrich someone else. (Professionally-organized blog tours? If you're paying for them, they exist only to enrich someone else.) If you don't have to organize getting your books to reviewers by yourself. (How do you know which reviewers might be interested? You compare your work to other authors and see where they're being reviewed--and you try to second-guess whether those particular review opportunities are even available to you.) If you know what types of interview and guest blog opportunities are available. (How in the world are you supposed to know who to approach about these things if you aren't comparing your work to other authors?) If you know which types of award venues will enhance your reputation and which ones will flag you as a hopeless wannabe. (It's ok to cast a broad net when you're first starting out, but eventually you need to pay serious attention to the company your books are keeping. Look at the books that win a particular award and ask yourself, "Is this a book I would be proud to lose to? Would I really consider it an honor just to be shortlisted for this award?") If you aren't paying attention to award shortlists and winners and comparing your work to them, you won't know whether it's worth submitting your books for consideration. And that could mean you either miss opportunities or you find yourself boasting of something that turns out to be a vanity award. If you don't have an agent or a publishing publicity department that follows up on these things, then you have to do it yourself. And that means spending a lot of time paying attention to other people's books.

Where is the line between studying the field to work out the appropriate expectations/baselines and looking at other authors' careeers and becoming consumed with envy? It isn't as easy to identify as you might think. It's hard to achieve something in the writing world without wanting it deeply. Wanting something deeply implies being dissatisfied with not having it. Figuring out how to achieve something that other people appear to have achieved implies thinking about that achievement. And we are all human beings. You can suppress the envy, you can conceal it, you can lock it away in a box in the back of your closet along with your secret fantasies of fame and fortune. But you can't stop being human and wanting things.

So if you're a published author with an agent and a large publisher, and you find yourself admonishing another author about obsessing over reviews and the opportunities that other authors are enjoying, check your privilege. Because even if you feel like you don't have much, it may still be worlds more than what that author has--what they even have the slimmest hope of

* * *.

Barbara Lumbeirt would seem to have a great deal of privilege in Rotenek society, but her interest in law and government brings her a great many frustrations at the invisible barriers set between a woman and full participation in that sphere. The casual discussions, debates, and tacit agreements that are hammered out in the gentlemen's clubs are, if not entirely closed to her, entered into only with the spotlight glare of surprised attention. A ball, on the other hand, serves many purposes, and Barbara has come to enjoy most of them.

* * *

Chapter 23 - Barbara

When pressed to it, Barbara had to admit that she enjoyed the grand balls of the season. That is, she had begun enjoying them after the first few years, once the suitors had given up hope of her granting them anything more than a dance and a penetrating conversation about politics. Back when she had attended on the old baron, she had stood watchfully in the arcades and galleries, focused entirely on him and those around him. In those days, she’d wondered why he bothered with dancing masters and lessons in comportment if she were only to be a spectator. She’d denied it at the time, but she’d envied the bright and elegant figures in the center of the salles, knowing she had no entrance to that world except in Baron Saveze’s service.

Then the world had turned upside down and she became Saveze.

Barbara had arrived late and danced a set with Rikerd Ovinze, and then another with Perrez Chalfin, before seeking out her hosts to exchange pleasantries. With several daughters of an age for dancing, the Alboris had become part of the backbone of the season—these grand events designed to introduce a parade of accomplished young women to a similar parade of promising young men. The family’s connection to Lord Albori, the foreign minister, meant they could attract the cream of Rotenek society, despite not falling within the upper ranks themselves. She watched Renoz Albori move through the figures in a gown of apricot silk, overlaid with silver tissue. Her sister must have accepted an offer, or she wouldn’t have been allowed to outshine her.

“Another triumph I see, Verneke,” Barbara commented, nodding in Renoz’s direction. “Mihail, I’m guesing the rumors are true that your eldest has settled her choice at last. Is your cousin here tonight? I haven’t seen him yet.”

Mihael Albori harrumphed in acknowledgment. “Yes, though I beg you’ll allow him one evening without a word of affairs in France!”

Barbara smiled, knowing that Lord Albori himself had no such aversion. It was another hour before she found herself in company with the minister and, as she had guessed, he was deep in conversation over matters unrelated to the ball.

Estapez was asking, “Are you likely to be sent back so soon? I thought Perzin was to take charge of our interests in Paris.”

“He’s a good enough boy. Very sharp. But I expect Her Grace will want someone more experienced until matters settle down again.”

Barbara guessed correctly at which matters they were discussing when Estapez returned, “But he’d been ill for quite some time. Surely the French ministers have everything in hand?”

“You’re speaking of the death of King Louis?” Barbara asked. The question briefly drew their attention, and then the circle reformed and she was accepted into the conversation.

“Nothing is ever settled until there’s a funeral and a coronation,” Albori said. “There’s no judging a king until he’s worn the crown a while. We have no idea what sort of neighbor Charles will be.”

It was the sort of idle banter that Barbara knew was common in the clubs, but she had access to it only at events such as this, or around the council hall. That made balls even more of an attraction than the dancing did. Nothing of any importance would be decided in such a setting, yet she enjoyed being accepted into the debate.

She both wished Margerit were at her side and was glad to spare her what she would find tedious. Politics amused her even less than dancing. Barbara scanned the room and her eyes settled on a tall figure at the far side. Now there was another person who appeared only grudgingly in the Grand Salle.

Antuniet stood regally at the edge of the knot of admirers surrounding Jeanne. They had come to a compromise, where Antuniet would accompany Jeanne into society on occasion, then drift away to quiet corners when the press and noise became too much. They had their little rituals to maintain the truce.

Barbara watched one of those rituals now as Jeanne reached out briefly to touch the crimson pendant that always hung at Antuniet’s throat before returning to her audience. Antuniet turned to retreat to the far end of the salle where a glassed-in conservatory opened off toward the gardens and one might find some solitude even during the bustle of a high season ball.

Something in the way that Antuniet moved nagged at Barbara’s attention. When you had trained with the sword for more than half your life, you never stopped seeing such things: a change in balance, a shift in how one carried oneself. They had met to consult on the current set of alchemical gems several times in the last weeks. Had she stood too closely to notice? Her gaze followed Antuniet’s path across the salle. At first the impossibility of the suspicion baffled her. Yet the signs were unmistakable now that she looked for them. Barbara’s lips thinned into a grim line as she counted back. Without seeming to follow, she too drifted toward the far end of the salle.

Mother of Souls
Monday, December 12, 2016 - 07:00

The purpose of tags on Lesbian Historic Motif Project posts is to make information relatively easy to find. The topics covered under “people/event tags” identify specific historic texts and authors, or historic individuals or events that are discussed in LHMP publications. This essay is intended to explain briefly how the “people/event” tags are being used.

The second purpose is to provide a thematic tag list that the visitor can use to explore the site. The number of tags used in the project, and the organization into four different categories, doesn’t lend itself to a traditional tag-cloud. The Place and Time Period tags each have a single essay. The People/Event and Misc. Tags are covered in thematic groups in multiple essays due to the larger number.

The People/Event tag group requires some explanation of my approach in order to make sense. For historical published material, ideally I have a single tag for each relevant text that includes both the title of the work and the author’s name (if known). If the author’s personal life is also relevant to the project, or if they cover relevant themes across a significant body of work, they will generally have a separate personal tag. For historic individuals, if the person was in a specific relationship that makes them relevant to the project, I will generally have a entry for the pair, rather than individual entries, although “relationship” is interpreted broadly and fuzzily here. Because my tagging system has emerged as I work, rather than being carefully planned, there are some inconsistencies. I often go back and adjust tags on existing posts when I notice. In general, I’ll only tag a person or publication if they are mentioned in my write-up, rather than tagging for everything mentioned in the original text. The tags are meant to help the user explore the site, rather than being an exhaustive index.

I’m planning six essays for the People/Event Tags, each covering a general category with several subcategories. In addition to the current essay, People/Event essays will cover:

  • Historic Crossdressing and Passing/Transgender People
  • Historic People Relevant for Emotional, Affectionate, or Sexual Relationships
  • Literary Examples of Crossdressing or Gender Disguise
  • Literary Examples of Emotional, Affectionate, or Sexual Relationships
  • Poetry Expressing Romantic or Sexual Relationships

Note: The new automated cross-posting functions of my blog means for readers on LIveJournal or via RSS, LHMP posts will include the introductory text, but the reader will need to click through for the main content. I hope that readers in those venues will consider the Project interesting enough to do so!

ETA: Evidently the system still needs some tweaking, as the version of this post on the site was supposed to include the actual content! So click through here to see what was supposed to follow this text automatically.

The purpose of tags is to make information relatively easy to find. The topics covered under “people/event tags” are historical persons, authors, written works, and other specific events, organizations, or works that are the subject of the research and publications covered by the Project. This essay is intended to explain briefly how the “people/event” tags are being used.

The second purpose is to provide a tag list that the visitor can use to explore the site. The number of tags used in the project, and the organization into four different categories, doesn’t lend itself to a traditional tag-cloud. The Place and Time Period tags each have a single essay. The Event/Person and Misc. Tags will be covered in thematic groups in multiple essays due to the larger number.

I’m planning six essays for the People/Event Tags, each covering a general category with several subcategories.

  • Non-Fiction Sources and General Authors
  • Historic Crossdressing and Passing/Transgender People
  • Historic People Relevant for Emotional, Affectionate, or Sexual Relationships
  • Literary Examples of Crossdressing or Gender Disguise
  • Literary Examples of Emotional, Affectionate, or Sexual Relationships
  • Poetry Expressing Romantic or Sexual Relationships

This page introduces the reader to the first set of People/Events tags, which includes the following groupings:

  • Authors (or their works) describing gender or sexuality issues as non-fiction
  • Authors (or their works) discussing gender/sexuality issues in a more theoretical fashion
  • Authors who frequently address issues of gender or sexuality in literary works (individual works may also be tagged)
  • Authors who frequently includes descriptions of sex between women in literary works (individual works may also be tagged)
  • Miscellaneous items, currently including specific works of art and social institutions (both historic and fictional)

Authors (or their works) describing gender or sexuality issues as non-fiction, especially those citing specific persons or cases.

The number of Arabic-language writers in this group is to some extent a result of the greater willingness of medieval Islamic culture to discuss the topic explicitly. Another significant group is “medical” writers who have suddenly discovered the clitoris and concluded it either causes or is caused by lesbian activity. Also included are travelogue type works where there is no specific person or case that can be identified.

Authors (or their works) discussing gender/sexuality issues in a more theoretical fashion

Authors who frequently address issues of gender or sexuality in literary works (if I also have a tag for individual works by the author, I’ve listed those here)

Authors whose work includes descriptions of sex between women where the work is a mix of fact and fiction, or the factuality is uncertain.

  • Aphra Behn - 17th century English playwright and poet whose work includes female homoerotic themes and who may have had romantic or sexual relationships with women.
    • The False Count (Aphra Behn)
    • To the Fair Clorinda (Aphra Behn)
    • Agnes de Castro (Aphra Behn or Catharine Trotter Cockburn) - Note: This refers to two separate works by this title, but discussions aren’t always clear which is being discussed so I’ve combined them.
  • Margaret Cavendish - 17th century English philosopher and Duchess of Newcastle whose works include themes of female homoeroticism and women-only societies.
    • The Convent of Pleasure (Margaret Cavendish)
    • Matrimonial Trouble (Margaret Cavendish)
    • Love’s Adventures (Margaret Cavendish)
    • The Comical Hash (Margaret Cavendish)
  • Mary Astell - 18th c English writer on topics that include feminism and marriage resistance.
  • William Shakespeare - 16th century English playwright whose works often touch on themes of gender disguise or friendship between women.
    • Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare)
    • As You Like It (William Shakespeare)
    • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare)
    • Titus Andronicus (William Shakespeare)
    • The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare)
    • Much Ado About Nothing (William Shakespeare)
    • Pericles (William Shakespeare)
    • The Winter’s Tale (William Shakespeare)
    • Two Noble Kinsmen (William Shakespeare and John Fletcher)

Miscellaneous items, currently including specific works of art and social institutions (both historic and fictional)

Saturday, December 10, 2016 - 16:00

This is only a test. If this works, then posting a blog entry at will automatically cross-post to Live Journal.

Friday, December 9, 2016 - 11:00

Well, I saw it. Lots of fabulous effects, especially in creating the creatures. But also lots of unanalyzed tropes that felt worse than lazy. The ditzy blonde with the heart of gold. The callously predatory mentor of a teenage boy where the relationship involved enough physical affection to cross the line (for me) into evoking pedophilia. The message that you can be an endearingly dorky guy and still be a hero, but if you're a tormented broken outsider, you have to die. And for a story that engages with themes about prejudice and persecution, there's a startling lack of addressing racial issues in 1920s New York, whether it's the complete glossing over of the contradictions of having a black MACUSA president who would face dual prejudices in "nomaj" society, or the substitution of non-human background characters for what would be expected to be black roles in the nightclub scenes.

It isn't's just...not very self-aware. But we sort of knew it was going to be like that, didn't we?

[I'm posting this a day early as part of trying to trouble-shoot some access issues with new posts.]

Friday, December 9, 2016 - 07:02

This is not an actual blog entry. This is an attempt to troubleshoot the display and feed of blog entries which has gone completely bonkers. Today's blog should be a movie review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If you miss it, it's unimportant. (That goes for both the review and the movie.)

Thursday, December 8, 2016 - 13:00

This post is mostly an exercise in convincing myself that I've been productive this year, even though I only had two pieces of fiction come out (and one of those was a self-published free novelette). I hope that it may have a second purpose, which is to entice people who don't follow my blog to consider doing so. I will freely confess that one of the reasons I blog so extensively is that pernicious voice whispering in my brain, "Maybe if you just write enough, if you research enough, if you make yourself useful enough to other people, maybe then they'll want to talk to you and be your friend." I recognize this for the fallacy it is. No one has contracted with me for this output. No one owes me eyes or attention. And there are wonderful people who would be my friend even if I weren't blogging. But there it is: I own that aspect of it. I even blogged about it. (Of course I did.)

For entries posted in the first 3/4 of the year, I'm mostly linking to Live Journal (exceptions being some of the longer series that have their own tag at the blog). Entries from the last 1/4 or so of the year (after I set up a blog at my own website) are linked to my Alpennia Blog.

So what have I written this year? Here's a brief overview. The majority of this material either falls generally in SFF topics, or in historical topics (especially my lesbian history project and related material).

  • General essays (11)
  • Essays on the process of writing (does not include minor posts on writing progress or promotion) (41)
  • Convention reports (4)
  • Lesbian Historic Motif Project
    • Publications covered (27)
    • Podcasts (5)
    • Queer Sci Fi columns (4)
  • Other Historic Research (includes the start of an extensive primary source material project) (3)
  • Essays on gardening and cooking (6)
  • Reviews
    • Lesbian movie reviews (an ongoing series) (5)
    • General movies (7)
    • Novels (23)
    • Graphic novels (5)
    • Audio fiction (7 but this includes some multi-item posts)
    • Live theater (6)

Random Thoughts and Philosophical Discussions

Living with Metaphors - or, The Problem of the Purple Elephant (2016/01/28) - Some thoughts that draw from my cognitive linguistics background, talking about the ups and downs of using metaphoric language to reason with.

Non-Industrial Metaphors for Anger (2016/02/03) - More on the topic of metaphoric reasoning.

Failure Modes of Metaphoric Thinking (2016/02/10) - The conclusion of my brief series on the topic.

Five Words: Lily, Plum, Bowl, Ether, Rice (2016/02/18) - One of those blog games where people give you prompts to write about. I managed to tie these together with family history.

A Peculiar Sort of Immortality (2016/02/25) - Wherein I ruminate about all the people in the world who know me only as The Woman Who Is Wrong About The Bathhouse Dress.

To Do and To Let Be (2016/03/10) - How do you know when something will improve spontaneously?

My Workplace Superpowers (2016/03/17) - Why biotech pays me big bucks for my brain and my writing skills.

Poem: 2016 (2016/044/21) - Inspired by the conversation about notable deaths in 2016.

Future Shock and the Stress of Change (2016/04/24) - The First World Problem of dealing with a computer upgrade that was left too long.

Now with More Randomness (2016/09/15) - A brief explanation of just what it is I do for a living in the biotech pharmaceutical industry.

Who Owns History (2016/10/13) - A consideration of the desire to "claim" historical person's for one's identity, identity zero-sum game, and how that can set different marginalizations in competition.

Process of Writing (does not include general progress reports and teasers for Mother of Souls)

Punto in Aria (2015/12/30) - A poem about reconstructing the stories of under-documented people in history.

Retreating to Advance (2015/12/31) - A look-back on my decision to step back from my non-writing (and non-paycheck) activities in 2015.

Distracted by a plot-bunny (2016/01/05) - The historic research that inspired my novelette "The Mazarinette and the Musketeer"

Giving it Away (2016/01/19) - Why I sometimes choose to offer short fiction for free rather than trying to find paying markets.

Who Tells Your Story / Whose Story Gets Told? (2016/01/21) - Some thoughts I had about how artistic interpretation both focuses and diffuses attention, inspired by the musical Hamilton.

Guest Blog: Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event (2016/01/30) - "Puzzle it Out"

This is My Heart; I Don't Know if it will Come Through the Fire (2016/02/04) - Ruminations on my very complicated relationship with self-promotion.

Spreadsheets, we have spreadsheets! (2016/02/09) - How I keep track of all my characters, and why I consider it important for even the most minor characters to have a full backstory, if only in my mind.

Unicorn Management, or Inspiration Around Us (2016/02/11) - Just where do I get my ideas?

Marketing Marginalized Identities (2016/03/03) - Some thoughts on the damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don't problem of marketing books that include, but are not targeted solely at, marginalized identities.

Fate isn't What it Seems (2016/03/15) - I don't believe in "fated soul-mates", either for fictional characters or in real life.

Looking for Beta-Readers with Specific Expertise (2016/03/29) - I had several people comment very positively on the details of my "looking for PoC beta-readers" post. A pity it didn't actually result in any useful contacts for that specific topic.

Polysemy in Titling (2016/04/05) - Have you ever wondered just what I intended by the titles of the Alpennia books?

Book Covers (2016/04/07) - Trials and tribulations in my first experience trying to commission book cover art.

Writing Outsiders (2016/04/19) - One of my standard themes is placing my characters outside the expected norms of society in some way.

...However Long it Takes to Get to the Revolution (2016/04/26) - Finding the balance between plotting and pantsing in a multi-volume historically-grounded series.

What Good are Bad Reviews? (2016/05/03) - Playing with some graphs and data-crunching to talk about what all 5-star reviews do and don't mean about a book.

More Data-Crunching in the Meaning (or Lack Thereof) of Book Rankings (2016/05/05) - Futher discussions of what you can and can't take away from your Amazon and Goodreads data.

The intriguing directions my plots take when I ask the question "Where are the people of color in the world of Alpennia and what are their stories?" (2016/05/19)

Overthinking Book Dedications (2016/06/02) - I agonize over whether it's an appreciation or an imposition to dedicate a book to someone you don't know personally. [Follow-up note: eventually I decided to go ahead and do it, and the dedicatee was pleased.]

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions (2016/06/07) - An overall look at my book revision process.

Character Sexuality (2016/06/09) - How do you represent non-default sexualities in historic contexts that don't share the categories and labels we're used to?

Defaults and Marked Cases in Book Advertising (2016/06/14) - I return to the frustrating problem of both marketing books with marginalized characters to people desperate to find representation, without inadvertently scaring off other readers.

Breaking the Rules of How to Explain Things to Readers (2016/07/12) - A consistently strict camera-eye third person point of view has been one of the features of the Alpennia series so far. When and Why have I broken that?

Representation and Intersection (2016/07/19) - What does "own voices" mean in historic of secondary-world settings, particularly when a character represents a complex intersection of voices?

Storybundle Guest Blog: The Origins of the Great Passenger Derby by Melissa Scott (2016/07/30) - Melissa talks about the historic underpinnings of her story in the bundle.

Storybundle Guest Blog: Don't Let Them Take Your Reynards by Martha Wells (2016/07/31) - Martha talks about fighting to keep her gay secondary character when he got copyedited out.

Getting My Reading Mojo Back (2016/08/04) - What does it mean when it feels like all the books you read are "merely very good"?

Storybundle Guest Blog: Magic in The Armor of Light by Melissa Scott (2016/08/04) - Just what it says on the label.

Storybundle Guest Blog: Werewolves of WWII by Geonn Cannon (2016/08/06) - Geonn's shapeshifter spies through history.

Storybundle Guest Blog: The Emperor's Agent by Jo Graham (2016/08/07) - The historic individual who inspired Jo's protagonist.

Storybundle Guest Blog: The Origins of Trafalgar and Boone by Geonn Cannon (2016/08/08) - The roots of Geonn's steampunk adventure.

Storybundle: But Wait, There's More... (2016/08/11) - Lists and links to follow up on what else my Storybundle comrades have written.

The Awkwardness of Category Defaults, or Under What Circumstances am I a Man Writing Gay Sci Fi?

A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody... (2016/09/08) - Musical structures and fictional structures.

Lately, Not Quite So Random (2016/09/29) - Contemplating the radical act of telling general stories through a queer lens.

To Dance, Perchance to Dream (2016/10/11) - On inventing social customs for a fictional country.

Revising the Classics (2016/10/20) -  A prompted essay on which pieces of "classic literature" I'd be tempted to rewrite as queer. My notion of "the classics" may differ from other people's...

What Do (Alpennian) Women Want? (2016/11/04) - One of the most important tools I use in character development is to ask what that character most wants, even if she doesn't realize it herself yet.

Guest Blog: Finding the Fantasy in History by Stephanie Burgis (2016/12/01) - Stephanie drops by to talk about being inspired by historic research and about her new book Congress of Secrets.

How to Help Promote a Book (2016/12/06) - Suggestions for fans, particularly fans of small-press books.

Convention Reports (Many of my convention reports discuss issues of being an introvert at SFF conventions, just in case this is a particular interest of the reader)

FogCon (2016/03/13)

Kalamazoo Medieval Conference (2016/05/13-15)

Bay Con (2016/05/28-31)

Worldcon (2016/08/17-21)

Lesbian Historic Motif Project (several of these publications required many posts to cover, so this doesn't entirely reflect how much work was involved) - I haven't given the posting dates for these and this heading links to the project as a whole. Check it out!

111. Walen, Denise A. 2005. Constructions of Female Homoeroticism in Early Modern Drama. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-6875-3

112. Castle, Terry (ed). 2003. The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall. Columbia University Press, New York. ISBN 0-231-12510-0

113. Bennett, Paula. “The Pea That Duty Locks: Lesbian and Feminist-Heterosexual Readings of Emily Dickinson’s Poetry” in Jay, Karla & Joanne Glasgow (eds). 1990. Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions. New York University Press, New York. ISBN 0-8147-4177

114. Zimmerman, Bonnie. “’The Dark Eye Beaming’: Female Friendship in George Eliot’s Fictions” in Jay, Karla & Joanne Glasgow (eds). 1990. Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions. New York University Press, New York. ISBN 0-8147-4177

115. Brown, Judith C. 1984. “Lesbian Sexuality in Renaissance Italy: The Case of Sister Benedetta Carlini” in Signs 9 (1984): 751-58. (reprinted in: Freedman, Esteele B., Barbara C. Gelpi, Susan L. Johnson & Kathleen M. Weston. 1985. The Lesbian Issue: Essays from Signs. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN 0-2256-26151-4)

116. Newton, Esther. “The Mythic Mannish Lesbian: Radclyffe Hall and the New Woman” in Signs 9 (1984): 557-575. (reprinted in: Freedman, Esteele B., Barbara C. Gelpi, Susan L. Johnson & Kathleen M. Weston. 1985. The Lesbian Issue: Essays from Signs. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN 0-2256-26151-4)

117. Lansing, Carol. 2005. “Donna con Donna? A 1295 Inquest into Female Sodomy” in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History: Sexuality and Culture in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Third Series vol. II: 109-122.

118. Lyons, Clare A. 2007. “Mapping an Atlantic Sexual Culture: Homoeroticism in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia” in: Foster, Thomas A. (ed). Long Before Stonewall: Histories of Same-Sex Sexuality in Early America. New York University Press, New York. ISBN 13-978-0-8147-2749-2

119. Ingrassia, Catherine. 2003. “Eliza Haywood, Sapphic Desire, and the Practice of Reading” in: Kittredge, Katharine (ed). Lewd & Notorious: Female Transgression in the Eighteenth Century. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. ISBN 0-472-11090-X

120. Lanser, Susan S. 2003. “Queer to Queer: The Sapphic Body as Transgressive Text” in Kittredge, Katharine (ed.)  Lewd & Notorious: Female Transgressions in the Eighteenth Century. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. ISBN 0-472-11090-X

121. Durling, Nancy Vine. 1989. “Rewriting Gender: Yde et Olive and Ovidian Myth” in Romance Languages Annual 1: 256-62.

122. Lardinois, André. “Lesbian Sappho and Sappho of Lesbos” in Bremmer, Jan. 1989. From Sappho to de Sade: Moments in the HIstory of Sexuality. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-02089-1

123. Jelinek, Estelle. 1987. “Disguise Autobiographies: ‘Women Masquerading as Men’” in Women’s Studies International Forum, 10, pp.53-62.

124. Dover, K. J. 1978. Greek Homosexuality. Harvard University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 0-674-36261-6

125. Clarke, John R. 1998. Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art 100 B.C.-A.D. 250. University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0-520-20024-1

126. Friedli, Lynne. 1987. “Passing Women: A Study of Gender Boundaries in the Eighteenth Century” in Rousseau, G. S. and Roy Porter (eds). Sexual Underworlds of the Enlightenment. Manchester University Press, Manchester. ISBN 0-8078-1782-1

127. Hobby, Elaine. 1991. “Katherine Philips: Seventeenth-Century Lesbian Poet” in Hobby, Elaine & Chris White (eds). What Lesbians do in Books. Women’s Press, London.

128. Wheelwright, Julie. 1989. Amazons and Military Maids: Women who Dressed as Men in the Pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness. Pandora, London. ISBN 0-04-440494-8

129. Crompton, Louis. 1985. “The Myth of Lesbian Impunity: Capital Laws from 1270 to 1791” in Licata, Salvatore J. & Robert P. Petersen (eds). The Gay Past: A Collection of Historical Essays. Harrington Park Press, New York. ISBN 0-918393-11-6 (Also published as Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 6, numbers 1/2, Fall/Winter 1980.)

130. Eriksson, Brigitte. 1985. “A Lesbian Execution in Germany, 1721: The Trial Records” in Licata, Salvatore J. & Robert P. Petersen (eds). The Gay Past: A Collection of Historical Essays. Harrington Park Press, New York. ISBN 0-918393-11-6 (Also published as Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 6, numbers 1/2, Fall/Winter 1980.)

131. Monter, E. William. 1985. “Sodomy and Heresy in Early Modern Switzerland” in Licata, Salvatore J. & Robert P. Petersen (eds). The Gay Past: A Collection of Historical Essays. Harrington Park Press, New York. ISBN 0-918393-11-6 (Also published as Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 6, numbers 1/2, Fall/Winter 1980.)

132. Jennings, Rebecca. 2007. A Lesbian History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Women Since 1500. Greenwood World Publishing, Oxford. ISBN 978-1-84645-007-5

133. Traub, Valerie. “The Past is a Foreign Country? The Times and Spaces of Islamicate Sexuality Studies” in Babayan, Kathryn and Afsaneh Najmabadi (eds.). 2008. Islamicate Sexualities: Translations Across Temporal Geographies of Desire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03204-0

134. Amer, Sahar. “Cross-Dressing and Female Same-Sex Marriage in Medieval French and Arabic Literatures” in Babayan, Kathryn and Afsaneh Najmabadi (eds.). 2008. Islamicate Sexualities: Translations Across Temporal Geographies of Desire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03204-0

135. Epps, Brad. “Comparison, Competition, and Cross-Dressing: Cross-Cultural Analysis in a Contested World” in Babayan, Kathryn and Afsaneh Najmabadi (eds.). 2008. Islamicate Sexualities: Translations Across Temporal Geographies of Desire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03204-0

136. Babayan, Kathryn. “’In Spirit We Ate Each Other’s Sorrow’ Female Companionship in Seventeenth-Century Safavi Iran” in Babayan, Kathryn and Afsaneh Najmabadi (eds.). 2008. Islamicate Sexualities: Translations Across Temporal Geographies of Desire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03204-0

137. Faderman, Lillian. 1981.  Surpassing the Love of Men. William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York. ISBN 0-688-00396-6

17th Century Sources in the LHMP (2016/01/27) - Link-post on 17th century material covered in the project.

LHMP Podcast #1: Ordinary Women (2016/08/26)

LHMP Podcast #2: Same-Sex Marriage in Restoration England (2016/09/24)

Special Lesbian Talkshow Podcast with Suzie Carr: The Masks We Wear (2016/10/27)

Special Halloween LHMP Podcase: The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti (2016/10/29)

LHMP Podcast #3: "Bosom Sex" in 19th Century America

Queer Fantasy Roots Column at Queer Sci Fi #1: Shapeshifters, M-preg, and Artificial Gestation in Medieval Welsh Literature (2016/08/16)

Queer Fantasy Roots Column at Queer Sci Fi  #2: Gender Transformations in Ovid's "Metamorphoses" (2016/09/17)

Queer Fantasy Roots Column at Queer Sci Fi #3: Astral Projection, Body-Sharing, and a Platonic Threesome in Cavendish's "The Blazing World" (2016/10/15)

Queer Fantasy Roots Column at Queer Sci Fi #4: The Changing Role of Amazons (2016/11/15)

Random Research

Name Diminutives in Medieval Welsh (2016/01/06) - A discussion of how diminutive nicknames were formed in Medieval Welsh. Just in case 20% of your characters are named David.

The Peculiar Fate of Sons and Daughers in Celtic Names (2016/01/13) - A very brief version of the variety of words meaning "son" and "daughter" in the Celtic langauge family, and how they were used in personal names, both in constructing patronyms and as part of proper names.

Civil War Diaries and Letters of Abiel Teple LaForge (ongoing series) - A new project taken from my To Do spreadsheet: getting my great-great-grandfather's diaries and letters up on the web.

Gardening and Cooking (does not include minor garden-progress posts)

The Medlar Harvest (2016/01/07) -What is a medlar? Why did I plant them? And what do you do with them?

The Historic Egg (2016/01/20) - We sometimes imagine historic cooking to be strange and elaborate. Here is a collection of my favorite egg recipes from the 6th through 15th centuries.

"Ducks like rain and rain likes ducks" (2016/02/21) - I reconstruct/invent an Alpennian recipe for Potenez (a duck and lentil soup).

Three Fantasy Gardens (2016/03/31) - A prompted essay.

Sex in the Garden (2016/06/16) - Manual pollination of squashes, what did you think it was about?

The Great 2016 Tomato Review (2016/08/23) - A photo gallery and evaluation of the 17 varieties of tomatoes in my garden this year.

Reviews: Movies - Lesbian (Link is to the overall index page for my lesbian movie reviews)

Aimée & Jaguar (2016/01/08)

Portrait of a Marriage (2016/03/11)

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (2016/04/15)

Lost and Delirious (2016/04/22)

Imagine Me and You (2016/10/28)

Reviews: Movies - Other

A Little Chaos

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Finding Dory

Florence Foster Jenkins

Queen of Katwe

Dr. Strange


Reviews: Books

Sexuality and Beth Bernobich's River of Souls (2016/01/14) - Not a review of a specific book in the series, but a discussion of how sexuality is handled in the world as a whole.

Allegiance by Beth Bernobich (2016/01/15)

The Sea is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng (2016/01/29)

Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher (2016/02/12)

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Extended series of posts)

Letters to Tiptree (ed. Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce) (2016/02/19)

Four Lesbian Historic Romances of the 1980s (2016/03/03)

​Vermillion by Molly Tanzer (2016/03/04)

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott (2016/04/29)

The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher (2016/05/06)

Through the Hourglass ed. by Sacchi Green and Patty G. Henderson (2016/06/03)

Graveyard Sparrow by Kayla Bashe (2016/06/10)

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold (2016/06/24)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik (2016/07/15)

Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis (2016/07/22)

Historic Fantasy Storybundle: And Then History Took a Queer Turn... (2016/07/24) - Not reviews, as such, but a survey of queer characters in the Storybundle that I participated in.

Goddess by Kelly Gardiner (2016/08/12)

The Emperor's Agent by Jo Graham (2016/09/02)

Everfair by Nisi Shawl (2016/10/21)

The Sisterhood by Penelope Friday (2016/11/18)

Reviews: Graphic Stories

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua (2016/01/22)

Nimona (2016/05/01)

Heathen (2016/07/16)

Monstress (2016/08/26)

Windrose (2016/10/14)

Reviews: Audio Fiction

Tremontaine by (multiple authors) (2016/02/05)

The Little Dog Ohori by Anatoly Belilovsky (2016/03/18) (2016/04/01) - Episodes 402-408

The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado ( Episode 409) (2016/04/08) (2016/07/08) - Episodes 410-421

The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer (2016/09/24)

Podcastle.or (2016/09/30) - Episodes 422-434

Reviews: Live Theater

Mary Page Marlowe (2016/05/20)

Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare) (2016/06/17)

Fences (August Wilson) (2016/08/05)

You Never Can Tell (George Bernard Shaw) (2016/09/09)

Othello (Shakespeare) (2016/10/07)

The Encounter (Simon McBurney) (2016/12/02)

Major category: 
Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 07:00

The diary entries for April 1864 are full of weather and some of the harder parts of army life. Mixed in with escorting troops and prisoners, delayed pay packets, and games of billiards, there's an account of the predatory results of mixing hardened deserters with convalescents on a transport ship and trying to sort out the aftermath when they arrive. And there's an account of an execution interrupted with what must have been a rather cruel pause in the proceedings. And in the middle of this, just as Abiel is making plans to end his convalescent duties and rejoin his original regiment (the New York 85th Volunteers), word comes that they've been captured by Confederate troops. (They were sent to the infamous Andersonville prison.) So, as Abiel says, the plan to rejoin them is out unless he goes to Richmond to do so. (Another example of his dry humor.)

Just as a reminder, the introductory material for this project and the original transcripts are available at my site. This includes the couple of years before the material I'm posting currently.

April 1864


Diary: April 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Letter: April 16, 1864 - In-camp activities, dealing with deserters, delayed pay

Diary: April 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27

Letter: April 27, 1864 - His original regiment is captured and taken to Andersonville, 9th Army Corps moves to Washington

Diary: April 29

Friday April 1st 1864

A.M. Cloudy. P.M. rained. We sent a large squad of men to Camp Chase today. I wrote a letter to Barton tonight. I have got the diarrhea again.

Saturday 2nd

A cold sleet has fallen all day. Very muddy and disagreeable. An order came tonight of 7 companies of the Invalid Corps now on duty here. It will take nearly all the detail men in camp. Four have to go out of this office.

Sunday 3rd

Cloudy but not rainy, quite pleasant walking. Sergeant and me enjoyed ourselves very much this p.m. Took a walk up by Fort Richardson and came back by the way of Fort Barnard. [It] looks like rain tonight. I wrote to Uncle John in answer to his letter [of] the 11th ult[imate]. I got a letter from Mrs Nelson Crandall and one from Mr Sherman Crandall. Mrs Crandall says she has assumed the place of a mother and craves a blessing on me as on an absent son. Sherman says they are making maple sugar at a fine rate up there. A thousand pounds already made.

[Note: Abiel's own mother died at some point before he was 7 years old and he doesn't seem to have had an affectionate relationship with his father's second wife. When his jounals and letters make reference to "Mother" he is referring to his sister Susan's mother in law. 2nd Note: The Potter family (the Susan married into) continued in the maple syrup/sugar business well into my generation and my mother often brought back jugs of their syrup after visiting with them.]

Monday 4th

Rained again. I think it only held up yesterday because it was sabbath. The seven companies of the Veteran Reserve Corps came over today to take the place of those sent away this morning.

Tuesday 5th

Rained all day. The boys say when the tide is up the water sweeps clear across the Long Bridge. We have had so much rain lately that the river is at an unprecedented height. I think it will clear up tomorrow. The wind is getting in the North.

Wednesday 6th

Warm and pleasant. Mud rapidly drying up. Captain Crawford got back from his leave of absence just at dark.

Thursday 7th

Clear and warm. Roads almost dry. I received a very amusing letter from Miss Anne Porter. Had a good laugh over it.

Friday, April 8th

Clear & warm. Looks like another storm tonight. I am reading McClellan's report. I do think that no General ever had so fine an oppertunity to accomplish great deeds as he did with his splendid army and its equipments. I believe that he did not try to accomplish all he could. As soon as he was relieved from the position of General in Chief, he seemed to lose his energy.

Saturday 9th

Rained all day. I took two men over to the city in an ambulance, one of them in irons. He has been court martialed and sentenced to ten months hard labor with a ball & chain & to forfeit to the government $10 per month. The other was to go to Depot Camp Meridian Hill. An order has been in force for several days to take up all ambulances found in town that did not have a pass from the Medical Director showing that they were used for medical purposes. I was expecting to be taken up by the patrol all the time, but as luck would have it was not. I ordered the driver to come back by the way of the Aquaduct Bridge. Roads in that direction are in a very bad condition. One days rain spoils them entirely.

[Note: Abiel has mentioned elsewhere that he's in the habit of commandeering ambulances for ordinary transport purposes when possible, so this seems to have been a regular problem for the army.]

Sunday 10th

A.M. cloudy, but not rainy. Cleared up at M. & thls P.M. very pleasant.

No rest for the wicked. I have been at work since 7 a.m. at the commissary papers for March. They should have been sent up to be examined before this, but Captain Hoyt has a new man at the work and they have been longer than common in making them out, and now there is a good many mistakes to be corrected. They should be ready to go in tomorrow and I have worked till this time 9 O.C. P.M. to get them ready. My sister has not answered my letter asking if Joseph [note: their father] was any better yet. I am afraid he is very bad and she does not like to let me know it. I had much rather she would, for certainty is better than this suspense. I have been adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying, reducing, comparing, and balancing so much to day that I will not write to Uncle John tonight as I expected to.

Monday 11th

Cloudy, no rain. It is now 11 o.c. & 40 minutes. I have just finished a letter to Mrs Crandall and one to Sherman also. I got up this morning at half past three, so in the last 24 hours I haye been at work 20. The Potomac is so high that the Long Bridge is impassable. This bridge is usually 8 feet above the water, but now the water is three or four feet above it. The [plain] is overflowed for 3/4 of a mile on this side which makes the river two miles wide now. Fear is entertained that the bridge will be swept away. Ten of our barracks are now used by order of General Casey for stationing regiments in, when they arrive here, until they can get their quarters up.

Tuesday 12th

Warm & pleasant. I wrote to Mrs Crandall & Mr Sherman Crandall last night. Went up to the room and played billiards tonight. I feel much better now, for today I received a letter from my sister saying that Joseph was a little better, although still very sick. Poor sister! I hope she will not get sick herself by over-doing herself. She always is so kind to a sick person and pretends never to feel fatigue in tending them. I really believe she is the best and most kind-hearted woman [that] ever lived. Such a good nurse, never getting tired or angry with [the] foibles of a sick person. Always ready and willing. She wins the love of all she nurses, and that is not a few, for she is called on more times than a few by all in their neighborhood. God bless her.

Wednesday 13th

Clear & warm. About 300 deserters came in today from Governors Island, New York. They were a hard set. A gang of about 60 of them was banded together on the boat and they robbed and treated the others just as they pleased. They were all down in the ‘tween decks: Convalescents, Stragglers, & Deserters. This gang would divide into squads of four or five. A squad would go up to a man that they thought had any money and tell him to “shell out.” No matter whether he obeyed and gave them his pocket book or not, they would lay him down, take off his boots and clothes, and search them all to see if there was any money hid about him. If they felt a place in the lining of any part of the clothes that was a little thicker than the rest they would cut it open. If the clothes were good and they wanted any of them, they kept them. They broke into the cabin and like to killed the Lieutenant commanding the Guard of the boat. They stabbed a Sergeant, but he had a steel lined vest on and it saved his life. They played the devil generally.

The whole thing was reported to Colonel McKelvy, and as soon as the men had been put in the Deserters Division where we keep a double guard, he had them drawn up in line & searched. They dared make no resistance for they would have been shot like dogs as they are. Over a thousand dollars was taken from them, beside watches & jewelry to a considerable amount. This money is to be payed over to the Convalescents & others who can prove the amount stolen from them. This is not the first but still the most wholsale robbery of the kind that has occurred on the boats coming from New York city.

Thursday 14th April

Warm & clear. Last night our detectives sought some smugglers crossing whiskey from Washington to this side of the river. One man, a horse and buggy, and two kegs of whiskey were captured. The boat and men which brought it across the river escaped. Mr man is now in our guardhouse and our detectives have gone down tonight to see if they will not attempt to land some more.

I have written to Miss A.S. Porter tonight. Edmunds & myself played billiards aganst Sergt Beaugureau (our crack player) today and beat him 35 points. Peach, pear, and cherry trees in bloom.

Friday 15th

Day cloudy. Will rain tomorrow.

Nothing of importance occurred. All quiet along the line.


Headquarters Rendezvous Distribution, April 16th 1864

Dear Sister,

Yours of the 7th inst[ant] was duly received. You can imagine what a relief it was to me, for I thought all the time that Joseph must be very sick and you did not like to write and inform me of his true state. I am sure I was much more uneasy than if you had written at once. Poor Josey! I hope when you receive this he will be enough better to at least sit up. You say [he] is so [blank] and quiet all the time that you are afraid he is not much better. I bet if I was there and sick, and you should tell me I would get well as soon as I got cross, that I would not be long in making you believe I was well at any rate. Why, don't you know that you made a reflection on all men when you stated that as soon as they got well they began being unbearable? Now, of course, I cannot allow you to have such an opinion without trying in some way to enlighten you on the subject. I don't know as it will be necessary to go to that trouble though, for when I consider that you must be nearly crazy watching and working I hardly have the heart to differ with you, even if my reputation as a member of the race called man is at stake, so let it went.

It was but little after five O.C. A.M. when I got up to write this so that I could send it by today's mail. I don't wish you to think that I seldom get up so early, for I often do. Very often, in fact once nearly every month, so you must know I am a very early riser. I seldom go to bed until after ten oclock, and very frequently not till after eleven oclock at night. I sit up reading, writing, talking, or playing billiards or chess. When I learn a game, I do hate to give it up untill I get so that I can beat anybody I play with. If I was content to let a game alone, or at least only play once in a while after I have learned, it would be much better for me. Cards, I never play. Do not think I have played with them but once since New Year's Eve. With them I have no ambition to excell.

It is raining this morning. Has been doing so for nearly two weeks until three days ago. The Potomac was never before known to be so high as it was last week. The Long Bridge, which is usualy eight feet above the water, was compleately covered. The plain three quarters of a mile on this side was covered, making the river two miles wide. Such a rise of water in a river the size of the Potomac is a very uncommon thing. We for a long time thought the bridge would be carried away, but it was not. All travel for a time between here and Washington had to be done by the way of the Aquaduct Bridge. I went over to Washington with an ambulance while the river was up and we like to have stuck fast in the mud about half a mile this side of the Aquaduct, with only myself and driver in it.

We have been having a rather busy time doing work for the Criminal Court for a few days past. A squad of two hundred deserters came on a boat from New York with some hundred and fifty other soldiers. They were all turned in together and treated alike. There was only a guard of fourteen men on the boat and they were afraid to do anything, so the deserters ran the whole thing. Dividing into gangs of five, they went through the boat and when they saw a man among the soldiers that looked as if he had any money, they quietly told him to give what he had. If he did or did not, it was all the same. They at once collared him, pulled off all his clothes, felt the pockets and linings. If they found a place where money could be concealed, they cut it open at once. When they were through searching, if they took a favor to any of his clothes, they appropriated them without saying "by your leave sir". As soon as they arrived at this camp, it was at once reported to the Colonel. He went down to see the men (convalescents). Their clothes were all cut up whereever there was a possible chance of hiding money. One man showed us where he had been stabbed for resisting them. He hapened to have on one of those steel lined vests, and it saved his life.

As soon as the deserters had been put in the barracks set aside and doubly guarded for their especial benefit, the Colonel ordered them to be searched and all money and jewelry taken from them. What a satisfaction it was for me to see them drawn up in a line, with such a guard around them that they dare not say a word, and be obliged to go through just what they had made the unarmed convalescents [go through], and all the money and other valuables found on them taken away! Their faces could grow as black as they pleased, but they could resist no more than could the men from whom they had taken the money now being taken from them. We got over a thousand dollars, besides watches, rings, chains, dirks, pistols, &c. These are to be kept in a safe and any person who can prove that they have lost such things as we took from these fellows and describe them will get them back. Also, if they can prove the amount of money they lost, they will get it back, the same with any articles of clothing in the possession of the deserters. This is not the first time we have heard complaints of this kind, but every time a boat comes from New York it is the same. But this is the first time we have made such a wholesale retribution for the sake of justice. It will teach these fellows a lesson at any rate.

We have not been paid since the payment for December 1863 and I am entirely out of money. I declare I will soon believe there is no such thing as an honest soldier, and never lend another cent of money to them. I have let them (detailed men) have a dollar or so until they are paid, and the first thing one knows they are off to their regiments. Lots of times I have been fooled, but I will be no more. Please tell Perry to send me a couple of dollars in your next [letter] and charge the same to my account. An order came the day before yesterday to send to their regiments all detailed men not belonging to the Veteran Reserve Corps (Invalid Corps). I dont know how soon the order will be carried out, so you had best write soon as possible.

I hope you are having a more pleasant day than we are. If not, it will be a very bad one for Josey. Oh how dreary a rainy day seems to a sick person! I pray that your next [letter] will bring me news of his improving rapidly. My love to mother and Janey. Also to Perry's people. Is little Charley's leg got so he does not limp yet?

With my best wishes I remain,

Your loving brother

A.T. LaForge


Sunday 17th

Rained until after sunrise, then cleared off, but was showery until two oclock. Rained all yesterday. Yesterday there came an order to send to their regiments all men not belonging to the Veterans Reserve Corps now on duty at this camp. How soon the order will be executed, I do not know. I wrote to my sister yester morn. I have been trying to get the General Orders for 1863 in the book form. As I could not do that, I am going to send the orders we have here into town to be bound by the direction of Captain Crawford.

Monday April 18th 1864

Clear & warm. I took the men, horse, and buggy captured Thursday night into Department Head Quarters today and turned them over to be disposed of there. I think it will go pretty hard with them. I went to the Sanitary room and got my dinner, then came back. I found a letter from Samuel here for me. He sends for money. I have answered stating that I have no money at my disposal now, as we cannot get our pay on the present pay rolls, and can not get paid here again anyway, as we are all ordered to our regiments by General Angur, who is going to have all duty done at this camp by the Veterans Reserve Corps.

Tuesday 19th

Clear but pretty cold. I went up and played with Edmunds one game of billiards aganst a couple of other fellows. We lost, and then played off, he discounting me. I lost again.

Thursday 21st

Clear & warm. Received a letter Samuel dated the 7th. By some means it was delayed, so that his of the 13th passed it. I have been hard at work all day. Tonight a letter was brought from Colonel North to Colonel McKelvy to say that a letter from the brother of Governor Seymoure made it necessary for him to see the Coonel in regard to my promotion. He desires to see the Colonel about the matter.

April 23rd 1864

Day clear & warm. I went to Washington to take 15 men to Depot Camp, and two men to Department Head Quarters who had been Court Martialed and sentenced to two years on the Dry Tortugas. I returned by the way of Georgetown. I received a letter from Sherman Crandall yesterday. All well. He says he hopes I will get home in time to go to school with him to Alfred Centre this coming winter.

Sunday 24th

Clear & warm. Received a letter from sister and one from Janey. Joseph is getting better and they soon hope to see him around again. How good this news makes me feel! Colonel North was over to see Colonel McKelvy this morning to see if I would rather have a commission in my own regiment or some other. I told him I should prefer some other. An immense nunmber of army wagons are parked about a mile below here, I should think five hundred at the least. I think Grant is collecting them here so that if he wins the decisive battle soon to be fought, they can immediately be loaded and started after the army on its advance towards Richmond. Or in case of a reverse, they will be at hand to supply his army with munitions or whatever is needed.

April 25th

Day very warm. Apple trees are blossoming. Lots of wild flowers in bloom. Buds have burst and the woods are green again. Currants and gooseberries are large enough to be seen distinctly. Oats are up. etc. Jackson (one of our detectives) told me if I would get a pass to go to Alexandria he would furnish the funds. So I got a pass for us and we went down. Took supper at Mr Simpsons, a gentleman who brings milk out to camp. After that we went to a house in town. Stayed about five minutes. I was much disgusted with the proceedings. Jack got thirty dolars from one of the girls. [From the context, I'm guessing that this was a whorehouse they were visiting. Abiel regularly makes comments indicating a fastidiousness about prostitutes. But in that case I'm curious about why Jack was getting money from one of the "girls."]

We went to the theatre. After it was out, we had a pick of steamed oysters for each of us, and then he went back to the house where we were in the evening [i.e., the whorehouse] and I started back to camp. Just after we passed the chain of sentinels, a shower came up. The moon was about an hour high and there was as fine a rainbow formed in the west as I ever saw. It was the first I ever saw formed by the moon. The 9th Army Corps was bivouacked near the road by which I returned. The boys were lying in the rain, rolled up in their blankets arround the fires. The Corps is about 20,000 strong. The countersign was "Vermont" tonight. Burnside Commands the 9th Army Corps.

Wednesday April 27th 1864

Clear and warm. Received a letter from Miss Porter. Answered one from my sister. My regiment has been captured by the rebs at Plymouth, North Carolina. so I cannot join them now, unless I go to Richmond for that purpose--which I hardly think I shall! But I wish I had been with them, where they were at Plymouth.

A squad of two hundred was got ready to go to Fortress Monroe today. A captain of the Veterans Reserve Corps has gone with them. When they got ready to start, which they did about 7 O.C., I jumped on a horse and rode down there as fast as I could, to have the boat kept for a while until the squad got there. They were expecting to start at 7 1/2 P.M. I found the boat at the Coal Wharf (Pier N° 2). I went aboard and asked the captain if he had [been] ordered to go to Old Point. He said he was expecting to go, but had no orders yet. I told him I would go down to the Quarter Master's and see about it. The Quarter Master sent a man up to give him his orders. I then went back and met the squad and showed them where to go.

I never saw such clouds of dust as was blowing. It was twilight, but a man could not be seen [at] two feet. After I got the men on board, I came back. Owing to the clouds of dust, I could not see & lost my way. The first thing I knew, I was in the plain away to the right of my road. I waited for a lull in the wind & then looked arround and saw a light about 2 miles off. I knew where I was then and came on. Got to camp about 10 O.C. P.M.


Head Quarters, Rendezvous of Distribution Virginia April 27th 1864

My Dear Sister,

Yours of the 20th has been duly received and I feel very much relieved by the good tidings it contains. Tell Joseph for me I consider myself very much his debtor for getting better just in time to send the good news to me in your letter. I was beginning to feel mighty bad, for as you did not write I began to think Josey was dangerous, and had half made up my mind to try and get a furlough. Probably I could not have got it, for there is strict orders aganst furloughing men from this command. I think I have enough influence to have got one from the Secretary of War, if it had been very necessary, for I have many powerful friends here. You must not think that I am vain in saying so, for I assure you it is all truth, and I am proud to be able to say so. For they are friends who have not given me their friendship on account of my riches. I understand Frank Basset is at home. Colonel North, our Military State Agent, procured a furlough for him. Frank looked very bad the last time I saw him. I should think he would get his discharge.

I see by the papers that the 85th is captured by the rebs. Captured while nobly defending their flag from polution, but their bravery was unavailing. Before this time they are probably incarcerated in some rebel prison. If I had joined them when I first thought of doing so, I should have shared their glory and also their imprisonment. I almost regret not being with them. Perhaps if all the men had been with them who like me are absent, their defeat might have been a victory. Still, such reflections are useless. The duty of a soldier is to perform any duty which his superiors direct him to. If I had went to the regiment, some man who was better able to stand field duty would have been put in my place perhaps. So looking at the matter in all its lights, I dont see as I am individually responsible for the capture of Plymouth and the gallant General Wessell, though I do feel as though all my family were captured with them. None but those who have experienced it can imagine the feeling of a true soldier, when absent from his regiment, [as] he reads of their being in an engagement, fighting nobly, and then after all their efforts to sustain themselves, being obliged to surrender, and be marched off to languish perhaps for months in an enemy's prison. He feels almost like considering himself the cause of their misfortune. [LaForge's regiment was taken to the infamous Andersonville prison.]

I hardly know what I am to do now. I was getting ready to join the company, but now I have no company to join, unless I go to Richmond for that purpose, which I in all probability shall not do. I shall send home a box of goods soon, so as not to be overloaded in case I do join them at their present place of abode.

Burnsides' command (9th Army Corps), which for some five weeks has been lying at Annapolis, sent there for the ostensible purpose of forming an expedition to strike some part of the Southern Coast, was last Saturday ordered to break camp and march for Washington without delay. They all got here day before yesterday, encamped and rested yesterday, and this morning started for the Army of the Potomac. Now that looks like true strategy and certainly was a most successful blind, to thus hold a splendid body of men in a situation where they could be easily subsisted and where they could embark and suddenly strike in any direction. To have every thing prepared for their embarkation, and then to--without any intimation of the plan--reinforcing the army on which the fate of the nation depends, with thirty thousand good fresh troops. As they are on the eve of a great battle [it] looks more like good generalship than anything I have seen yet. I believe if Grant (recently made general-in-chief) is allowed to have his own way, Johny Rebs will be driven from Virginia before our next celebration of the Glorious Fourth.

We are having splendid weather now: soft balmy days and nights, generaly a cool breeze blowing from the South West. Vegetation in in an advanced state. Apples, pear, peaches, and cherries are in full bloom. The woods are green and full of wild flowers. Gay plumaged birds are beginning to make their appearance, and "all nature looks gay".

I was coming out from Alexandria night before last about midnight. The moon had risen about an hour, when a little shower came up and passed away and left formed aganst the Western sky a most beautiful Rainbow. It was the first I ever saw formed by the moon and I was delighted with it. How I wish I was a painter, so that I could transfer it to canvas!

Do you know where mother was born? I do not. I will close by sending my kind regards to all, especially to Janey for her pretty little note. Your brother,

A.T. LaForge


Friday April 29th

Warm & clear. A military execution took place today down below us on the railroad. A fellow who had deserted our army and joined the rebs was shot. He was a splendid looking fellow: hair as black [as] a raven's and an undaunted front. He walked behind his coffin with his arms folded and looked around on the people as unconcerned as could be. Looked at his cofin and sat down on it when he arrived at the spot where he was to be shot, as coolly as if it was a chair. The bandage was placed over his eyes, but he was asked before this if he had any thing to say. He had not. Eight soldiers, half with loaded guns and the others with blanks, were marched up in front of him and the orders, "Ready, Aim," was given, when General Slough called out, "Hold on, Captain!" (How must the man have felt at these words! Probably thoughts of pardon came into his mind.) "March your reserves out of the way." (They were standing just behind the prisoner, and if the platoon had fired at him, some of them would have been hit.) As soon as this was accomplished the word "Fire!" was given. At the discharge, the man fell back on his coffin, shot through each side and through the neck. He had placed his hand over his heart, and the bullet that struck him in the left side went through it. The surgeon examined and pronounced him dead.

Major category: 
LaForge Civil War Diaries
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 07:45

As a reader, it can be easy to forget just how much power readers have to make or break the success of a book--particularly of a book that doesn't have the resources of a major publisher's promotion department. I always feel hesitant about asking my readers to serve as my publicists, but the simple fact is that when an author tells people about how wonderful her books are, it gets discounted as meaningless. When a third-party reader tells people how wonderful a book is, they're more inclined to believe it. So while I never expect my readers to promote my books, I will occasionally point out that the success of my current books has a major influence on whether you'll be given the opportunity to enjoy future ones. If that matters to you as a reader, it's important not to treat my work as some sort of guilty pleasure--to be admitted to only when pressed--but to shout out to the rest of the world what a wonderful experience they'll miss out on if they don't read these books. With that in mind, here are a few observations on the process.

There is no such thing as "over the top" when promoting a book. No one has ever been convinced to read a new author by being told, "The writing is kind of interesting," or "She's never going to be the next Ursula K. LeGuin or Brandon Sanderson, but the books are ok, I guess." People expect book recommendations to be full of intensity and passion. A luke-warm recommendation is heard as a polite way of warning readers away.

When you recommend a book, don't hand people reasons to decide to avoid it. Reviews need to include critical assessment, but when you're being an advocate for a book, focus on the things you like, on what you consider the book's strengths. Honestly, I cringe when fans of my books write things like, "Even though it's a lesbian romance, other readers might enjoy this," or "I don't usually like historic settings but this one worked for me," or "it isn't really much of a romance but I didn't mind that," or "I enjoyed this book but I wouldn't recommend it to most people because they wouldn't appreciate it properly." Talk about the specific aspects that you honestly and genuinely loved. "The worldbuilding is intricate and immersive," or "the characters are all richly individual," or "the plot went in delightfully unexpected places."

Don't pre-reject the book when people are asking for recommendations. The most important part of recommending a book is remembering to actually recommend it. I'm not saying you should act like a rec-bot and insert the recommendation randomly into every conversation. But look for connections where it matches part of what people are looking for, even if it isn't a "central case". Books like mine aren't ever going to be a "central case." They intersect too many themes for that. But most of all, I beg you, simply remember that my books exist and that you liked them. Once upon a time, there was a recommendation thread in a lesbian fiction group where a reader was specifically looking for historic/fantasy stories. After I waited patiently for a day to see if anyone would recommend the Alpennia books, I finally suggested them myself. Several posters who had previously made suggestion comments jumped in and said, "Oh yeah, I really liked Heather's books." But not one of them had thought to recommend the series themselves. Don't make Alpennia the Colonel Brandon [*] of the book world, the books everyone thinks well of but nobody remembers to talk about.

[*] Sense and Sensibility reference

At the very least, post a review-like-object somewhere online. Not everyone does Amazon reviews; not everyone does Goodreads reviews; not everyone has a review blog. But pretty much everyone who is reading this has some context online where they can say, "Hey, I just read this great book [title] by [author]. Here's what I liked about it." Make sure the title and author's name will show up correctly on searches. That sort of thing matters.

That's probably enough of a pep talk for one day. Let's have another excerpt from Mother of Souls. It's the first term of Margerit's new college for women and Serafina has been tapped to help out with the thaumaturgy lectures...

* * *

Chapter 22 - Serafina

“Mais— Serafina, I don’t understand.” The question came hesitantly from Valeir Perneld.

The hesitation in her voice was not from what they studied, for Valeir was one of Margerit’s most promising thaumaturgical finds: an auditor who heard the fluctus as choirs of angels. No, they all still stumbled over how to address each other. Margerit had declared that there would be no distinction of rank among the students. No constant reminder from mesnera to mefro of the distance between them outside these walls. And there, too, she held an awkward place. Not a teacher to be given the respect of a surname, and yet one who stood on familiar grounds with most of those who were. If the other students stumbled over addressing her as Serafina, she too stumbled to remember to address Akezze as Maisetra Mainus in their hearing.

“Yes, Valeir?” she said. “What is it?”

“How will it work to try to…to describe fluctus in pictures when I don’t see it?”

Serafina paused in laying out the drawings to answer. “Visio is the most common way of perceiving phasmata, if the word ‘common’ can be used at all. But even for visions it isn’t a simple question.”

From the corner of her eye, Serafina saw two figures slip quietly into the room. Not tardy students, but Margerit herself and a stranger in the dark clothing of a priest. It wasn’t at all uncommon for guests to observe the classes: parents who wanted to see what their daughters would be studying or simply the curious. And not surprising, perhaps, that a priest might be sent to examine what was being taught in the way of thaumaturgy. Margerit made a silent gesture to continue, so Serafina turned back to her topic.

“The depictio isn’t a true image. None of these are, any more than letters written on a page are the sound of a word.” She caught the eye of a plump, dark-haired girl at the far side of the table. “Helen, write your name on the board.” She nodded encouragingly to indicate that this was not intended as punishment.

The girl traced the letters crisply and precisely.

“Now in Greek,” she instructed.

With only the slightest hesitation, Helen wrote Ἑλένη.

“Now in Latin.”

Back to the more familiar letters: Helena.

“Now,” Serafina asked, “are those the same name?”

The students looked confused and uncertain.

“They’re not the same…” Valeir began.

Serafina returned to the dark-haired girl. “Who is your name-saint?”

“Sain-Helen,” she replied promptly.

“And if you read her life and miracles in Bartholomeus, what do you read on the page?”

Her eyes brightened in understanding and she said, “Sancta Helena.”

“Is that two saints or one?” Serafina asked. This time she directed the question to the whole cluster of girls.

“One,” they chorused.

Serafina nodded to indicate they’d done well. “So here you have a depictio that Maisetra Sovitre made during the Mystery of Saint Mauriz.” She returned to the images they’d been studying. “If I had represented that same moment of the ceremony—” She cast her mind back, though it hardly mattered in detail. “—I would have called the currents here more of a reddish-pink where she has green. I would have said it pulsed slightly, which she hasn’t indicated. And these lines here at the side are meant to indicate the aural part, but I rarely hear things during mysteries. Someone else who is a tactile sensitive might describe the same thing as a breath of warm air followed by a prickling as if an insect were walking on their skin.”

Two of the girls shuddered at that description.


“And yet the mystery is the same. The grace of God through Saint Mauriz is the same.” Serafina chose those words for the unknown priestly observer. Margerit was usually the one who insisted on the language of charis and miracles.

Mother of Souls
Monday, December 5, 2016 - 08:29

We've come to the largest and most diverse set of LHMP tags: "People/Works/Events." It's taken me a while just to start organizing how I'm going to present these, and I've only barely started writing up the brief descriptions to accompany each one. So today's post is just a high-level overview. (I.e., I don't have anything else to post on LHMP day, so this is what you get.)

Overall, there are three major types of information in these tags: historic individuals who had some sort of lesbian-like characteristic (remember that this doesn't necessarily mean anything about their specific desires or orientation); authors who wrote non-fictional (at least, purportedly non-fictional) works addressing some sort of lesbian-like characteristic or who wrote relevant literature falling into a variety of specific sub-groups; and works of literature that include lesbian-like themes or characters.

When I went through to assign sub-groupings based on emergent themes, here's what I came up with. Some of these are going to get merged with other sub-groupings as I work through them. My analysis style always goes through this sort of evaluation as I start categorizing and grouping data. In order to make the number of tags more manageable, I've taken a few different approaches. For example, if an author wrote a large number of relevant works, I may tag those discussions with the author's name alone, whereas if they only wrote one or a few, each work may have a tag that includes the title. 

Historic Individuals

  • Communities - Intended to identify specific institutions that have relevance to the project, e.g., specific women's communities. With only one item currently, I'll find a different way to categorize this.
  • Court Case - In most cases, trials that concerned lesbian activity include a personal name that can be used as a tag. But this sub-group also includes more anonymous descriptions. As I have a "court case" tag in the Topics tag-set, this has been something of a fall-back grouping and many examples are located elsewhere.
  • Crossdressing
    • General - Examples of crossdressing (including partial or overt use of gendered clothing without the intent to pass as the other gender) that don't fall in a more specific category.
    • Female Husband - Examples of either passing women or trans men who married (or attempted to marry) women.
    • Military Crossdressing - Examples of women who crossdressed as men specifically in order to enter the military. Includes some examples where the clothing was simply functional and there was no attempt to conceal gender.
    • Passing/Trans - Non-military, non-marital examples of crossdressing where the intent was to live as the presented gender. Includes some cases that are best interpreted as transgender identity.
  • Passionate Friendship - Women whose lives are relevant due to their participation in, or opinions about passionate/romantic friendships between women. In general, if there is a specific identifiable partnership involved that is presented to the world as a romantic couple, the sub-group "Romantic Pair" is used instead. The dividing line is fuzzy.
  • Romantic Pair - Women involved in a committed long-term partnership with each other, or a relationship that is presented as marriage-like or is clearly a sexual relationship. While examples in this group overlap with a number of other sub-groups, the emphasis here is on identifying specific known "couples".
  • Reputed Lesbian - Women who were accused of, rumored to be, or provide tangential evidence of having been involved in lesbian sexual relationships. In general, this sub-group is used when no specific partnership is identifiable (or when there are multiple), or when the accusation may not have been true.
  • Sex Between Women - I may merge these few examples into other categories, but it was set up as covering women where there is clear evidence of sexual activity but where there isn't a specific relationship and/or there's good reason not to interpret it as deriving from sexual orientation.


  • Descriptive Work - Covers non-fiction texts that intend to describe aspects of the world and society, e.g., medical texts, descriptions of cultural practices, records of specific events if I don't have a personal name associated with the event. The concept of "non-fiction" here is from the point of view of the author and intended readership, so it includes things like astrology.
  • Gender/Feminism - Authors (of literature or non-fiction) whose work addresses broad general themes of feminism or gender issues. I see that I've used this mostly for a separate author tag when that author's specific works are numerous and may also be listed individually.
  • Philosophy - Works addressing theoretical issues of gender and sexuality that don't really fall in the "description of the world as it is" category. Includes religious commentary on issues of sexuality.
  • Sex Between Women - Literary authors (usually when listed apart from specific works) whose work centers around depictions of lesbian sexual activity.
  • *Gender Transgression - I only have a couple of items tagged with this and will probably find a different grouping they fit into. It was intended to identify works concerning perceptions of gender categories that don't necessarily directly address sexuality.

Works of Literature

  • Crossdressing - A large body of works involving women disguised (to some degree of success) as men. See also "Gender Confusion" for a more specific subset.
  • Military Crossdressing - I may merge this small category with the general crossdressing group. In general, literary women who enter the military in disguise also fall in a more salient group (e.g., Gender Confusion).
  • Gender Confusion - This covers works where gender disguise (either by women as men or by men as women) creates the appearance or (temporary) understanding of romantic or erotic attraction between women. Note that this isn't meant to indicate that the characters are confused about their gender.
  • Erotic Flirtation - Works where women engage in erotic interactions or banter that are not presented in context as actual sexual encounters.
  • Communities - The sole example of a fictional community organized around lesbian sexual activity will probably be merged into some other relevant grouping.
  • Passionate/Romantic Friendship - Literary themes of passionate friendship between women. This sub-group covers a wide range of context and degrees of intensity, from devoted platonic friendship through erotic desire. In general, if a specific established couple is involved or if a sexual relationship is indicated, the characters will fall under "Same-sex Love" instead.
  • Predatory Erotics - Literary themes of erotic desire where it is portrayed as predatory, disfunctional, or pathological.
  • Same-Sex Love - Literary depictions of romantic/sexual couples covering a broad range of expressions but where the relationship is clearly distinct from platonic friendship.
  • Sexual Education - Depictions (generally pornographic) of women engaging in sex together where the activity is presented as sexual initiation in preparation for heterosex, rather than as being driven by lesbian erotic desire.
  • Sexual Innuendo - Literary depictions of an understanding of the potential for sexual activity between women, but where no specific characters are engaging in it.
  • Poetry: Love Between Women - Poems in the voice of a woman expressing love for another woman, or that make reference to romantic love between women. In general, I have only included examples where the language of romantic attraction is unmistakable, rather than all expressions of admiration or affection.
  • Poetry: Sex Between Women - Poems that reference or describe sexual activity between women.

Other - These are sub-groups that don't fit clearly into the above three categories. They're scheduled for re-analysis and merging with other sub-groups.

  • Transvestite Saints - This sub-group awkwardly straddles the historical and literary categories as many of the relevant biographies are almost certainly fictional. I'll probably move them under the historical group anyway.
  • Visual Art - While I have a "visual arts" tag in the Topics group, this is meant to tag specific artists who created lesbian-relevant work. Although I currently have only one tag here, in part that's because I haven't focused much on this topic.

So stay tuned for the actual tag-lists in this set as I write the up!

Saturday, December 3, 2016 - 09:53

Thank you all for entering! The lucky winner is Zara. Please contact me through the website contact form for infomation on how to claim your book.

Mother of Souls


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