Eelgrass is here!

Eelgrass CoverEelgrass is here! I am so excited!

There is a paperback (here) and an ebook (kindle edition here) available RIGHT NOW; they are being processed by all of the various ebookstores and should be available soon.

Here’s the summary:

In Irish folklore, a selkie is a seal who can take off her sealskin like a coat and become a woman, seducing fishermen anywhere she goes. If one steals her sealskin, she is bound to his home, marrying him and mothering his children – unless she can find it and escape, leaving her family on shore forever.

In Eelgrass, a lesbian reimagining of tales about women and the sea, Efa is having too much fun to worry about stories. Too young to have earned respect in her village, she spends her days roving with her beautiful and vivacious best friend, Bettan — until the night Bettan disappears into a rainstorm, and Efa can’t shake the certainty that she’s been taken.

Desperate to rescue her friend, Efa seeks out the fishwives, half-human fish who dwell under the tides and kill sailors with their sharp teeth and alluring songs. She doesn’t expect to find Ninka, an outrageous young woman who makes her feel giddy and who might be the key to unlocking her own courage.

It’s a lot more fun and romantic than my other stories thus far, and I am really excited to bring it to print. There will be a hardcover edition forthcoming.

“Probably won’t make no money off this… oh well.”

One of the unexpected and delightful things about the decision to start publishing my writing and operating as a business is how confident I feel after only a few months. I have a business banking account now; I’ve been paid enough money to go out to dinner at Denny’s by myself with one child if it’s on a Tuesday when kids under twelve eat free. The difference between the first time I wrote a bio of myself (two hours, six people consulted, tears shed) and the most recent time (three minutes, two changes of wording, honestly it’s an author bio) is astonishing.

I haven’t completely figured out what I want to do with this space. I don’t have any plans for regular, scheduled posts, most importantly because I want to keep my actual deadlines rock-solid, but also because doing that on top of a day job, a publishing schedule, and chronic pain seems like a great opportunity to have a talk with my loving fiancee about “realistic expectations” and whether they include her making us both mac & cheese out of a box seven nights a week. But I do want a place to talk about what I’m doing.

What I’m Doing

  • I’ve done a lot of research on cover design in the past few months, and I am really excited to watch my skills and sensibilities progress.
  • After some consideration, I have taken my short story “In the Bedroom” out of KDP Select and have spread it out to many more markets. Yay! I also tweaked its cover, and once it populates to all of the relevant stores I’ll get some links up for you.
  • A second short story, “Stay,” is available on Amazon & is in KDP Select for the time being. I haven’t decided yet if it will stay there. It’s doing well on Kindle Unlimited, so maybe!
  • I am trying REALLY HARD to use twitter. It’s a little bit awkward! I #can’tgetthehashtagsright and #maybewillneverbeableto. You can see me personally @tcurtfish, or you can watch me (more frequently) gush about my betrothed @loveherbc. That’s supposed to be “love her because,” but she has gotten me reading it as “love her birth control” in the ultimate #IStandWithPP moment.
  • My first novel, Eelgrass, will be available July 14th. It is a story about mermaids and selkies and the worst things that happen to a friendship, and you will like it if you like sharp teeth, gullible narrators, lesbians, or if you wish that three-quarters of The Lord of the Rings had been set at The Prancing Pony. When pre-order links are available, you will have them and we will party.
  • Other than that? Hang out, relax. I am hoping to practice writing newsletters as I have updates, so if you are interested in giving me a supportive audience to write to not too often, sign up! Over there ->>>>>>>

Movie Night: Pride (2014)

Welcome to movie night, where my beautiful fiancée and I explore the world of LGBT cinema and bring it back to you. This week, we head to 1984 London to engage in a little political solidarity…



Pride is set during the 1984 UK Miner’s strike, and focuses on Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, an activist group that did what it said on the tin. The movie itself is an interesting series of contradictions: working with an ensemble cast and a lot more technical polish than we’re used to seeing in gay movies we haven’t heard of, it is both more and less political than it could be. The movie is as solidly pro-union as anyone since my rowdy sixth grade social studies teacher, with all of the emotional swells accompanied by folk music, but it doesn’t want to get too far into the details or the politics of the plot. Tonally, it’s a lot more like Remember the Titans than The Imitation Game

We picked this movie hoping that it would be fun, and because we were excited about the activism and labor aspects of it. Most of the Real Life Gay People we know are also capable of having political opinions more complex than “it should be okay to be gay”, but it’s hard to find that in fiction. The cast is also really good, made up of people (like Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy) who play the sort of characters who are a joy to watch and never much discussed.

Tori’s feelings: In a lot of ways, I felt like this movie was a rare example of what we ask for so often and never get: a Gay Movie that isn’t About Being Gay. It was generally funny and heartwarming and inspiring and it felt a lot like the kinds of fun-for-the-whole-family movies I grew up watching. With very few exceptions, there wasn’t much mature content that my mother wouldn’t have been able to wave off with an “Oh, I don’t know what the big pink silicone thing she was holding was, I wasn’t looking, shh, watch the movie.”

But unfortunately, the scenes where they felt like they had to include enough Major Gay Issues – particularly AIDS – to stay topical were some of the weakest. There’s an awkward moment where a character sees his ex and we are meant to realize that they are both HIV+. But it’s so off-key from the rest of the movie and so vague that it’s hard to tell if the end message is supposed to be “These people were in a relationship and now they are both going to die young” or “Wow, this guy spent way too long living in a Frankie Goes To Hollywood video and now his bizarre debauchery is catching up to him.” It wouldn’t have worked to cut AIDS out of the movie, but neither was it successful, in my opinion, to make it a hushed dark blue light throbbing beat secret followed by dramatic confessions. There’s a dearth of good fiction about the AIDS crisis, and unfortunately this was not it. But I’m not sure it needed to be – it was a satisfying story that was ultimately about something else.

B’s feelings: B liked this movie a lot, and was even willing to forgive it for not using its lesbians as much as it could have. Pride has been criticized for treating the lesbian splinter faction within Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners as more comedic relief than an issue borne of serious concerns, and there were definitely moments where we were supposed to laugh at the radical lesbians and instead looked awkwardly at each other. But we also just had fun with this one more than we had in a while.

She also raised the point that Pride felt more like it was assuming an LGBT point of view than many similar movies do. (Kinky Boots and RENT come to my mind immediately; she was thinking of 2015’s Stonewall.) While there is a character who plays the role of a viewer stand-in – he’s young, blond, a little unsure of himself, upper middle-class and, like the rest of the main cast, white – he is gay and in the process of coming out to himself, rather than straight and sightseeing. The narrative drama and humor around the LGBT and miner town cast trying to come together is fairly balanced between the two groups. They are each given narrative time and space to feel uncomfortable, and it was really wonderful how little it felt like the joke was that the more flamboyant characters were so weirdThe time the point of view felt most jarring for us was, again, when AIDS came into the narrative. It was much like the moment when someone walks in two hours late to a dinner party and wants to hear all the stories they missed. We wanted more space to get into the characters’ experiences and feelings, and the movie itself was so caught up in doing AIDS History 101 that we didn’t really get to. But we both acknowledge that this is probably about audience – we’re both up on our history, and it’s understandable that this was the moment when the moviemakers felt like they had to do more hand-holding.

Bechdel pass: Even if we wished the lesbians had gotten more plot-heavy screen time, the plot was so focused on the mining strike that there were plenty of opportunities for women, both within the mining town and the lesbians, to talk to each other about all sorts of things.
Body count: Well, some of the gay men in the movie survived, and considering the setting (1980s London; based on a true story) this was fairly kind of them.
Was it a phase? Nope!
Most redeeming feature: Definitely the lesbians sitting in the back of the van singing “Every woman is a lesbian at heart.” Alternately, all of feelings of Fellowship and Coming Together.
Recommended for: The sort of friends and family night where you’d normally be forced to watch Rudy again; torturing your brother-in-law who thinks Margaret Thatcher was a “strong woman.”

A butch lesbian gift guide for the rest of us

Or, What to Do When She Stops Wearing All Those Cute Dresses

I have learned two important things this holiday season, the first being that my fiancée, while talented at many things, makes terrible wishlists. (“Creative storage solutions”? Honestly?) The second is that the gift recommendation lists you can find online are often terrible, and it’s worse if you’re shopping for a butch lesbian. There are only so many plaid accessories I can buy, and she doesn’t like bow ties.

On budget

Reading recommendation lists can get disheartening after a few dozen thousand-dollar “must-haves.” I have listed items roughly by price at the time of writing. I also set a firm limit of $100, on the grounds that anything more expensive than that is probably(?) a diamond-encrusted yacht, and I know nothing about life at sea. I have included affiliate links where possible because I, too, have presents to buy, and my fiancée is hoping this list is a declaration of intent.

On pronouns

My fiancée is a butch lesbian, so I use female pronouns and assume we’re talking about lesbians. There are a lot of other groups of people whose preferences will overlap with hers; if you’re buying for someone who checks different boxes, I’m cool if you’re cool.


A cookbook with post-it notes, $5 – This is the gift I would have been happiest to get four years ago, when we were giving each other $10 Christmas gifts and it was still more than we could justify in our budget. Get a used cookbook and a stack of post-it notes, and go through marking the ones you like or making notes about what you think. If one of you is a vegetarian, I have had a lot of luck with the Moosewood cookbooks, and The New Moosewood Cookbook is available for a few dollars used. If you’re a traditionalist, you can pick up a copy of The Joy of Cooking at any thrift store – this is the version my mother had! And if she wants to bake (or if you want to drop some hints), you could do much, much worse than Baking With Julia, which promises “that most satisfying and sensual pleasure” and has been around long enough that you can get it used (and probably a little pre-floured) for very, very cheap.

An analog oven thermometer. The case is metal and the dial reads from 100 to 600 degrees.Taylor Precision Products Classic Series Large Dial Thermometer (Oven)
Oven thermometer, $5 – This is a really great gift for someone who aspires to be a better home cook than she is, or who aspires to be able to bake a pan of brownies without ruining all of her efforts, but is cursed with living in a series of apartments with increasingly bizarre appliances. It’s possible to go fancy, but you really don’t need to – a cheap thermometer will tell your recipient quickly and easily if the reason they keep burning frozen pizzas is that their oven runs fifty degrees hotter than it claims. My fiancée’s mother got us practical stockings a few years back, and it was a great way to stock up on NyQuil and cough drops. This would have been great in those.

A hot cocoa mix packet. The flavor is double chocolate.Ghirardelli Premium Hot Cocoa, Double Chocolate, 1.5-Ounce Envelopes (Pack of 15)
Hot chocolate mix, <$10  – It’s a sad fact of life that if you love someone who doesn’t drink coffee, they will never be satisfied with coffee shop hot chocolate. A mix is a good in-between for when you don’t want to spend three hours combing through recipes. I was really successful last year with the Trader Joe’s European Style Sipping Chocolate, and at less than $5 a tin in stores, I think I’d still pick some up if I lived in an area that had them. (I would not recommend the peppermint hot chocolate, which we never finished.) It’s much pricier online, though, so this year I’ll be experimenting with other brands. Ghirardelli is well-reviewed and makes nice brownies.

Dandies vegan marshmallows packaging.Dandies Vegan Marshmallows, Vanilla, 10 Ounce
Vegan Marshmallows, <$10 – Please take my word for this: if you know someone who is vegetarian or vegan, they are suffering from a severe lack of marshmallows. They are probably crying themselves to sleep about it right now. And, if they’re like my fiancée and I were for years, they are vaguely aware that vegan marshmallows are a thing, that really exists in real life, but have never allowed themselves to buy them because they are expensive, and most vegan versions of food are a pale imitation and would be a waste of money. Marshmallows are not one of those foods. Dandies marshmallows are delicious, they melt approximately like real marshmallows, and they don’t give you that sickly marshmallow aftertaste that you’re used to. My 12-year-old cousin prefers them to the regular kind. If you have a health food store near you, you might be able to pick them up in larger quantities for less money, which, sorry, you may have to do.

A cover of the Family Handyman magazine. A caption invites readers to organize their garages. The Family Handyman
The Family Handyman Magazine, $10 – In the interest of full disclosure, this is a weird gift idea that worked out really well for my fiancée’s dad, the Person Who Doesn’t Want Anything, and that I am going to cheerfully repeat if we ever reach a point in our lives where home remodeling is a fun and exciting subject. Get the print version, not the online, because everyone likes getting mail and because all reviews suggest that the kindle adaptation is a shame and a hack job. Before you knock it: in our family, we now fight over who gets to give my fiancée’s dad’s annual subscription.

A Passport To Your National Parks (TM) passport is open, showing a cancellation stamp. Passport To Your National Parks, ~$10 – This is where I expose myself as a major dork. I grew up in a very outdoorsy family, with the Passport to Your National Parks program as a part of my childhood. My fiancée did not, so when we first met I got to watch her learn how to hike and camp, and we both had to wait and see if she enjoyed it. (Good news: we are now scoping out scenic honeymoon locations!) To participate in the Passport program, you purchase a passport, divided up into the different regions of the US National Parks. Then, when you visit the national parks, at the ranger centers they have cancelling stations where you can stamp your passport and have a record of your trip. I think this would be a very endearing couple’s gift, or a gift for a friend who would like to travel more. There are only fifty-nine US National Parks, but there are more places that aren’t National Parks and have cancellation stations.

A bottle of essential oil perfume lays on a wooden table with flowers.Lilac & Moss Essential oil perfumes, $10-12 – Lilac & Moss is my friend’s perfume shop. And here’s the cool thing: she makes handmade, hand-mixed, vegan essential oil perfumes. She is a newlywed femme lesbian. And she is deeply familiar with the problem of colognes that all smell like Prom and disappointment. If you’re looking for a more butch-friendly scent, she recommends Haven, October and Atalanta. She also does custom mixes, so if you’re looking for something new, reach out and see what you can come up with!

A cover of a Tracy Chapman album. A woman stands with an acoustic guitar. Tracy Chapman – Greatest Hits
Tracy Chapman album, $12 – If you’re buying a gift for someone, she falls into one of two categories automatically: either she already has all of Tracy Chapman’s work, or she could use more. This remastered album is brand new, which means she doesn’t have these versions, and it’s reasonably priced for the holidays. There is a major logistical problem in buying a Tracy Chapman Greatest Hits album, which is, as my fiancée pointed out, “Is it possible to have an album that’s better than Tracy Chapman?” It’s really your choice – her self-titled debut is cheaper and basically perfect. The new Greatest Hits collection is new and shiny and has “All That You Have Is Your Soul” on it.

A small teal book. Embossed on the cover are the words "One Line a Day: A five year memory book." One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book
Five-year journal, ~$15 – As a writer, the gift of a journal has always been a frightening commitment. I like the five-year ones, though, which offer a little bit less daily commitment and a little more long-term reward. A long-term journal might be a cute idea for someone who has just come out (especially if, like one of my friends, she seems the type to remember and celebrate her lesbianniversary) or who is going through a hard time.

A greeting card. A cartoon alligator struts across the card, and the words "thank you" are printed in bubbles above the alligator's head.C.R. Gibson Thank You Notes, 10 Boxed, Alligator
Blank cards, <$20 – It’s good to have options for sending handwritten notes, especially thank you notes, but most of the prepackaged sets are a bit… floral. These alligator cards are cheerful and cute, or there are a few sets with less aggressively girly motifs. This is also a good time to trawl etsy, because card sets are so relatively expensive to start with (and most people use them so infrequently) that getting the nice hand-printed ones won’t break the bank too much.

A movie cover. The title is "Cloudburst," and the cover shows two elderly white women looking fondly at each other.
Movies, ~$20 – I really have nothing else to say except that if she’s the type of person who likes to have DVDs, and she doesn’t have Cloudburst, you should get it for her. It’s the only gay movie without a traditional happy ending where I don’t mind. It’s sweet and funny and about old grouchy lesbians, and it has the more polished, high-budget, Real Movie feel that you so often miss out on when looking for lesbian movies. If that doesn’t work (or you want a happy ending), an older choice is Saving Face, which is very sweet and very good and has the incomparable Joan Chen in the role of the lesbian main character’s mother. The production values are a little lower than in Cloudburst, but in a charming indie film way, and the movie doesn’t suffer.

A Precious Moments Christmas Ornament featuring two people. One holds out a Christmas ornament reading 2015, while the other figure gives the first a hug.Precious Moments Our First Christmas Together 2015 Ornament
Christmas ornaments, <$20 – Christmas ornaments aren’t especially trendy, but I think they are a nice gesture, especially for young LGBT people who aren’t always able to inherit them, or who might need a little reminder that someone thinks they’ll have a tree to decorate. This Precious Moments ornament is exactly the kind of kitschy thing everyone I knew had on their tree growing up, and features a plausibly gender-neutral couple. This couple’s owl ornament is also very cute and manages to leave the owls ungendered. For a solo ornament, I really do like Hallmark’s line – this Eeyore ornament is sweet and timeless.

A cover of the book The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For, featuring cartoon women. Books, <$20 – I like giving books for gifts almost as much as my fiancée likes not reading them. The especially nice thing about them is that no one cares if you buy them used. Far From Xanadu by Julie Ann Peters is a young adult book about tragic first lesbian love that, by all accounts, was the only gay book my fiancée didn’t hate in her small town, Wisconsin library.

Anything by Alison Bechdel is immediately both on trend and classic, because she is only starting to become well-known to a straight audience, but you can (probably) convince someone that you’ve been following her work since ’89. Fun Home is the obvious choice, and would probably not go poorly with tickets to the musical if you can come into them. Are You My Mother? is the companion to Fun Home, and is a much more brooding and Freudian graphic novel. Alternately, The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For is a good edition for someone who is too cool to pass up a good throwback, but not so cool that she already has all of the books in their original itsy-bitsy editions.

On a slightly lighter note, Lost Cat is a graphic novel written and illustrated by a lesbian couple about their cat. (My fiancée’s review: “I loved Lost Cat. I cried a lot.”)

And if you are buying for a woman whose tastes trend academic, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold is a history of the working-class lesbian community in Buffalo, New York from the 1930s to the 1960s. We own it, and it’s a very nice book in a category without many options.

A card game, Funemployed, showing a box and a set of cards. Funemployed, ~$25 – Funemployed is, without any qualifications, the party game I would be playing with family this holiday season if I had been good enough during the year to get out of Cards Against Humanity purgatory. That’s it. End statement. The name admittedly sounds like a job search program dreamed up by the camp counselor from hell, but it’s a funny card game that finally, finally puts the pressure to be witty on the players. This gives it more replay value and a greater ability to adapt to your audience.

A John Deere hooded beanie. It is green and yellow and has ear flaps, small yellow antlers, and green-and-yellow deer ears.John Deere Green Knit Beanie Hat With Deer Antlers
A nice hat, <$30 – My fiancée assures me that FFA butch is going to be in style any minute now. On that note, I think this hat is adorable, and will admirably accomplish the goal of making your giftee look very cute, no matter whether she is happy to wear the hat. There is an equally ridiculous version in brown, which would be a good substitute.

A set of dark metal collar stays engraved with GPS coordinates.Personalized secret message collar stays, <$30 – This is a great idea that is honestly wasted on people who have never had to be in the closet at work. Collar stays are, I have been told, a thing that people wear to make their nice button-down shirts look more fancy and starched. If you get a personalized message on them, the wearer can very secretly and discreetly remember their individuality (and, based on the listings I’m seeing, preference for fishing over conference calls?) while maintaining their professionalism. Get yours on Etsy, not from any particular shop. The prices aren’t any better and it will make you feel very cozy and small business to give your sweetheart handmade secret message collar stays. I like this listing, which is reasonably priced and has lots of feedback.

A black handheld flashlight.Streamlight 66318 MicroStream C4 LED Pen Flashlight
Flashlight, <$30 – A nice flashlight is the sort of thing that is useful in all sorts of situations, but that it’s easy not to justify purchasing on a day-to-day basis. I like this one because it strikes a good balance between size and power; it’s not so bulky and difficult that it’ll be tempting for her to pull out her phone flashlight (again) when she really needs something better.

A cast iron griddle.Lodge LPGI3 Cast-Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle, 20-inch x 10.44-inch
Cast iron reversible grill/griddle, $35 – This thing is basically my dream right now for a lot of reasons, but to start off: it’s reversible and huge. (If you are buying for someone who cooks and who doesn’t always put ten times as much in a dish as it is meant to hold, first of all I am in awe of them, and secondly I am not qualified to tell you what they want because I’m not even on that plane of existence.) It’s possible to get electric griddles, and some people prefer them, but I like this version, which goes over a grill or a stovetop, because it feels more like having another pan and less like having another bizarre appliance. The cast iron surface takes some getting used to, but it transmits heat better than aluminium and is increasingly non-stick with use. Best of all, it makes it much more likely that you’ll be able to wheedle some french toast for dinner out of them.

A brown-and-black leather wallet is open to display its contents. Saddleback Leather Small Bi-fold Wallet in Black
Wallets, <$50 – I feel like we go through wallets in our household a lot faster than we should, so my primary interest is durability. If you’re buying for someone who wears men’s pants (and therefore is used to actual pockets), wallet buying gets a lot more fun, because you can worry less about whether they’ll fit. If you’re looking for practical rather than pretty, and if real leather is okay, you can’t go wrong with the Saddleback wallets, which are made to last until her kids are old enough to ask, “Mom, why do you still carry that ratty old thing? Don’t you know how to use a retinal scanner?” If leather isn’t okay, or if she needs more of a credit card/business card holder, I like this stainless steel option, which will keep anything she needs safe and mangle-free.

A triple A roadside kit, in a bag with a handle.AAA (4388AAA) 76-Piece Excursion Road Kit
Car emergency kit, $80 or create-your-own – It’s not glamorous, but if she’s recently in charge of her own car or life, she might appreciate it. The AAA kit is convenient and far-ranging, but you might get better value from buying supplies yourself and turning them into a kit. Another option, assuming that she has her frost-and-snow supplies covered, is to pick up some nice jumper cables and a first aid kit – this Coleman one is a good set-up and will cover all of the basic medical drama that might come up.

A shockingly ugly Green Bay Packers green and yellow sweater vest.NFL Football 2015 Aztec Print Ugly Holiday Sweater Vest – Pick Team
Sports fan accessories, <$100 – The great thing I learned about entering a family where everyone but me is into team sports is that anything you do that requires any knowledge of the team sports suddenly makes you SUPER COOL and going out of your way to accept who they are as a person. The other thing I learned is that if you are buying cool sports team-related merchandise for your football-obsessed girlfriend, it’s a good idea not to buy from a discount fan store you’ve never heard of and assume that your gifts will arrive on time and be what you ordered. These ugly sweater vests are great because they say, “I love you and I have accepted that my life will be forever ruled by a game I don’t understand.”

Computer/video games, $5 to too much money – I mean, this is probably what my fiancée would get for every single Christmas gift if the world were just. If she has a STEAM account for playing games online, I can testify that buying a gift on STEAM is remarkably quick and easy, and gets you bonus points. She recommends Undertale, Left 4 Dead 2, Fallout, and Gone Home. (“OH, WAIT, DO YOU HAVE GONE HOME? IN STEAM GAMES. PUT THAT. IT’S GAY.” was the most excited I’d seen her in days.) If not, some delicate questioning will reveal the game she wants in no time. 

Hello world!

Welcome to my very official writerly site!

I’m looking forward to publishing some of my stories and carving out more of an online presence over the next year. Soon I’ll have schedules and information on upcoming work. Until then, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed this declaration of intent.