Posts Tagged 'Clifford Henderson'

The Wearable Book

     by Franci McMahon 

   for Clifford Henderson


Knitting a pair of socks is a lot like writing a novel. When I craft socks they demand I spend a considerable time living with them before they are fit to be seen in public. During this time the garment and I become very intimate.DSC03662

The process takes place on many levels, from origin of idea to building row upon row of tiny loops, chaining the wool into a complete creation and I type, The End.

My imagination forms the socks into a kaleidoscope of finished work before beginning the construction process. I play with alternative endings, colorful characters that clash and are eliminated, or develop them into rich, even shocking forms. Will they be made from the wild colors of my mind, or rise out of a dutifully followed pattern? I suspect I’d be bored if I tried to structure a genre mystery using a blueprint from one of the many How To Write guides. A template can be seductive, but as with any formula, it is hard to deviate onto new ground while following the rules.

Perhaps I’ll use odds and ends left over from other projects. Tidbits and yarn endings I didn’t want to throw away, but probably should have.

My mind spins at the range of textures, choices spanning the contrast of mohair or lambs wool to give softness, nylon to add wear, or cotton for cool weather. One odd concept I’ve always loved is this: the weight of wool. Among knitters this is a common term, but for me it has always held mystery. So I imagine yarn of fingering weight, small but tough or light airy angora, or bulky yarn knit on larger needles for the work booted country dyke.

In many ways this relates to the author’s voice, this elusive term that defies definition, yet you know if it is present, or when it is generically absent, and the words have a certain flatness. You know that the author has reached for the Thesaurus one too many times.

Modern developments have introduced another decision, whether to knit them in wool that is machine washable versus the kind of wool I caress in a warm sink full of water and Woollight, gently squeezing the knitted creation out in a towel, and lovingly arranging them on a dry cloth on my dresser or kitchen table. The first wash gives the product shape, checks for flaws and leaves them smelling of the natural aroma of sheep’s lanolin.

Staying the Distance            Editing also lovingly shapes the final work. I am increasingly saddened by the quick ease of authors to self-publish. Most often they are deprived of this keen-eyed scrutiny, which enriches them as writers. For me the learning process is obvious comparing my first novel with my third. If you’re lucky you can have the opportunity to pull out and reknit the worn foot or foundation of a novel. In the years since my first novel Staying The Distance, was originally published, I’ve learned more about the building of a piece of writing. With the guidance of my editor, Jerry Wheeler, I reshaped and reconstructed a better fitting foot.

So, to all my knitting siblings out there, I wish you cozy feet this winter. And those of us who also write, try to imagine your novel as a friendly pair of socks.

The Best Pap Smear Ever


By Clifford Henderson

Newly in love, my girlfriend and I decided to get Pap smears at our local Women’s Health Center. I know. It doesn’t sound very romantic. But, in a way, it was. The year was 1991, and we were on the threshold of starting our lives together. And we were so in love: crazy, giggly, can’t keep-your-hands-off-each-other in love; we didn’t want to leave each other’s side for one second. So if Pap smears were to be had, why not schedule them together? As far as I was concerned, it was almost as big a commitment as getting married—because I’m sure the pap smears were my idea. Dixie, who I’m still with twenty-five, love-filled-years later, grew up on a cattle ranch in the dusty panhandle of Texas where “doctorin’ what ailed” consisted of shaving off a piece of a cow penicillin pill and downing it with a swig of Mama’s sweet tea. Me? I was a doctor’s daughter and big on those annual check-ups.


Cut to the Pap smears: Dixie in one brightly-lit examination room plastered with empowering, multi-colored, multi-ethnic posters of earthy womyn doing things like birthing the earth from their loins, their arms sprouting trees; me in a similarly decorated room next door; our feet simultaneously propped up in pot-holder-covered stirrups; our inner most cavities being simultaneously probed by thoughtfully warmed up speculums. Make no mistake, it was love, and we were in it.


scan0004As fate would have it, our appointments ended at the exact same time—a miracle since I always saddle my health care professionals with tons of questions—and so we met up in the lobby, each of us feeling that I-am-Woman-hear-me-roar feeling. Or, I was anyway. Dixie, no doubt, was thinking: Sheesh! Glad we got that over with. Now can we get back to sex? But there was a hubbub going on in the lobby. The staff seemed all worked up—as well they should’ve been because who was visiting the Health Center that day, but Gloria Steinem! I’m not kidding! She was standing there all tall and gorgeous and in those big glasses of hers. Turns out, she had a speaking engagement in Santa Cruz that day, and was just checking the place out.


It gets better.


One of Gloria’s entourage rushed up and said, “Gloria would like to have her picture taken with you. Would that be okay?” Of course, we said, “Yes!” Or, I did. I’m pretty sure Dixie just wanted to get the hell out of there. You can see it on her face. She’ll tell you it looks like she thinks Gloria just farted.


Weeks later, the Gloria sighting a mere speck compared to the wonder of falling in love, the photographer unexpectedly dropped the photo off where I worked, and, damn it, I never got her name—or, if I did, I was too love-stricken to remember it—but her photo sits proudly on a bookshelf of our office. I have had many pap smears since, (Dixie not so many) but never one graced by a celebrity.


Rest Home Runaways 300 DPISo, I hope you enjoyed my tale of The Best Pap Smear Ever enough to check out one of my novels. I’m slowly working on a fifth. Send me good vibes to keep going. And get your annual check-up! You never know what might happen.


Send me a comment about one of your Pap smears or Gloria sightings by Feb. 28th     and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of one of my novels—your choice.bsb_spanking_new_3ds__53490BSB_Mayes_Request_small

“Rest Home Runaways” Book Giveaway!

By Clifford Henderson

Three things I want you to walk away with after reading this blog entry.

1.) You could be a winner. Twice!

2.) I am a woman writer who just happens to be named Clifford.

3.) Victory Editions is da bomb.

The first item is pretty straightforward. I’m offering a book giveaway to anyone who comments on this blog before August 26th, the official one week anniversary of “Rest Home Runaways.”Rest Home Runaways 300 DPI (Paperback or e-book, winner’s choice.) That’s right, make any comment and I’ll enter you in the giveaway. Go to my brand spanking new website, enter a comment there, by the same date, under any of the blog entries, and you get a second chance at winning. This is my way of saying thank you to all my readers, because without readers, well, writing would still be fun, but not as fun. So comment away. And, even if you don’t win, know that I, Clifford Henderson, will consider you a winner anyway, because you read fiction, and people who read fiction are, in my book, winners all.

Second thing on my agenda: Yes, I am a woman named Clifford. I submit this photo as proof.



 Some of you may have seen my video rant a few years back concerning some readers’ reluctance to read a lesfic novel they thought was written by a man. (It will also give you the reason for my unusual name.) Apparently, the video didn’t work that well; I’m still getting emails from readers who confess they haven’t read me for years because they thought I was one of them. Which I get. I’ve had my mistrustful moments in regard to men writing about lesbians. Too often (notice I’m not saying always) they get it wrong, writing their own fantasies instead of stories that reflect the real deal. But honestly, with so many writers using nomme de plumes (a.k.a. pen names), unless you’ve done a little research, you can’t really be sure of a writer’s gender. Many publishers actually encourage their writers to write under a pen name of an opposite gender because they feel it will help sales. I tell you, the complexities of gender identification are getting more interesting by the minute. But then, like me, you’ve no doubt noticed that this younger generation doesn’t seem to hold the same biases we did, they don’t seem limited by the same restrictions. Shoot. The other day I was standing in line at our local bagelry and saw, among all the band and theater posters, a taped-up sign proclaiming in bold letters: GENDER IS DEAD! Or maybe you are of that younger generation. In which case I say, “Carry on. This world needs you.”

Now, onto the third thing: Victory Editions. Don’t know what that is? It’s Bold Strokes Books’ General Fiction imprint, or what I like to call their Mainstream Lesbian Fiction imprint. Doesn’t that have a snappy sound? What’s an imprint? Imprints are like categories, and most publishers have them. They help the reader find what they like to read. What you will find in BSB’s Victory Editions are lots of page turning stories about the lives of interesting, fun, troubled, triumphant, kick-ass, tender, thoughtful, old, young, and every kind of lesbian you can think up. Sometimes they feature a little romance, sometimes a little action, but always they always offer up a great read. You can spot them by the little logo on the spine of the book. Victory-Editions-sm? Me, I write what I call “the extraordinary lives of ordinary people” and I hope you will check one out. If you’re lucky, you might even win one.

” It’s like Being on a Trapeze…”

Just finished the first draft of my latest novel. Here’s a bit about the journey.

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An Interview with Karen Wolfer of Dog Ear Audio

by Clifford Henderson

Hey gang, June is audio book month! So I thought I’d take
a time out from my usual musing and interview one of my favorite women in the
business. Don’t know if you know this, but Dog Ear Audio, a company devoted to
put lesbian novels in the audio book market, produced the audio book of my
novel, “The Middle of Somewhere.” I narrated myself. It was a fun process and
turned out a great product. They’ve also produced novels by Bold Strokes
authors, K.I. Thompson, Catherine Friend, Kim Baldwin, and, you guessed it,
Radclyffe. What are they up to now? Read on.

Me: Why audio books?

Karen: Well, Cliffi, I’ve been a fan of lesbian fiction
for many, many years.  No need to go into exactly how many, but
with putting a lot of miles on my truck because of where I live and my job as a
solar installer, I was looking for something other than the radio to listen to
while on the road.  I searched on line for lesbian audio books, and could
not find any.

About the same time, my partner was building a soundbooth
for her video production company.

In one of those lightbulb moments, I realized this
professionally engineered soundbooth could be used for more than just
voice-over work.  Maybe we could record some of these books and fill a
niche that was not being given attention to.  Since then, I think my
partner has gotten in to use her own soundbooth twice for video work.  The
book recordings have kind of taken over.

Me: What projects are you working on

Karen: We just released our latest book, “Breaking
the Ice” written and narrated by Kim Baldwin, 
which is set in
Alaska.  When possible, we look, and listen, for authors who may have the
voice acting skills to record their own books.  I believe they know best
how they want a particular character to sound, where to place the inflection on
dialog, and what overall feeling they want a listener to take away with them
from the story.  The written word is fantastic in telling a story,
but hearing a story brings with it an entire new set of emotions and
connectivity between an author and their audience.

Audio books connect on such a personal level.  It is
one human relating to another human through the spoken word; the oldest form of
storytelling there is.  Emotions are shared on so many
levels—excitement, anger, love—are all enhanced hearing a human voice
give life to those feelings.  Even a silent pause, in the right place,
can convey more about what is happening in a scene than many, many words

“The Middle of Somewhere”, written and narrated
by a very talented woman, is a prime example of how hearing an author bring the
accents of a local population to life, greatly enhances the
story.  Whether it is the shady characteristics of one person,
or the adorable crush one character has for another, those human traits
are instantly captured in the tone of a skilled narrator.

Me: What projects do you see happening
in the future?

Karen: We have three more titles waiting impatiently on
our computers for editing.  By this, I mean sound editing, where we clean
up any extraneous noises that may have shown up, splice in re-takes, and then
go through an exhaustive listening process so we can correct anything else we may
have missed on the first go-round. All of our books are unabridged.

We recently signed an agreement with a download
distributor who will be getting us into the larger, mainstream distribution
networks like, eMusic, Simply Audiobooks, Spoken Network, and

I’ve always wanted to have our audiobooks
available in libraries across the country, so we will be taking a short
hiatus in recording additional titles, in order to establish those
connections with libraries. Having these wonderful stories available to
everyone is one of our goals.

Some women have sight problems, so we want to spend more
time letting them know we are here and that lesbian literature can be still
enjoyed even if the printed word does not work for them.

Me: Tell us a bit out your solar operation and why this
is important.

Karen: For the past 17 years, I have been a solar
(photovoltaic) installer for remote, off-grid homes. Our own home, including
all our computers, and especially the coffemaker, are powered with energy
captured from the sun.  Because our sound files are so precious, we trust
the reliability of our own power over anything that could come from the
grid.  It is better, cleaner energy.

We live in such an amazingly beautiful state, with
those legendary cobalt blue skies, that we like to keep our carbon-footprint as
small as possible.

This summer I hope to make some renewable energy videos
to help educate folks on what solar energy can do, and then maybe my partner
can finally get to use her own soundbooth.

After that,
we will continue to produce lesbian audio books from,
for all who want to enjoy a good story while driving, walking, or just doing
the dishes.

Clifford Talks about her “Special Problem”

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