Sunday Lowdown #145


As we roll into the gift-giving season, I’m noticing advertisements for craft shows, which are often holiday themed and a bit tacky. But still, I go. This week, I attended an LGBTQ craft show and discovered a variety of goodness instead of Velcro bow ties for dogs! Here’s my swag:

That greenish rock key chain in the lower right and the cookie mix are from a place called Ten Thousand Villages (you may have one near you) that purchases goods from people in impoverished communities around the world trying to support themselves through economic development. Most artisans are women, disabled, and from developing countries. This weekend, the store had a sale, so we went and got more goods, including something that looks like deodorant but is made from bee wax and is doing wonders for my anxiety knee rash. AMAZING.

Something that I’ve been thinking about all week is why I started Grab the Lapels and what my mission was. What began as a place for me to review books by women became books by people who identify as women. I am not trans exclusive, nor have I ever been — transwomen are women — but I hadn’t thought about my language when I simply wrote “women.” Now that we’re all fully accustomed to Zoom life, I’m see folks add their pronouns to their Zoom name, e.g. Melanie (she/her). Even at the University of Notre Dame, people are including pronouns in their email signatures, which surprised me given Catholic attitudes toward the LGBTQ community.

I started Googling for stats on nonbinary writers. How often are they published? Are their stories being heard? I found a large study from the Williams Institute of ULCA of nonbinary adults in the U.S., published June of 2021. Here’s what I found: 1.2 million Americans identify as nonbinary. 68% of nonbinary people don’t have enough money to make ends meet. 51% describe serious mental health issues, and 39% have attempted suicide.

What do I take from this? Nonbinary people exist all around us, and they’re struggling to get the support they deserve. We often see people as human once we’ve heard their stories, and if I’m saying Grab the Lapels is binary (men vs. women), then I am excluding nonbinary writers from my platform. And that’s not okay, and I apologize that I did not take the time to think about this before. I’m going to have to do some rebranding, but that’s no big deal. It’s worth it. Tell me your thoughts on this topic in the comments!


Several of you noted that you plan to read Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman after seeing my review. I’m so glad! It’s a novella, so short and sweet, and it’s in the public domain. You can get a free copy on Project Gutenberg. My library had many copies to choose from and it also comes in e-book form.

There is only one thing I can say about my review of Beth Gilstrap’s collection, Deadheading: My baloney has a first name. It’s O-S-C-A-R.


Right away, I got a copy of With Her in Ourland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which is a direct sequel to Herland. Again, it was easy to procure a copy. At first, I wondered why these novellas weren’t one novel, but you’ll find out in my review on Tuesday.

Dear Valdemar readers, you thought we were on our last book of the year. But it turns out Mercedes Lackey keeps on writing them. You’ll be happy to know that my review of Spy, Spy Again on Thursday won’t be the last of the year!


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 203


  1. Bet On It looks fun!

    A thoughtful post on the non-binary issue. I think this is something many of us are becoming more aware of in the last couple of years. I look forward to reading your explorations and what kinds of changes you have in mind. I know that I want to read more non-binary authors. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how an author identifies. And maybe they don’t feel the need to share? They’re not obligated to, certainly. Maybe I should change to “read more stories with non-binary characters.”


    • If they’re still living, chances are they’ve identified their pronouns on social media or a website. As for someone from the past, I have to guess based on what’s written about them. I have a few authors whose books I bought when they identified as women and have since changed to they/them, which is interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your facts are dead-on, and I think that you should stay true to what you feel strongly about. You are so passionate about certain things and it is wonderful. I can not wait to see what you end up doing and how you go about rebranding. 🤗🤗🤗


  3. Publishers with out of copyright books also use out of copyright images for their covers, almost at random it seems to me, especially as in this case (Ourland) which is print on demand. I’ll read Herland and Ourland when I get the chance, on Kindle or on my laptop (which folds backwards like a tablet).


  4. A good point. The gal-dem collective came to mind here, as they publish work by what in my mind was female-identifying and non-binary people of colour but they now define as “gal-dem is a new media publication, committed to telling the stories of people of colour from marginalised genders.” They’re pretty cutting edge, so I would imagine that’s a form of words that works right now. reference:


  5. Loved you pic of your craft show haul. Looks like you did well. As you say these shows can be a mixed bunch.

    Re the nonbinary issue, this is such a complex issue. I’m involved in the Australian Women Writers Challenge, and this is an issue we haven’t formally confronted but we have been open to being inclusive rather than exclusive. However, this is something that the Stella Prize, which is a prize established in Australia ten years ago for women writers. As they became aware of this issue, they clarified eligibility for the prize, and it currently says this “The Stella Prize is open to books by women – cis, trans, and non-binary inclusive – who are either Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia at the time of entry.” It is complicated though, but if you want to support those who are marginalised/discriminated against because of their gender/sex then this makes sense doesn’t it..


    • Other than the Lambda Literary Awards, I can’t think of too many places where LGBTQ people are specifically celebrated with their own prize, which means they have an awfully limited piece of the pie. The Women’s Prize for Fiction out of the U.K. made a big stink over one of their writers being the first non-binary transgender author to receive a nomination. Akwaeke Emezi won’t submit any more books to the prize committee after being asked for their sex “as defined by law.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your craft show haul looks awesome – I love the funky colors of that bracelet, and what is that doughtnut? I’m so curious now.

    As for the re-branding of GTL, I don’t think you have to do a huge overhaul or anything – perhaps just stating that you will include non-binary writers as part of your umbrella of reviews? Women, trans women, people who identify as women, and non-binary writers! Ta-daa!!! Easy peasy, and this small change is more inclusive, but also exciting! I think we all need to look at and expand our definitions every once in a while, you certainly aren’t alone there.


  7. I admire your thoughtfulness about the goal of your blog and what you want it to be about. I think it’s great to always be considering how our actions inform the world around us and this sounds like a good, more inclusive step to take.

    I love Ten Thousand Villages! They have been one of my go-to places to buy gifts in the past.


    • Oh, yay! I’m glad you have a Ten Thousand Villages near you. It’s been there for ages, but to be honest, I thought from the outside it was one of those wildly expensive crafty stories for elderly ladies. It is not.

      As for non-binary authors: I was also thinking about a couple of years ago when there was a big stink around The Women’s Prize because they asked one of their authors who had been shortlisted to submit again the next year, but be sure to include their “sex as defined by law.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t have one locally but there are a couple in Vancouver and I usually make a point of trying to visit when I can.

        I remember hearing something about that with the Women’s Prize. I get that their mandate is to support female authors but it seems like they were in turn keeping out authors who are not always well highlighted.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Oooooo, I can’t wait to see what direction you go with your blog and I personally, think it’s a great idea. I never once thought that you were intentionally excluding people besides men, but then I had not really thought about it deeper either.
    Looks like you got a really fun variety of goodies at the craft show. 😀


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