Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Acorns in Austin!

Austin, Texas, November 8. Watch for The Acorn Stories: Second Edition in the iUniverse display, at the Texas Book Festival.

Lubbock, Texas, author Duane Simolke will appear at the 2003 Texas Book Festival ( in Austin, Texas. Exhibitors will have booths in a book fair southwest of the Capitol; there is no admission charge for that part of the festival.

Simolke’s publisher, iUniverse, will display various works in a booth there. Simolke will be at that booth to sign copies of his book The Acorn Stories: Second Edition, 9-10 am and 4-5 pm, on Saturday, November 8. The iUniverse booth is Booth #413, beside an information booth and near Colorado and 12th Street; it’s across the street from the Westgate Building.

The Acorn Stories, a collection of tales set in a fictional West Texas town, is Simolke’s best-known book, and iUniverse chose The Second Edition as part of its new “Editor’s Choice” series. That series focuses on books that show strong marketability and should appeal to a large audience.

Shortly after returning to Lubbock, Simolke will lead a discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writers and books. That discussion, called “Out in Writing,” will take place November 18, 7 PM, at St. John’s United Methodist Church, 1501 University Avenue, during a meeting of the local PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays).

Besides writing books, Simolke created Rainbow: Lubbock, the online guide for LGBTs in Lubbock. Visit http://DuaneSimolke.Com to read that, or to learn more about Simolke, his books, and his appearances.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Secrets and Scandals in West Texas

Part 1

Lawsuit seeks to let gay student club meet

Bruce Garrett Cartoon

Superintendent Who Blocked Gay Group Was Having Affair on School Property

E-mails doomed Lubbock superintendent

Secrets and Scandals in West Texas

Part 2

House OKs release of Tulia drug-bust prisoners

Constables face probe into possible illegal use of funds

Former Market Lubbock Inc. Employee Under Fire

Secrets and Scandals in West Texas

Part 3

Just released in a second edition, Duane Simolke’s collection The Acorn Stories involves secrets and scandals in the fictional West Texas town of Acorn. With a tone that ranges from light-hearted humor to barbed satire to sweet romance to devastating tragedy, The Acorn Stories offers a frank and sometimes troubling view of West Texas life. From a brilliant artist who can’t stay focused on everyday tasks to a closeted gay mayor who strikes out against his one-night stand, these characters get under the skin of readers everywhere.

Some people take exception to the sometimes scurrilous events Simolke chronicles in this collection of interrelated tales. However, Simolke points out that public scandals happen fairly often in West Texas (many of them involving elected officials), though they quickly find their way under the proverbial rug.

In the book’s concluding story, “Acorn Pie,” the eccentric businesswoman Aragon Carson sums up that sentiment while discussing her family background: “Those are all very ordinary events: life, death, reproduction. You probably expect to hear about those, but not much else. Now there’s lots of things that you’d think only go on in big cities, but think again. Those things just happen more quietly here.”

For the book’s second edition, Simolke found ways to polish up the language even more, adding more description and dialogue where needed. The other major differences are that the book is now available in hardcover—instead of just paperback—and that bookstores will receive a deeper discount that they can pass along to their readers. Starting in late October, Bookstores and libraries can order The Acorn Stories through Ingram Books or Baker & Taylor, while readers can order it at most local or online bookstore.

Simolke also edited and co-wrote the spin-off The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer, donating royalties to the American Cancer Society, a charity he trusts and admires. That second Acorn collection starts with characters and settings from The Acorn Stories, then introduces new characters and settings, concluding by bringing one of Acorn’s characters across America, the country that Acorn encapsulates.

With a major in English, Simolke graduated from Belmont University (B.A., 1989), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., 1991), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., 1996). Stein, Gender, Isolation, and Industrialism: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio was his doctoral dissertation at Tech.

He also wrote Holding Me Together: Essays and Poems and the science fiction epic Degranon. Readers can visit DuaneSimolke.Com to learn more about the author and his books, and to find related resources.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Out in Writing

(Lubbock, Texas) Using resources from
StoneWall Society and The Human Rights Campaign Foundation's National Coming Out Project, Duane Simolke will lead a discussion on lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) books and writers.

This event will occur in Lubbock, Texas, on Tuesday, November 18, 7 PM, as part of a PFLAG-Lubbock meeting. PFLAG-Lubbock meets at St. John's United Methodist Church, 15th Street & University Avenue, across the street from Texas Tech University. Contact: 806-799-5466. It is part of the international PFLAG Federation. PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays) provides advocacy, support, and education.

Simolke, author of The Acorn Stories and Degranon, will start by discussing his own experiences as an openly gay author. Then he will branch into other books and authors that he finds helpful in dealing with coming out and other LGBT issues.

Next, attendees will break into four smaller groups, each lead by at least one person who frequently reads LGBT-friendly books. They will discuss other books that interest them, in relation to the theme “Out in Writing.” The event will conclude with the results of these small group discussions, and with a brief/question answer session.

Simolke plans not to promote any official list of LGBT books, but rather to promote an overall awareness of LGBT books and the themes they explore, especially in relation to coming out and being out. He encourages attendees to bring pens and paper, so they can write down the names of authors and works discussed at the meeting.

Majoring in English, Simolke received degrees from Belmont University (B.A., 1989), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., 1991), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., 1996). Stein, Gender, Isolation, and Industrialism: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio was his doctoral dissertation at Tech. StoneWall Society gave him Pride in the Arts literary awards for his books The Acorn Stories, Degranon, and Holding Me Together.

Duane Simolke also edited and co-wrote the spin-off The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer, with all author and editor royalties going to cancer research. Simolke’s publisher, iUniverse, is releasing a revised second edition of The Acorn Stories as part of its Editor’s Choice series, in the fall of 2003.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Simolke Wins Another Pride in the Arts Award

Texas-based author Duane Simolke has received his third Pride in the Arts literary award from StoneWall Society (, a resource for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered artists. Simolke received the 2003 Imagination Award as author of the science fiction thriller Degranon.

Simolke was also honored recently by the LGBT resource website Antny’s Place ( He was the Poet of the Month there for both June and July of 2003.

Born in New Orleans on May 28, 1965, Simolke now lives in Lubbock, Texas. Majoring in English, he studied at Belmont University (B.A., 1989), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., 1991), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., 1996). He has always loved books and movies, especially science fiction and fantasy.

Simolke wrote the earliest drafts of Degranon during the 1980s, then revised it for its eventual release in 2002. Before Degranon’s publication, Simolke wrote and released three non-genre books: The Acorn Stories; New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio; and Holding Me Together: Essays and Poems.

Degranon was his first novel, and first work of science fiction. The Acorn Stories and Holding Me Together: Essays and Poems both received StoneWall Society Pride in the Arts awards in 2002.

While revising Degranon, Simolke edited and co-wrote The Acorn Gathering. That mainstream fiction anthology is a spin-off from The Acorn Stories, with all author and editor royalties going to fund cancer research.

The alternate universe Simolke created for Degranon features characters that his readers might think of as Native American, African American, Latino, Asian, or gay. In fact, white characters receive only passing references, while gays seem idealized.

Simolke uses his characters to explore gay themes, as well as wider themes of diversity, freedom, and violence.

Though primarily a high-concept adventure, Degranon challenges every reader’s views, perceptions, and prejudices. Everyone who reads it will find it disturbing at times, exciting at times, and ultimately optimistic. In fact, many people will interpret certain scenes, characters, and events in differing ways.

The prolific author already has the next decade or so planned out in terms of his books. He is co-writing a fantasy novel, polishing a second edition of The Acorn Stories, and developing ideas for two Degranon sequels.

Readers can visit http://DuaneSimolke.Com to learn more about Simolke and his award-winning books, or to find a variety of writing resources and LGBT resources. His site also includes Rainbow: Lubbock, a frequently updated online guide that he created in August 1997 for other gays in the West Texas city that he calls home.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Fund-raiser Captures America’s Racial Richness

By Duane Simolke

The Acorn Gathering gathers America’s people for a time of hope!

My fiction collection The Acorn Stories captured America’s racial diversity within a West Texas setting. My science fiction novel Degranon strictly used people of color for its characters.

The Acorn Gathering, a spin-off from The Acorn Stories, is a fund-raiser for cancer research, and it includes work by five other writers. Still, this new book also celebrates racial diversity.

Certain Native American tribes would gather acorns for use in medicine and foods. While many of them began gathering during the summer or fall, some tribes gathered acorns in winter, which is the premise behind the story I used to open the collection.

That story, “Finding Acorns in Winter,” blends together two narratives. One involves a Native American woman trying to encourage an elderly German woman who is recovering from breast cancer. The other involves the Native woman’s ancestor, finding acorns to keep her people from starving during a harsh winter.

Acorn gathering becomes a metaphor about helping people through the winters of their lives. That metaphor captures the book’s fund-raising goal.

Native American themes also appear in one of Bill Wetzel’s contributions to the collection. That story carries the rather long and unusual title “Nachos Are Green And Ducks Appear To Be Blue At Town Pump In Cut Bank, Montana.” Though looking through the eyes of an unscrupulous Indian, Wetzel focuses on the injustices of reservation life, and the problems that still confront young Native American men today.

Wetzel, a Blackfeet Indian, chose a simple love story for his other contribution. Timothy Morris Taylor also submitted a simple love story, with the possible complications of one character coming from a Catholic and Hispanic background, but the other coming from an Anglo and Baptist background.

Despite her residence in Damascus, Syria, Huda Orfali uses my Acorn, Texas, locations for one of her stories, placing the other two in places that could easily be in any town, or even some other country. The races of the characters are sometimes indefinite, in keeping with Orfali’s ability to capture universal longings, fears, and hopes. Texan Jan Chandler uses a sharp focus on a cast of two for both of her stories, but also captures universal themes with those characters. Shawna Chandler focuses on a Mexican family for her tragic and evocative story “The Flamenco Painter.”

I end the collection with “The Last Few And the First Few,” a story that finds a soldier and firefighter trying to repair his interracial relationship, his ties with his estranged father, and the lives that are disrupted by September 11. Despite the subject matter, it becomes an inspirational call for all Americans to bring hope to each other, returning the book to the theme of people “finding acorns” to help each other survive.

The stories deal with many other issues, of course including cancer. But those issues become common struggles that unite the racially diverse cast and show how they are ultimately more alike than different.

While helping with the fight against cancer, the other five authors have also helped me tap into the special sides of us that make us all human and make us all one.


The Acorn Stories.


Click here for acorn recipes and related Native American history.

The Acorn Gathering:
Writers Uniting Against Cancer

Monday, March 17, 2003

Press release: Science Fiction Novel Relates to Real Life

Even while science fiction fans enjoy the latest Star Trek and Star Wars projects, some of them are looking for a work of science fiction that more closely reflects their internal discord over the realities of modern life on Earth.

Many websites have started adding information about just such a work: Duane Simolke’s novel, Degranon. While incorporating familiar scifi concepts like time travel and space travel, this fast-paced adventure also explores many of the issues that Simolke’s readers face.

The character Taldra, for example, struggles with the fact that she must conceal her ability to see in color on Valchondria, a planet where most people only see in black and white. She can’t understand why oppressive laws force her to hide her differences or lie about her true nature. Gays and people of color can easily relate to Taldra’s situation, especially in a novel where all the characters are people of color, and some of them are gay.

However, anyone can relate to the book’s multi-angled exploration of religious themes. While one extremist group (the Maintainers) oppresses religious expression and other forms of individuality, the invading extremist group (the Degrans) wants to oppress in the name of God. Worse yet, factions within the planet Degranon slaughter each other over differing scriptural interpretations. Still, two of the novel’s most likable and heroic characters are devout priests.

Simolke hopes that this novel, like his books The Acorn Stories and Holding Me Together: Essays and Poems, will spark important discussions about individuality, faith, violence, oppression, and understanding. However, he mostly hopes that readers will enjoy his work.

Simolke also wrote the critical study New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio; wrote the preface to Ronald L. Donaghe’s best-selling gay novel Lance; and edited and co-wrote a fund-raiser for cancer research (The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer). StoneWall Society honored Simolke with two 2002 Pride in the Arts Awards. He is now co-writing a fantasy novel, The Return of Innocence, with fan fiction author Toni Davis.