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How To Be A Happy Lesbian for for Lesbian and Bisexual WomenPress Release
"How to be a Happy Lesbian: A Coming Out Guide" offered to women all over the world.

Author Contact:
Tracey Stevens and Cathy Wonder
Asheville, NC

As a community service for women coming out anywhere in the world, authors Tracey Stevens and Cathy Wonder are offering their book How To Be A Happy Lesbian: A Coming Out Guide as a downloadable 240 page Ebook.

Since the beginning of this service, the PDF has been downloaded over 2,000 times from women as far away as Australia, Sweden, Africa, and Iran, who happened to visit the Amazing Dreams Publishing website.

In a recent interview Stevens said "I decided to offer the coming out guide as an Ebook for women who are uncomfortable, or scared, to go in a bookstore and buy it. There are women living in countries where they can not buy a book like this because they could go to prison or even be executed! I really feel that this book needs to be available for any one in the world who needs it. There are no other books that cover all the topics that Kathy and I have, and everyone who has reviewed our book has said that it will benefit all lesbians, not just those who are coming out."

Interviews from other websites:
Artwork Interviews:
Artist creates works to combat prejudice
Stevens combines spirituality, environmentalism in artwork

Free Publication Interview
with Author and Founder of
Amazing Dreams Publishing, Tracey Stevens:

NOTE TO EDITORS: The full interview shown below is available for use in your publication. You may use all or part of the interview free of charge, as long as quotes are not used out of context so that the meaning is changed. In return, Amazing Dreams Publishing would appreciate copies of the printed version, or links to the website page, where the interview will appear.

Author photos in different sizes and resolutions are available for download. If you need something that is not available in our press area, please Contact Us, and we will do our best to supply whatever you may need.

Information listed below:
Interview Contacts:
Tracey Stevens and Cathy Wonder

Interview with Tracey Stevens
Author of lesbian fiction and nonfiction titles

Interviewer (I): Your book How To Be a Happy Lesbian: A Coming Out Guide has been a tremendous success. Did you have any idea it would be so well-received?

Tracey Stevens (TS): I knew there was a real need out there for this kind of book, but I had no idea I’d be getting such wonderful reviews and emails from places like Pakistan, and Iran, and Africa.

What made you decide to write the book?

I had written several novels, and I had tried to include helpful information and get points across in them in a fictional way, but then my mentor, Patricia Nell Warren, said, "Why don’t you write a nonfiction book about how to be a healthy lesbian to get your message across?"

Warren is a fiction writer. . .

That’s right. She’s been hugely successful with her novels since back in the ’70s, beginning with The Front Runner. I have to give her a tremendous amount of credit for not only encouraging me to write the coming out guide, but also for her support. She is a very giving person, which isn’t always the case with authors who’ve had as much success as she has.

I: She’s certainly complimentary in her comments on your book cover. She says "This (book) could be called The Lesbian Encyclopedia...." So you’ve included a lot more than just tips on "coming out" in it.

TS: I spent over a year doing research for the book, and I just found so much information I thought would be helpful. I wanted to include as much as I could, in addition to writing about my own experiences. Patricia encouraged me to share information about my own life with readers, too, and I did. I didn’t want it to be a dry "clinical" book.

I: Was it difficult to divulge that very personal information?

TS: I fought it for a long time. I guess I didn’t want to expose myself in that way. To actually write about myself was sort of scary.

I: You’d be, in essence, "coming out" yourself.

TS: Well, I had been out for years, but not in print like that to the world.

How did you overcome your fear?

TS: I started thinking about what kind of nonfiction book I would have wanted when I was coming out, and I thought about what I could do that would really help a lot of people. I realized that just by sharing my own personal experiences, sort of like a "big sister," I could reach a lot of women who are going through what I went through. . . What most lesbians probably go through at some point.

I also asked my partner, Cathy Wonder, if she would be willing to write some chapters from her perspective as a professional counselor, which she did. She wrote the chapters on communications (in relationships) and on counseling. A lot of women when they first come out have no support system and end up going into therapy— I did— and I wanted them to know what to expect.

I: What is Kathy’s background?

TS: She’s a licensed professional counselor; she’s been working in the mental health field for thirteen years. We’ve gotten great feedback on her chapters. She even included information for therapists who may want to work with gay people but haven’t had much experience with them.

I: I know you turned 40 just a few weeks after finishing the book. How long had you known you were gay?

TS: Well, I had known since I was very young, but I actually put a label on it at 15.

I: So you’d been "out" yourself for 25 years when you wrote the coming out guide?

TS: I’d been out to my friends and people close to me since I was about 18; but I had been out to people at work—and employers—for 7 or 8 years.

I: And did you encounter problems in the "working world?" Were you ever discriminated against because you are a lesbian?

TS: Yes. I was fired several times when my employers found out I was gay. With one where I had worked for three years— I was head buyer for a store in Florida— I was up for a promotion and they fired me when they found out I was gay. Later, I made sure that my employers knew ahead of time, before I ever took a job, and that they were OK with it.

I: I imagine it’s hard to counsel your readers to come out when you know they may face the same kinds of problems.

TS: In the book I don’t "tell" women to come out. That’s a decision they have to make on their own, weighing whether it’s harder to live a lie than face these issues. My goal with the book is to help women who do come out to find support, to steer them toward finding it and to living a happy life in spite of the problems.

I: Who did you have in mind as your "target audience" as you were writing the book?

TS: Originally I was thinking about older women who were having problems in their sex life, but then as it grew into this coming out guide, I was thinking more about the 16- to 25-year-old range. Now a lot of the reviewers have said it’s helpful for all ages, for women in and out of the closet. My guess is a lot of different age women are buying it. But I don’t have any way to track that.

You know, at first I was going to just write a sex guide.

I: A book on how to have satisfying lesbian sex?

TS: Well. . .Sort of a "how to make love to a woman" handbook. I had a background of sexual abuse and I’d been struggling with issues surrounding sex for years because of it. So when I was younger I read everything I could get my hands on--about sexuality--to try to understand what happened to me. In the process I learned a lot about technique. You know, if you go to an incest group you’ll find out that a lot of these women are "good at sex." We’ve been driven to know more about it to try to make sense out of what happened to us.

Anyway, I wanted to help women come to grips with their own sexuality and help them deal with problems I’d worked through. But then, as I started doing research for the book I realized there was so much more information I could share with readers. So the book grew. For example, I have a section on famous gay and bi women. We need role models. I had no idea until I got into the research how many famous people are--or were--gay or lesbian. I thought it would empower people to know about them; it empowered me.

I: You included a big section on movies as well. Why?

TS: Movies are such a huge thing in our lives, and we look for role models in movies. When I did research I found that there were mostly negative images of gays and lesbians in Hollywood movies. It was really disturbing. For years we were portrayed as drug addicts and criminals and perverts. And we died at the end every time. Often it was: Lesbian attacks straight woman and then pays for it with her life! Fortunately, that’s beginning to change; it’s getting better. I list more than 50 movies in the book, along with short reviews, that are available on DVD now; a lot of them are very good.

When you finished the book did you approach traditional publishers with it?

TS: I did, but I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t want to publish it. Before I ever wrote the coming out guide, I’d written several novels with lesbian characters. For ten years, I’d tried to get them published but was turned down.

I: Do you think it was the lesbian subject matter?

TS: Sometimes yes, but not always. I found that the smaller publishers who didn’t object to the subject matter were struggling financially and were just afraid to take a chance on a new writer. I did get very positive feedback from several of the women’s publishing companies; they were just scared to take the risk for financial reasons. But most of the big houses, the "big boys," were just saying "no way."

I: Because of the subject matter?

TS: Right. I went through those years of rejections feeling really defeated but I didn’t want to totally give up. Then when I came into contact with Patricia Nell Warren, she encouraged me to start my own publishing company. She had bought back the rights to her books from the big publisher she was with originally, and she started Wildcat Press, her own company. She said, "Tracey, publish your own books. You have no control over your own work when someone else is handling it."

I: So you launched Amazing Dreams Publishing.

TS: Yes, and it was tough. I was a full-time graphic designer at a book distributor, and between my job and the publishing company, I was working 60- to 80-hour weeks. Fortunately, now I work totally for myself.

I: Writing and running the publishing company?

TS: And AD Graphic Design. I’m a graphic designer and book designer. So, you know, when Patricia said I should publish my books myself, it made sense. I had the background to do it.

I: This all sounds too good. . . Is there a downside anywhere? For instance, have you gotten any hate mail about the book?

TS: The feedback has been positive. I’ve gotten lots of personal emails from women thanking me and telling me how the book has helped them in some way.

I: And you now have an online support group from this book?

TS: Yes--with over 850 members from all over the world. When I have someone living in Iran email me that they are glad we have a website and books that support them, because they could be killed for coming out as a lesbian in their country, it makes me know that I am finally doing what I am supposed to on the earth. The Internet is an amazing tool, helping people to reach out when they need to feel support or find information to help them in their lives.

So how did the support group come about?

The coming out guide was written primarily for young women who were coming out, but women of all ages, and from all parts of the world, were buying the book both printed and in Ebook form--I think the Ebook has been downloaded around 2,500 times. After it had been available for a few months, I had one woman email me that she really loved the book, but she felt there were issues that were not covered in it, such as women who are married with kids and finding out later in life that they are lesbian.

I agreed with her. The book was written for everyone, but it dealt with more issues single women who are just coming out would have, so I decided to start the support group to help with a need that had not been met in the book. I had no idea that there were so many women who were in her same situation, and I guess this woman emailing me was a pretty important thing, because over two-thirds of our members are, or have been, married to men and many have kids. I would have never thought this in a million years, but it's amazing how things work out for the best, and I do believe that this support group is the most important thing I have done in my life so far.


TS: Yes. We have saved several members from suicide, and we have some members who live in countries where being lesbian could get you imprisoned or even executed, so the group has developed into an amazing place of support and friendship. We have many members who live in rural communities with little or no education, and we are providing them with the support they need to make changes in their lives.

I: Do bisexual or women just questioning their sexuality join?

TS: Of course. I don't care if a woman is lesbian, bi, straight, or whatever. If she feels she needs help coping with her sexual orientation, we are there for her. I have said many times that if a person joins and decides she is straight that is fine with me. I just want everyone to be happy in their lives, no matter what they may be, and that goes for straight women and men too.

I: Speaking of which, I understand that you've done a spin-off book that includes just the sex tips?

TS: Yes, not long after the coming out guide was published I produced a second smaller book called "Lesbian Sex Tips: A Guide for Anyone Who Wants To Bring Pleasure to the Woman She (Or He) Loves." I rewrote the material for men and women because I've met a lot of straight women who are dissatisfied with their sex life, and a lot of men who say they have no idea how to please a woman. They don't know anything about a woman's body.

I guess because I'm a lesbian a number of men have felt safe asking me about this. Men have actually asked me, "How do you do it?" And they've asked me for tips on how to satisfy a woman. So it's really written for straight and lesbian or bisexual people. And it's not just a "how to do it" handbook. There's a section on safer sex, which is so important today with AIDS and the high number of cases of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) in both the straight and gay populations. We included Kathy's chapters on therapy and communication in relationships, too.

People can purchase the Ebook from our website, That version is in a package deal that includes several other Ebooks, including two with over 100 sensual illustrations each.

I: I noticed on your website that you're also offering free Ecards for women. What made you decide to do that?

TS: I'm sure you've heard straight people complain about not being able to find good greeting cards. Well, you can imagine how hard it is for gay people. I got the idea to offer a line of Ecards for lesbians when I couldn't find a decent card to send to Kathy on our anniversary. I wanted to send her an Ecard at work and there was nothing appropriate out there. The only ones I found were pornographic. There was a real need to have decent Ecards for women.

I started out with Ecards I designed, and we now have a huge whole gallery with over 1,500 Ecards from over 30 artists. Each artist has fifteen to twenty designs of their work, a web page about them and how they create their art, and a link to their own website or online store if they have one.

I: Do you have to be a lesbian artist to be in the Ecard gallery?

TS: No. Any good, open-minded, artist can join. The only requirement is that the artist can not be homophobic, and we will not feature artwork that is pornographic.

How many people are using the Ecard site?

TS: The first month the gallery was online, we had over 11,000 hits to it, and now we get over two million hits from over 150,000 people a month! Lots of people use it. Straight men are even using the site to send cards to their wives and girlfriends.

I: What other products or services does Amazing Dreams Publishing offer?

TS: We also feature a Coming Out section on our website that lists over 100 online resources, the top 100 lesbian movie reviews, the daily LGBT news headlines, a lesbian pride store, advice on lesbian online dating, and regional lesbian networking groups.

In the future, I'm hoping to be able to publish other quality books by women. We're not quite ready for that step at this point. But I do help authors who want to self-publish. Print on demand, POD, is a great way for them to go if they want to get their books out there, if they've been turned down by traditional publishers.

I: You seem to have mapped out your company's future. . . What about personal goals?

TS: My dream since I was very young has been to create a community where women can live together and work together in a safe haven. So my biggest goal is to have a large tract of land somewhere here in the mountains of North Carolina where Kathy and I can have a conference center that offers all kinds of workshops and seminars. . . Writing conferences, relationship seminars--Kathy can offer counseling services. Another thing: I'm very much into horses; I've
had horses all my life, and at some point I want to incorporate my knowledge of horses and provide therapeutic programs for people who've been abused.

I: Therapeutic how?

TS: When I was little the only thing that saved my life was my horse. I was a small person who was able to ride on a very large, powerful animal. He gave me so much strength that I made it through those years of being abused. When I was on him, I felt safe.

Children who're abused, especially physically or sexually, feel out of control of their environment--which they are. But if you put a child like that with a horse in a ring and the control that huge animal's movements--and they learn to communicate with horses on that level--it's an amazing and profound thing that happens. The experience is incredibly helpful in building these kids' self-esteem. Horses are great therapists.

I: Sounds like you're going to be busy—writing, running a publishing company, a graphic design business, a retreat center, a therapeutic horse program. . .

TS: I know I'll be juggling a lot for a while, but if building the community pans out, I will probably scale down the graphic design business. I think my real purpose in life is to help people. I think I experienced abuse as a child so that I could eventually help other people who've gone through it. I think that's why I'm here.

And I know I won't stop writing. We're bringing out two of my novels over the next year--"Chalice of the Goddess," a romance set in England in the 1300s, and a thriller/serial killer book, which we are still deciding on a title for that one. Kathy and I are also working on another self-help book on lesbian relationships.

I: And are the main characters in the novels lesbians?

TS: Of course!!

Interviewer Bio:
Susan Snowden is a professional journalist and book editor based in western North Carolina. During her career she has interviewed numerous authors, including Tennessee Williams, James Dickey, Olive Ann Burns, William Price Fox, Dr. Lee Salk, and others.

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