Gregorowicz (PG): What was your inspiration
to start Amazing Dreams Publishing?
Stevens (TS): I was inspired by my mentor, Patricia Nell Warren. My
work had been rejected by mainstream NYC publishers for many years. I was searching
for lesbian publishers and came upon Wildcat Press. It turned out that Patricia
Nell Warren owned Wildcat Press, and Patricia's novel "The Beauty Queen"
was the first gay-themed book I'd ever read when I was 15 years old. I contacted
Patricia about reviewing one of my novels. I always write about hard issues that
most other writers won't touch, like women becoming successful after experiencing
hard circumstances such as child abuse. Patricia was not accepting outside manuscripts
at that time, but she read some of my work and suggested I also write some non-fiction
books to get my point concerning how you can be a success even though you may
have gone through hard times in the past. This is how the book "How To Be
A Happy Lesbian: A Coming Out Guide" was born. Patricia also encouraged me
to take back the control of my own work and open my own company--the rest is herstory.
Cathy Wonder (KW):
The publishing company is all Tracey's idea and her baby. She has done an incredible
job of building the company into something to be proud of. It is more than a publishing
company, it is a lesbian community resource with many facets. The publishing company
is just a small part. There are free e-cards, a coming out support group, networking
groups, GLBT links, horoscopes, etc. Again, these are all Tracey's conceptualizations
of what she would have liked to have had available to her in her coming out process.
PG: What is/was your background prior
to starting this endeavor?
I had studied art and writing my whole life, but everyone kept telling me that
I would never make any money at it. I settled for a degree in Mechanical Engineering/Technical
Illustration. The technical illustration end took care of my need to create art,
but I found so much prejudice from men in my field, that I became a graphic/web
designer instead. I've always written stories since I was a little kid, and won
several awards in school, so writing and art are the things I love most--that
and working with animals--especially horses.
Professionally, I've worked in the same field for almost 16 years. I've worked
in-patient psychiatric, outpatient case management and therapy, emergency mental
health services in community mental health settings, outpatient private practice
and treatment of people charged with DWI's and possession charges. I've done individual
and group therapy as part of these settings. Prior to that I spent years as a
college student, getting both a BA and an MA doing work ranging from landscaping,
to Burger King, to student assistant, to secretary,
Have you experienced any challenges in your professional life because you are
TS: Yes! Many times
I've been fired from jobs and harassed into quitting because of my sexual orientation.
I even had a co-worker look right at me and say "We don't believe in you!"
meaning he and his church. I told him when he started paying my bills, I might
possibly care what he thought, but it would be really doubtful.
For the most part, my experiences have been very supportive and accepting
from co-workers and administrations. I have run into very little prejudice from
co-workers. My personal life is not germane to my professional life so I do not
bring this into a therapy session. The challenges I have had I can count on one
hand. I've been released from two jobs due to my coming out. In one instance I
worked in-patient and another was working in a private practice setting. Ironically,
the technique usually is just stop scheduling me for shifts, in the in-patient
case, and in the case of the out-patient private practice they just stopped scheduling
new clients for me. The last was not a job, in and of itself, but part of my job.
The agency I worked at assigned me to the local religious based homeless mission.
I did screenings for mental health issues and need for medications and need for
therapy and made the appropriate referrals. They also used the, "we don't
have anyone for you to screen", same old excuse. I found out from a friend
at another agency, that the mission had called them asking for someone to come
do what I had done. The mission had, just a few months before that, offered me
a full-time position doing that job when they got the funding, The mission told
my friend that one of the staff had gone out on the net and looked me up on the
net and found out about my sexual orientation. She was told that they just couldn't
have me there under the circumstances.
What keeps you going on the tough days?
The work I do in the Support For Lesbians Coming Out online group is really
important to me... that and the emails I receive from women worldwide. We posted
all the comments on the Amazing Dreams
Website, and whenever I feel as if the Internet World is pushing me over the edge,
I go online and read those comments. It totally puts what we are doing back into
perspective for me.
KW: What keeps
me going is knowing that a difference is being made in women's lives, whether
we see it or not. Yes, it's nice and a great experience to be able to witness
someone's "Ah-Ha" moment but, it is also knowing that work you do is
planting seeds and you may not be around to see them grow and bloom but knowing
that they will is just as rewarding.
What are your top three measures of success?
: I would say my biggest measure of success is if I feel in my heart that
I am doing what I am meant to do with my short time here on the Earth. This leads
to my second measure of success which is happiness in my own life, which leads
to my third measure of success which is love for everything around me--especially
Kathy and our animals.
KW: I'd say
my first is my happiness and knowing I am setting great boundaries for me and
sticking to them. If I don't take care of me I can't be there in a significant
way for anyone else. The second is allowing others to be in the space of where
they are, regardless of their relationship to me, in allowing them their process
and knowing that if they want me to be a part of that they will invite me in to
help (that holds true for Tracey, family and friends). The third is staying grounded
in who I am, being accepting and non-judgmental of myself or others (part of allowing
people their process) and feeling the love I have for others and accepting love
from those that I choose to have in my life, be that Tracey, family, friends and
PG: What is
the wildest success story you can imagine for Amazing Dreams Publishing's future?
TS: The wildest success story: hmmm,
I guess that would be that our company went so big that it would bring a positive
change in every woman's life worldwide. That means lesbian, bi, straight, trans
women, and all the people who love them. I'd love to see our books and website
make a huge difference in how happy women are in their lives, which in turn would
give them power to be who they truly are: Goddesses incarnate : )
Mine is close to Tracey's. It would be in knowing that we are helping any
woman learn to stand in her own power as a woman, human being, partner, mother,
etc. Learning to do that in all the roles that they have in their lives. None
of us do that all the time, like the old saying says, "under stress we regress".
The dream is to help women do that most of the time and to learn to stand in that
power even under stress.
What are your future plans for your company?
My dream since I first came out as a teenager has been to create a community
where women can live together and work together in a safe haven. So my biggest
plan is to have a huge 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. We are wanting to have cabins and camping areas
so that women can come and stay on the land and participate. 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.
KW: Pretty much
what Tracey said above. I'd love to do human potential type seminars, and help
people leave behind old patterns they have outgrown and need to release. I'd also
like to gear these seminars toward people realizing the strengths they have, and
the wondrous parts of themselves that they don't know are there.
What brings you the most joy personally or professionally?
TS: I have a lot of joy in my life.
Just sitting around with Kathy and watching our crazy animals do tricks in our
house--they bring so much joy and love into our lives. Spending time with my horse
would be another highlight of my life. Even though he can be a pesky stallion
sometimes, he brings me a lot of joy.
Personally, it isn't any different a picture than what Tracey paints. We
have two big dogs, five cats and a pigeon in the house. Tracey's horse is in training
elsewhere and thank goodness he doesn't live in the house. LOL They do more than
enough to keep us entertained. Or is that the other way around? Professionally
it is knowing that I can make a difference in people's lives by helping them to
see things in a different light.
Tell us more about Amazing Dreams Publishing and what is most unique about what
TS: We have over 2,000
free resources on our website. Along with our Support For Lesbians Coming Out
group, we also have 4 Regional Networking groups, and several more Networking
Groups for women in English speaking countries. The Networking Groups are for
friendship and meeting women in local geographic areas. For dating we have online
dating tips and links to dating websites that our members have suggested to us.
We also have online galleries set up for LGBT and LGBT Friendly artists, that
feature over 950 designs as free Ecards; the top 75 lesbian movie reviews; LGBT
News Feeds; LGBT Marriage Updates; "Out There" Lesbian Comic Strip;
Astroflash Lesbian Horoscopes; an online Flower Shop for lesbians; a coming out
section on our website that has over 100 resources; an online bookstore that features
our books and books from other publishers; links to lesbian and fantasy women
art prints and magnets, lesbian pride gear, and lesbian commitment and wedding
rings. We offer a lot on our website, and we are always looking for ways to offer
KW: The uniqueness of
our site is that no one else is doing what we are doing here. Tracey is the hands
on the reins with this. She designs the website--she's a Goddess of graphic design
and art. A true Renaissance woman. She designs, does art, and writes. She asks
for my input and feedback but, like I said earlier. If it weren't for her amazing
dreams, none of this would exist.
Tracey Stevens and Cathy Wonder
Co-authors of "Lesbian Sex Tips:
A Guide for Anyone Who
Wants to Bring Pleasure to the Woman She (Or He) Loves"
and "How To Be A Happy Lesbian: A Coming Out Guide"
provides over 1,000 free community services
for lesbian and bisexual women