This is my first novel. It was initially entitled Up (Sticky Press, 2002). It was reissued as Southland Auto Acres (Verbal Construction, 2010). The book was ranked among Autostraddle’s 100 Best Lesbian Fiction & Memoir Books of All Time in December 2012.
“It was a fun read — and I feel better-equipped for my next foray into car-buying!”
ABA Book Sense Staff Pick
“Deliciously, readers are clued into the secret world of used car sales…the hook makes for an entertaining story.”
Lambda Book Report
“Jones’ writing style is fresh, humorous and entertaining…. If you enjoy clever dialogue, funny turns of phrase, and a coming out plot that manages to be both wacky and reflective, then Up: A Novel will entertain you immensely.”
Midwest Book Review
“Becky’s grueling stints at the Auto Acres alternate with her desperate search for love…. If at times she appears to be merely a wounded adolescent, she is endearing enough to earn reader involvement.”
Rocky Mountain News
“Best of Denver: Best Novel About a Car Saleswoman”
“Few things in this novel turn out the way you’d expect, and that’s why I loved it. Each time I thought the author would get lazy and fall back on stereotypes, she turns the other direction. She consistently surprised me. The ending, in fact, is whatever you need it to be, and if I were writing an English paper about it, I could make a good case for about four alternatives. To me, that’s a good thing.”
The Liberty Press
“Up is a fun, engaging story…a great read.”
“Can our heroine extract herself from her newfound tangle of sex, deception, and shifting sexual orientation by abducting the willing yet hetero object of her desire in a gold BMW with a bashed-in side panel all during her shift at the dealership after having sex as an experiment with the office stud and a fight with her first lover’s lover at a poodle’s birthday party? All this and more with a “crowd down” (one-up) attitude at each turn!”
The Bloomsbury Review
Want to hear a story about failure? Many years ago, I submitted the manuscript for this novel to several gay, lesbian and feminist presses, and they all rejected it. Most memorably, I sent it to Naiad Press, the precursor of today’s Bella Books, and received a phone call from Barbara Grier. This was back in 1996 or ’97, I think, because I was living in West Hollywood. I knew that Barbara Grier was someone I should revere as a pillar of the lesbian community but I wasn’t sure why. (Now I know why, of course.)
Barbara told me that she had not read my manuscript herself, but her editors said it was appalling. Lesbians don’t want to read stories like mine, she explained, about irresponsible people doing irresponsible things. “Don’t throw yourself down a well,” she consoled, noting that I was a competent writer despite my crappy story. She was being nice, doing me a huge favor by urging me to abandon the manuscript.
Still, it hurt. It hurt as a rejection of my work. It hurt more as a rejection of my experience in the lesbian community, namely: women aren’t always kind to one another, and lesbian relationships can be dysfunctional and mean. I put the manuscript away. I moved to Denver. At the time, everyone in Denver was doing some sort of underfunded entrepreneurial start-up activity. I should do something, too, I thought. In 2002, I self-published the rejected manuscript as Up, a novel about car sales and love.
A wonderful person at Book Sense (remember Book Sense?) selected Up as a staff pick. The book received lots of good reviews, even from LGBT publications. I felt vindicated; my story resonated with at least some lesbians. Also, a distributor picked up the book. This was before print-on-demand and electronic publishing. It’s hard to imagine now what a pain distribution used to be. The distributor’s warehouse burned down along with most of the Up stock.
In 2010, I changed the title from Up to Southland Auto Acres, reissued it as a print-on-demand paperback.