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Building the LGBTQI community by building apps

In 2012, Marie Davis and Margaret Hultz of Wickedly Sisters launched Spoon and the Moon, the first interactive book app written for adults containing clever animations, and a hot soundtrack by musicians from Europe and North America all woven through a dark, magical storyline. Hopefully, for Margaret, this will help pave the way for “more folks out of our LGBTQI community building apps. It is a great field and pretty wide open.”

LGBTQI app

In 2012, Marie Davis and Margaret Hultz of Wickedly Sisters launched Spoon and the Moon, which is a “whimsical, adult fairytale” cum “app unlike anything you have ever seen before”, said Margaret. Spoon and the Moon is actually “the first interactive book app written for adults containing clever animations, and a hot soundtrack by musicians from Europe and North America all woven through a dark, magical storyline. Of course, there are all sorts of interactive components, and as a team we decided to make them ‘Easter Eggs’ — treats and morsels that are found by hunting. So go ahead poke, prod and drag your fingers all over our pages, you will often find surprises.”

Wickedly SistersSpoon and the Moon is a product of friendship.

Margaret first met Marie while she was singing the song “Margaritaville.” “She looked pretty nervous, and for some reason I jumped out of my chair and joined Marie onstage. I’ve been a musician my entire life and getting up and singing was kind of second nature to me. Yes, Marie and I sang a duet before we ever said hello,” she recalled. “Later that evening, during our conversation I asked Marie: ‘What do you do?’ She explained that she did an educational cartoon strip for middle school children based on our Kentucky’s multicultural history. Yes, history, a topic that Marie later told me caused most people to begin to tune her out. But not me, I immediately said, ‘Cool! I love history.’”

Days later, Margaret over to see Marie’s cartoons and noticed a bit of rotten spelling problems that slid by spell check. “So you can say that Wickedly Sisters began because of what Marie says are her personal failings: poor singing and poor spelling,” Margaret smiled. “I don’t agree so much with the singing part, but the spelling …”

Right away “we were a hit. We expanded the strip to include some statewide travelling history projects, wrote on the topic for media outlets, won various grants and awards, and even wore a mascot suit in parades.”

Margaret had several back surgeries over the years, and unfortunately, the last procedure left her with a stubborn staph (MRSA) infection in the spine. “Usually, three out of five succumb to this particular bug. Marie and I didn’t know at the time that I was close to dying. Nonetheless, we recognized that the circumstances were grave,” Margaret recalled. But “when things get bad, we get laughing. Marie began writing vignettes and calling me in the evenings. She wrote short stories about a psychic spoon, a lactose-intolerant cow, a dog delighting in schadenfreude, a two-fingered hero, a fanciful drag queen, and a lesbian named Lil, longing for love. (As Marie said then) ‘Lil was a perfect lesbian; even her name was perfect. Lil, Lil, LilLilLilLilLilLilLil. Say her name over and over again on just the right spot and you’ve mastered a secret in lesbian love making.’”

When Margaret was finally healed, “we realized… that we had the makings for an entire novel, so we finished it up and sent it out to a few different publishers. It wasn’t too long before we received a response from one publisher who thought that our story would make a great app,” Margaret said.

The first question they asked each other was: “What’s an app?”

But they also asked each other, “If a publisher can make our book into an app, why can’t we?” “And so we put on our thinking caps and got to work. It took about a year to put everything together. Marie’s beautiful artwork enhanced our novel and then we found fantastic music and sound effects that brought our work to a new level. However, what most drew us to the app-making medium was the fact that we wanted each page of our book to be a piece of art,” Margaret said.

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The app, Spoon and the Moon, was officially launched in January 2012. It can be purchased on Amazon Appstore for .99 cents or through Apples iBookstore for $3.99. And while – due to developer contracts – “we are not allowed to give out any details of our sales, but we can say that our app has won many awards,” Margaret said.

These awards include an international, gold medal from the eLit Award for Illuminating Digital Publishing Excellence; runner-up in the Best App Ever contest; and the prestigious IndieReader Discovery Award in 2013. “We were also very excited when IndieReader picked Spoon and the Moon in January 2014 as one of the Top Indie Books of 2013.”

The biggest challenge that Wickedly Sisters faced is getting the word out. “Because we are a small company, we do not have the resources that many of the larger app production companies have,” Margaret said. “But we are learning as we go along how best to market to the LGBTIQ community. And word-of-mouth seems to always be one of the best ways. When we started out there really weren’t many lesbian app builders out there, of course that seems to be changing. The apps that used the word ‘lesbian’ were not necessarily written by lesbians, but mainly by straight men. We bought many of those early apps and we were pretty disgusted by most, I have to say. It was also difficult to get through some of the approval procedures from different appstores because of our content, which to us seemed fairly tame. It seemed that the appstores were very tentative about releasing books like ours. I think that has changed a little as well, or at least I hope it has.”

For Margaret, “I would love to see more folks out of our LGBTQI community building apps. It is a great field and pretty wide open. Apple’s iBooks program is quite easy to use; it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the more complex programs, but is certainly a great way for beginners to get their media out there. Authors, artists and musicians can all promote their work using the app format. Marie and I are also beginning to build apps for other writers and websites, so we are always happy to hear someone’s idea for an app as well.”

The next Wickedly Sisters app, titled “Pocket Murder”, is a murder mystery where most of the action takes place within a closet. “A serial killer’s ‘trophies’ hanging in the hallway closet are plotting against the insidious female murderer, but exactly how are pieces of clothing and personal accessories going to stop the next murder? You’d be surprised!” Margaret said.

But for now, there’s Spoon and the Moon.

For more information, visit www.spoon-and-the-moon.com.
Spoon and the Moon is instantly available in the Amazon Appstore for your Android Tablet or Kindle Fire.

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