Category Archives: updates

sold out! (more on the way soon)

So the publisher ran out of my book before it even came out. That means that the book sold around 1,000 copies before its official release day even arrived. This is a good thing, I keep reminding myself as I’m pushing the prepaid preorders out the door.

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As of May 17, if you ordered a copy from me on my website or gave me cash or sent in a check but haven’t received your book yet, don’t worry–I’ve got you covered and they are on the way. But if you told me you wanted a copy and didn’t already pay me, you might want to get over to Wallace to pick up a copy from one of our museums, retail shops, and a few food and drink places before they sell out as well…

I just sold out myself, but I think I will have some copies available at the reading Friday, since the publisher’s sales rep is dropping off the few he has left. I’m not sure how many at this point, since I’m prioritizing the prepaid orders.

We are waiting on the press now. I’m told more will be available the first week of June. For now, you can put your order in with me and I’ll put you on my list and it will be fulfilled in early June.

Here’s some press the book’s been getting from D.F. Oliveria, who writes the “Huckleberries” column on Idaho for the Spokesman-Review:

— Wallace native’s book pulls back curtain on Silver Valley sex trade
— Branstetter’s history of the Silver Valley sex trade makes debut
— Branstetter’s history of Silver Valley sex trade sells out

Here is a link to a review by Chanse Watson, who edits the Shoshone News-Press:

Book Review: Selling Sex in the Silver Valley

And here is a link to the Facebook Live interview I did with Wallace Brewing Company‘s Cathleen Ryan back in April (it’s almost 30 minutes).

Keep an eye on the blog for some more content in the future–local historian Mike Feiler found a cool old article interviewing Dolores and a few of the girls in 1973. I’m going to post most of that here soon. I’ll also post a transcript from my interview with Maggie McNeill (aka The Honest Courtesan) from back in 2015. Our talk didn’t make it into the book, but you’ll probably want to hear what she has to say…

To get on the backorder list for one or more signed copies from me,
you can use your credit card or PayPal below and I’ll ship them as soon as they come in!

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

You can also buy the ebook on Amazon here.

Thank you for supporting this project!

reading and signing events in wallace

I just wanted to spread the word on a few local reading and signing events coming up. My first event will be in the Wallace Brewing Company‘s tasting room on Bank Street, Friday, May 19 at 7 pm. Please join us for a reading, question and answer session, and signing/meet-and-greet. Plus, there will be delicious craft beer! [Update on 5/15/17: There will be a wheelchair-accessible event at 6 pm at the Wallace District Mining Museum on Thursday June 8–please encourage older readers to attend this event, or the one at the Sixth Street Melodrama I listed below.]

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There will also be an event on Wallace’s Founder’s Day, at the Sixth Street Melodrama, a building that used to be home to the Lux Rooms brothel upstairs. This reading will take place at 2:45 pm on June 24th, after the parade.  I’ll be the opening act for local writer and publisher, Tony Bamonte, who will be reading from his new book on Colonel Wallace.

The Fainting Goat A Wine Bar, one of my favorite restaurants here in town, will be hosting an event called “Dinner and a Book” on July 15, starting at 6:30 pm. We are going to have to take reservations for this one–call the Goat between 11:00 am and 7:30 pm to reserve your spot…

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I’m still working on setting up more events and I’ll update this site to announce them as they are finalized.

The interest and level of enthusiasm for this project have been humbling. If you would like your own signed copy from me, please click the “buy now” button on my website to pay with a credit/debit card or you can also PayPal me: findheatherlee at gmail.

*buy my book here!*

It’s finally here! My book,

Selling Sex in the Silver Valley: A Business Doing Pleasure,

is now available!

If you want a signed copy, they are $22.00. To order one or more using your credit card or PayPal, please click on the “Buy Now” button:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards
Thank you for supporting my work! Here is the front cover:

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And this is the back cover:

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reading at the wallace brewery—7:00 pm on jan 13, 2016

A week from today, I’ll be reading an excerpt from my work on the history of sex work in the Silver Valley! Please come join us at the Wallace Brewery (610 Bank St., Wallace, Idaho) on Wednesday, January 13, beginning at 7:00 pm.

Wallace Brothel Signs

I’m actually the opening act for the Idaho-raised author, Keith Lee Morris, who will be reading from his recently released novel, Travelers Rest, a surreal and time-bending story set in a fictionalized version of the town of Wallace. I just started reading it last night and I’m already hooked by his observations about the characters and chilled by his description of Wallace as a snowbound bermuda triangle.

Travelers Rest Cover Art

For anyone who hasn’t yet read Morris’s work, I highly recommend you also check out his earlier novel, The Dart League King, which is set in a fictionalized version of Sandpoint, Idaho.

This reading is going to enable a lot of opportunity for us to talk and hang out (and I think play darts and pool) afterward. PLUS, the Wallace Brewery has excellent beer at very reasonable prices (personally, I love their Vindicator IPA and Huckleberry Shandy).

Also of interest to readers of this blog, the theme of the Brewery is distinctly brothel-oriented, including lots of the old Playboy-style calendars Dolores Arnold used to give away as party favors. I’ll have copies of my DVD for sale (more on this in a couple of days!) and Morris should have copies of his books for sale that I’m sure he would be happy to sign. So if you’re local-ish, come down, enjoy a drink, and chat with us about Wallace portrayed in both fiction and nonfiction!

a business doing pleasure

So, lots of big developments lately…

I visited Dolores Arnold’s grave in Tacoma, Washington this week. She’s buried next to her mother, who died when she was six, and her sister, who died last fall. Here are pictures:
Jennie&DoloresDoloresGraveI felt sad and humbled when I got there and saw how small the grave marker is. It’s about the size of a book or iPad, understated for a woman who was the most famous and beloved madam in Wallace’s history. The grounds at the Calvary Cemetary were very well-kept. Standing there on the damp ground I could smell cut grass, wet dirt, and fallen leaves. Planes flew into and out of McChord Air Force Base just to the Southeast. Birds chirped. It tried to rain but eventually gave up.

Some of you might not have heard yet: this summer, I resigned from my job as a professor to move back to Wallace and focus most of my time on the book. It was a big decision and definitely the right one for me. Needless to say, access to primary sources was pretty tough when I lived 2,400 miles away in Virginia. It was also difficult to build face-to-face relationships with research participants from across the country. It’s been great to live back in the valley again. I just picked up a job that will allow me to work on the project a lot more and this week I’ve been working on a book proposal for publishers. Wish me luck!

You might have noticed some small changes with my site. My new web address is “ABusinessDoingPleasure.com” although findheatherlee.com still forwards to it for at least another year. I changed my domain name because I think I finally settled on a book title. I also formed my own company, so now I’m officially the manager at findheatherlee media, llc. That’s kind of exciting. Next comes a Facebook site for the project (stay tuned for the chance to win a prize for liking the page)…

I’ve also begun to advise the writing club at the jr./sr. high school. As a result (thanks to Val), I found out about this writing tracker-motivator app called Writeometer that is pretty cool. I love how you can set your deadline and then see how many words per day you need to write to get there. Or you can enter in the words per day and then hit the calculator button to see how many days it will take to complete the project.

And finally, after much written correspondence and a phone conversation with the folks at the FBI, I am happy to announce that they will be sending 950 pages worth of information about the 1991 raid. Most of that is a report for the prosecutors written by one of the special agents who was investigating the case. It was looking like I was going to have to pay a huge amount of money for the files (and Dean Cooper at the 1313 offered some really helpful support—thank you so much!) but after talking with a researcher at the FBI over the phone, I decided to reduce the request to 950 pages in order to speed the processing and limit the amount of information that would be heavily redacted. When I originally put in the FOIA request, I’d hoped to see the evidence they’d gathered for the trial, but the researcher said it had been “dispositioned,” which means that it was either destroyed or returned. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to checking out the agent’s report and will post an update as soon as it arrives.

Well, that’s about it for today. In the future, though, I’ve got a special post coming up. I’m trying out something a little different for this one. This summer, I met up with Seattle-based escort Maggie McNeill for a conversation about sex work. She writes a popular blog called The Honest Courtesan, and we met up a couple weeks before Amnesty International came out in support of decriminalizing sex work, a decision with which she agrees. The profession has received a lot of negative publicity in the meantime (people often conflate sex work with trafficking) and I think Maggie’s perspective balances things out a bit. I recorded our conversation and am trying to get it into podcast shape, but it was a long talk, so that may take me a bit longer. In the meantime, go check out her site and look forward to more here soon.