Category Archives: Around the Blogosqueer

Introducing Amble Press, an LGBTQ Imprint of Bywater Books!

Last week, we revealed the cover of Michael Nava’s newest Henry Rios book, Lies With Man, and today, he’s back to talk about the imprint publishing that book, Amble Press! Amble Press is a new LGBTQ imprint of Bywater Books, noted lesbian publisher of such titles as Jericho by Ann McMan, I Can’t Think Straight by Shamim Sarif, Compass Rose by Anna Burke, and Bury Me When I’m Dead by Cheryl A. Head. Now they’re going beyond the L, and as Managing Editor, Michael Nava’s here to talk about how it began, what’s coming up, and what they’re looking for!

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Michael Nava

Independent presses have been the life-blood of LGBTQ literary culture for decades. Scrappy small presses in the 70’s and 80’s published the first works of Rita Mae Brown, Dorothy Allison and Alison Bechdel, as well as trailblazing Black and Latinx writers like Larry Duplechan, James Earl Hardy, Jewelle Gomez, Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua. Firebrand Books published Stone Butch Blues, a pioneering work of work of trans literature and Alyson Publications dared to publish gay and lesbian childrens’ books – most notably Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman – at a time when gay people were demonized a pedophiles who recruited children into their ranks.

These presses existed because, by and large, New York publishers were hostile to queer writers even though it was an open secret that there were gay and lesbian editors at those big publishing houses. My own experience is instructive: in 1986, I submitted my first novel, a mystery featuring a gay, Mexican-American criminal defense lawyer named Henry Rios, to 13 New York publishers. It was rejected by every one of them. The editors who responded with more than a form letter rejection said essentially the same thing: this is a well-written book, but there’s no market for it. I found a home at Alyson Publications, which was then the preeminent small gay publisher. (Eventually, I would be published first by HarperCollins and then by Putnam until, in 2000, I began a fifteen-year break from writing and publishing.)

Small queer presses continue to be an essential part of our literary landscape because they remain necessary. Although the Big Publishers roll out the occasional LGBTQ book, queer writers, like writers from other traditionally marginalized still have a harder time getting their books published by an the increasing cautious and profit-driven mainstream publishing industry. A quick Google search reveals there are many small queer presses and to those already existing ones I want to introduce Amble Press, an imprint of Bywater Books, where I serve as managing editor.

Bywater Books is a respected lesbian press founded in 2004 that boasts among its award-winning roster of writers Cheryl Head, Ann McMan, Paula Martinac, Penny Micklebury and many more. In 2018, the Bywater’s leadership, publisher Salem West and director of operations, Marianne K. Martin, decided they wanted to start a new imprint that would expand their reach behind the lesbian community to other queer writers, and especially writers of color. They named the imprint Amble Press and their first acquisition was Alan E. Rose’s novel As If Death Summoned, a moving novel set in the last days of the worst of AIDS epidemic which reviewer Grady Harp calls “a beautiful, involving novel,” and about which Jerry Wheeler says in Out In Print “I couldn’t put it down.”

I was tapped as Amble’s managing editor last spring because of my interest in giving back to the queer literary community the same boost I had received when I was a young, emerging writer. Part of the agreement was that Amble would publish the next Henry Rios novel, Lies With Man, which appears in April. My first acquisitions will be published in the summer of 2021; Matthew Clark Davison’s debut novel Doubting Thomas in June, 2021 and Joe Okonkwo’s collection of short stories, Kiss the Scar on the Back of My Neck in August.

These books illustrate the great range of excellent queer writing out in the world that is not finding homes in the risk-averse culture of Big Publishing. Neither Davison nor Okonkwo are first-time, inexperienced writers. Davison teaches in the creative writing department of San Francisco State University, has published widely in places like Guernica and The Atlantic and anthologies like Empty the Pews and is the recipient of a number of literary awards and grants. But even with this pedigree and a literary agent, he struggled to find a publisher for his first novel about a gay teacher at an elite, private school falsely accused of inappropriately touching one of his students and its aftermath. Okonkwo’s first novel Jazz Moon, won the Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White Award for outstanding first novel and he too was represented by a distinguished literary agent for his superb collection of short stories.

Thirty years ago, both these writers may well have found homes with one of the big publishers. Of course, big publishing’s loss in Amble’s gain and, ultimately, also benefits queer readers who might otherwise be deprived of the work of these brilliant writers.

Amble Press is currently accepting submissions and is, as I said, particularly interested in queer writers of color. You can see our submissions information at https://www.bywaterbooks.com/amble_press_submissions/

Black History Month 2021

This is an annual feature that runs a little differently from the rest on LGBTQReads, as the post builds on itself each year and new titles/sections are added with asterisks. These books are all queer titles by Black authors, the vast majority of which star Black main characters. (Obviously this isn’t remotely exhaustive.)

Sites

Sistahs on the ShelfSotS is run by Rena, a Black lesbian who reviews Black lesbian books. You can also follow on Twitter at @SotS!

WoC in Romance – this is a site highlighting all Romance written by WoC, but there’s a page just for LGBTQ Romances. It’s run by Rebekah Weatherspoon, whose name you may recognize as being a prolific author of LGBTQ lit herself! You can follow on Twitter at @WOCInRomance, and make sure you check out their Patreon; link is in the pinned tweet!

Black Lesbian Literary Collective – To nab from their site, “The Black Lesbian Literary Collective creates a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers.” Looking for more reviews of Black lesbian fic? Ta da! The site is new, so it’s not packed with posts just yet, but there is already an active radio show linked to it. Find them on Twitter at @LezWriters.

The Brown Bookshelf – this is a site dedicated to Black kidlit; here are the posts that come up if you search LGBT.

Books

*=new additions this year

Picture Books

  • My Rainbow by DeShanna and Trinity Neal*

Middle-Grade

Young Adult

NA/Adult (Realistic)

NA/Adult (Speculative)

Comics/Graphic Novels*

Memoirs

Poetry

Featured Authors

Posts

Have more to share? Add them in the comments!

Black History Month 2020

This is an annual feature that runs a little differently from the rest on LGBTQReads, as the post builds on itself each year and new titles/sections are added with asterisks. These books are all queer titles by Black authors, the vast majority of which star Black main characters. (Obviously this isn’t remotely exhaustive.)

Sites

Sistahs on the ShelfSotS is run by Rena, a Black lesbian who reviews Black lesbian books. You can also follow on Twitter at @SotS!

WoC in Romance – this is a site highlighting all Romance written by WoC, but there’s a page just for LGBTQ Romances. It’s run by Rebekah Weatherspoon, whose name you may recognize as being a prolific author of LGBTQ lit herself! You can follow on Twitter at @WOCInRomance, and make sure you check out their Patreon; link is in the pinned tweet!

Black Lesbian Literary Collective – To nab from their site, “The Black Lesbian Literary Collective creates a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers.” Looking for more reviews of Black lesbian fic? Ta da! The site is new, so it’s not packed with posts just yet, but there is already an active radio show linked to it. Find them on Twitter at @LezWriters.

The Brown Bookshelf – this is a site dedicated to Black kidlit; here are the posts that come up if you search LGBT.

Books

*=new additions this year

Middle-Grade

Young Adult

NA/Adult Contemporary

NA/Adult (Speculative)

Comics/Graphic Novels*

Memoirs*

Poetry*

Featured Authors

Discussion Posts

Have more to share? Add them in the comments!

We’re Here! We Read! And We’ve Got a Book-a-Month Calendar for Charity! (a Guest Post by Greg Wagnon)

I love books. I love calendars. And I love Lucie’s Place, the only LGBTQ-specific shelter in the state of Arkansas. So when Greg Wagnon of the LGBTQIA+ book club We’re Here! We Read! Get Used To It! approached me to ask about spreading the word of the new bookish calendar they’ve created that features artistic representations of their book club choices, I was dying to know more!

Over seventy-five people, companies, and organizations came together to create this 8.5″ x 11″ calendar, which “features some fierce models, drag queens/kings, and a mermaid” and a dozen original art pieces! I asked Greg to tell us a little more about the books chosen, and you can take a look at the calendar in the link below! 

The pre-sale for the calendar lasts until November 29th, and calendars will then be printed and shipped out the first week of December, so check out the books featured and get your orders in now!

Take it away, Greg!

***

Looking for a good book suggestion? How about twelve!

We’re Here! We Read! Get Used To It! LGBTQIA+ Book Club has worked with twelve authors to bring you an exciting LGBT book-a-month calendar for 2020.

https://lgbtqiabookclub.com/calendar

Want to know the best part about this calendar? All proceeds from the sale of this calendar will go directly to Lucie’s Place, Arkansas’ only LGBTQ-specific shelter. Lucie’s Place provides LGBTQ young adults experiencing homelessness in Central Arkansas with safe living environments, job training, and counseling services in order to ensure lifelong stability and success. Lucie’s Place strives to promote equality and acceptance for LGBTQ young adults.

January features The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember. The Seafarer’s Kiss may be based on The Little Mermaid, but it is not the same old story under the sea. Ember crates a whole new tale filled with sorcery, betrayal, and F/F romance. Young mermaid Ersel is forced to choose between the community she has know her whole life and a chance at love with a woman from above. How far will Ersel go for this new romance, and will that path lead her to a happy ending? A quick, exciting read that you will surely enjoy.

February features The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden. M/M romance, trans inclusion, and killer robots in a world full of magic? Yes, please! This wildly imaginative debut novel by Nicky Drayden was a book club favorite. Set in future South Africa, an ancient being wants to wake up the magic in all of us. But are we ready? Follow a diverse cast of people as the converge and fight to save humanity in an explosive ending!

March features Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. Santa Olivia is hard to put in a box. It’s part romance, part superhero, part revenge tale set in a post apocalyptic border town. One thing you won’t be is bored. The book features  F/F romance and polyamorous relationship.

April features Othered by Randi Romo. Celebrate Poetry Month with the collection of poems by Randi Romo. Romo is a Latinx, queer woman, writer, artist, long-time activist and organizer. She has said that writing saved her life. You will feel that truth with every raw, honest word she shares. You will revel with her. You will grieve with her. You will survive with her.

May features The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka. The first book in Kristen’s award winning Roxane Weary series. Kristen creates a wonderful new heroine, that happens to be a badass bi private investigator. Roxane is a woman who finds things, but can she find a woman missing for fifteen years? Will Roxane’s drive to solve this mystery take her too far? This is a book you will not be able to put down. It has a highly satisfying end, but will leave you wanting more. Luckily, there are sequels!

June features The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. DanforthThe Miseducation of Cameron Post is a modern classic in queer literature. Go with Cam on her journey of discovery in a beautiful and heart breaking coming of age story. I think this quote says it all, “Maybe I still haven’t become me. I don’t know how you tell for sure when you finally have.”

July features White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig. This who-done-it story takes place over one long July Fourth night. Gay teen Rufus Holt and his ex-boyfriend land in the middle of a murder mystery when his sisters wakes up next to a dead body. The pair endeavor to interview all the possible suspects in this thrilling read that will having you guessing until the very end.

August features Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron. After Jaya’s mother passes away, angels begin to fall from the sky. What does it mean? And what would you do if you found an angel? This beautiful story is part magical realism, part E.T., and 100% amazing. This story has F/F multiracial romance and disability representation! Warning: The ending of this novel is so beautiful, it may make you cry.

September features Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block. Block brings a classic tale to a modern world in a reimagined Homer’s Odyssey. Block expertly adapts this story into a something fresh and new. This adventure book features a trans love story! The main complaint the book club had about this novel was it’s too short. It’s so good, we wanted more! We were thrilled to find out there is a sequel.

October features Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova. The first book in Zoraida’s Brooklyn Brujas series. She didn’t just write a book about brujas; She created an entirely new world and religion for them to navigate. The scope of this novel is amazing. Go on a quest with Alex to rescue her family from an evil force. Don’t worry, even while trying to save her family and perhaps the world, there’s still time for a bisexual love triangle. I’m 100% team Rishi.

November features Light Before Day by Christopher Rice. Rice summons the best of crime noir in this modern thriller. This book has it all. Largely queer cast? Check. Well developed mystery? Check. Gay assassin? Check. Light Before Day is one wild ride you will be glad you went on.

December features Peter Darling by Austin Chant. Peter Darling is much more than a queer reimagining of Peter Pan. Chant gives new life and motivations to familiar characters to create a wholly new experience. This book will change the way you see Neverland. In a world of make believe, can two people find real love? This story features M/M trans romance.

Black History Month 2019

Last year, I posted this on the last day of Black History Month as part of the Around the Blogosqueer feature. This year, I thought it’d be nice to start a tradition of just adding to it every year as a BHM staple, keeping the old stuff but continuously providing new content, and posting it in th middle of February. Living history FTW.

Sites

Sistahs on the ShelfSotS is run by Rena, a Black lesbian who reviews Black lesbian books. You can also follow on Twitter at @SotS!

WoC in Romance – this is a site highlighting all Romance written by WoC, but there’s a page just for LGBTQ Romances. It’s run by Rebekah Weatherspoon, whose name you may recognize as being a prolific author of LGBTQ lit herself! You can follow on Twitter at @WOCInRomance, and make sure you check out their Patreon; link is in the pinned tweet!

Black Lesbian Literary Collective – To nab from their site, “The Black Lesbian Literary Collective creates a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers.” Looking for more reviews of Black lesbian fic? Ta da! The site is new, so it’s not packed with posts just yet, but there is already an active radio show linked to it. Find them on Twitter at @LezWriters.

The Brown Bookshelf – this is a site dedicated to Black kidlit; here are the posts that come up if you search LGBT.

Books

*=new additions this year

Middle-Grade

Young Adult

NA/Adult Contemporary

NA/Adult (Speculative)

Comics

Featured Authors

Posts and Featured Authors

Have more to share? Add them in the comments!

 

Help Wanted: LGBTQIA+ Magazine for Youth of Color

inQluded d00a_08a.pnginQluded, a digital magazine for LGBTQIA+ Youth of Color is currently looking for submissions and donations!

Who They Are

An online magazine, featuring:
Personal Essays
Poetry
Visual Art
Race
Culture
Politics
Pop Culture
Health
Short Stories
YA Fiction
Artist Interviews (video/written)
Monthly Playlists and more

What They Do

With a mission to create a safe space that honors and celebrates the voices of LGBTQIA+ Youth of Color, inQluded offers members of the LGBTQIA+ community a platform and literary community within which to tell stories that are about more than just their identities that will also exist beyond the online magazine through open mic nights, interactive panels, writing workshops, and mentorship and fellowship programs led by people of color.

What They’re Looking For 

Potential team members / editorial team staff, help circulating our gofundme campaign in order to reach our goal and professionals in the literary world who may be interested in supporting our programming.

Follow on social media: @inQluded

Around the Blogosqueer: Queer Black Sites, Books, and Posts

On this final day of Black History Month of 2018, here are some books, sites, and posts to read, enjoy, promote, support, review, and share:

Sites

Sistahs on the ShelfSotS is run by Rena, a Black lesbian who reviews Black lesbian books. You can also follow on Twitter at @SotS!

WoC in Romance – this is a site highlighting all Romance written by WoC, but there’s a page just for LGBTQ Romances. It’s run by Rebekah Weatherspoon, whose name you may recognize as being a prolific author of LGBTQ lit herself! You can follow on Twitter at @WOCInRomance, and make sure you check out their Patreon; link is in the pinned tweet!

Black Lesbian Literary Collective – To nab from their site, “The Black Lesbian Literary Collective creates a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers.” Looking for more reviews of Black lesbian fic? Ta da! The site is new, so it’s not packed with posts just yet, but there is already an active radio show linked to it. Find them on Twitter at @LezWriters.

The Brown Bookshelf – this is a site dedicated to Black kidlit; here are the posts that come up if you search LGBT.

2016-18 Books

Middle-Grade

Young Adult

Adult

Adult (Speculative)

Books You Can Add on Goodreads

Young Adult

Not yet on Goodreads, but take note:

(Electric Literature editor, Lambda Literary Fellow, and Iowa Writer’s Workshop fellow Brandon Taylor’s REAL LIFE, a novel of unexpected intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, and a story collection, to Cal Morgan and Riverhead, in a pre-empt, by Meredith Kaffel Simonoff at DeFiore and Company.)

Posts

Where is the Queer Black Male Voice in YA Lit?

Black History Month Roundtable via Autostraddle

Have more to share? Add them in the comments!

 

Around the Blogosqueer: Free Short Stories and Flash Fiction

Queer lit by great authors for zero dollars in easily devourable slices? Totally accessible whether you’ve got funds and/or a credit card or not? Helllll yes. Please enjoy the authors providing the goods for free, and consider checking out what else they’ve got where applicable!

Alison Evans, author of Long Macchiatos and Monsters, Ida, and more (scroll down for links and brief descriptions)

Brandon Taylor, Assistant Editor at Electric Lit, as posted on Catapult

“They Called Us” and “Little Shop of Superstitions” by Natalie Parker, via The Hanging Gardens

“Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live” by Sacha Lamb, via Book Smugglers

“The Cure” by Malinda Lo, via Interfictions

Around the Blogosqueer: Great Rec Posts/Databases

First off, though, I somehow forgot to mention the Lesbrary in my last Around the Blogosqueer post?? Clearly I take for granted everyone knows them and their work, but if you don’t, FYI the site is run by Danika Leigh Ellis, who also writes lots of LGBTQ posts for BookRiot. As a bonus, they’re primarily not Romance focused, which makes them an especially nice counterpoint to this and most other LGBTQ sites.

And now, narrowing in from full-blown web sites to much more specific resources, today Around the Blogosphere is focused on some really excellent posts and databases dedicated to helping you find some of the most underrepresented, under-covered LGBTQA+ reads out there!

LGBTQIA+ Masterlist on Gay YA

Recommendations for Polyamory in Fiction by Shira Glassman for LGBTQReads

The Aromantic and Asexual Speculative Fiction Database by Claudie Arseneault

Aro & Ace Books by Laya

Butch Characters in Erotica and Romance by Xan West on Kink Praxis

The Bi-bliography on Library Thing

Books About Lesbians with Physical Disabilities on Good Lesbian Books

Bisexual YA Books by Ava for YA Interrobang

The Lesbrary Goodreads Project

Aromantic Representation in Webcomics by Laya Rose for Gay YA

Trans Lit Rec Threads – a Storified collection by Corey Alexander/@TGStoneButch

Masterlist of Literature About/Including LGBTQ+ Muslims on LGBTQIA+ Books

Around the Blogosqueer: Recommended Resources

Around the Blogosqueer is a feature used to highlight other LGBTQIAP lit throughout the internet, and today, we’re focusing on some great sites where you can find the pros in your area of interest! Some of these sites have been asked already to do a little writeup for us on exactly what they do (and if you haven’t, but your siteis here, please consider this an open invite to submit!), but for now, here’s where you can find some fabulous bloggers and book recs!

Sistahs on the ShelfSotS is run by Rena, a Black lesbian who reviews Black lesbian books. You can also follow on Twitter at @SotS!

WoC in Romance – this is a site highlighting all Romance written by WoC, but there’s a page just for LGBTQ Romances. It’s run by Rebekah Weatherspoon, whose name you may recognize as being a prolific author of LGBTQ lit herself! You can follow on Twitter at @WOCInRomance, and make sure you check out their Patreon; link is in the pinned tweet!

Gay YA – This fab site is dedicated to LGBTQIAP YA and does great theme weeks and bi-monthly book chats under #GayYABookClub! Vee is the Head Enby in Charge (and also runs the @trans_lit Twitter account!), but there’s a whole great staff (including author Katherine Locke, who generally runs the book club chats) and a wide breadth of knowledge here. You can also find them on Twitter, Tumblr…basically everywhere.

LGBT YA -Author Lauren James runs this Tumblr-based review site, and she was actually our very first Around the Blogosqueer interviewee, so more on her and the site here!

Lambda Literary – The one and only! Follow along for reviews, awards, fellowships, and more!

Queer Sci-Fi – Exactly what it sounds like! Nicely extensive resource, covering more media than just books.

Queer SFF –  Also what it sounds like! It hasn’t been active in a few months but stands as a good resource for finding solid titles from 2016 and prior. More YA-centric than the above.

Queer Comics All comics, all queer, all the time! Run by Audrey and Taneka, this is an incredible resource for both print and web comics, and you can find them on Twitter, too, at @QueerComics.

Black Lesbian Literary Collective – To nab from their site, “The Black Lesbian Literary Collective creates a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers.” Looking for more reviews of Black lesbian fic? Ta da! The site is new, so it’s not packed with posts just yet, but there is already an active radio show linked to it. Find them on Twitter at @LezWriters.

The Lesbian Review – While m/m review sites are everywhere, it’s delightful to see a site with a pretty big following that does strictly f/f. Run by Sheena, you can find them on Twitter at @LesbianReviews!

And finally, though it’s really a single post I’m highlighting, my new favorite amazing resource is Reviews of trans and/or non-binary lit by trans and/or non-binary reviewers on Kink Praxis, which is Corey Alexander/Xan West’s author site. This is such an excellent and necessary service, and my great thanks both to them and to all the reviewers who’ve allowed their reviews to be linked!

Got your own favorite resources? Give them a shout in the comments!