It’s always a good day when it’s a Neon Hemlock cover reveal day! Today’s is for Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die, an anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction featuring some major faves from the world of SFF and releasing in September! Here are the details:
Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die is an anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction centering queer joy and community in the face of disaster. What does hope look like when everything is lost? Now, more than ever, we need to revel in the bright spots amidst the darkness.
The twenty-three stories (and two poems) contained here, as well as the roleplaying game Dream Askew by Avery Alder, imagine queer community in myriad futures interrupted by collapse. Post-apocalyptic futures glittering and bleak, challenging and eerie.
Glitter + Ashes is here to hold up a torch. Come gather round the fire.
Contributors include: Saida Agostini, Elly Bangs, Phoebe Barton, Christopher Caldwell, C.L. Clark, Josie Columbus, Trip Galey, Blake Jessop, Marianne Kirby, Jordan Kurella, L.D. Lewis, Otter Lieffe, Darcie Little Badger, A.Z. Louise, V. Medina, Michael Andrew Milne, Anthony Moll, Mari Ness, Aun-Juli Riddle, Lauren Ring, Adam Shannon, A.P. Thayer, R.J. Theodore, Izzy Wasserstein, and Brendan Williams-Childs.
And here’s the lovely cover, illustrated by Hugo-nominated illustrator Grace P. Fong!
(Psst, wanna see the full flap? We’ve got that too!)
dave ring is a writer, counselor and dilettante living in Washington, DC. He is the chair of the OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival and an active member of the Speculative Wordsmiths. He is also the publisher and managing editor of Neon Hemlock Press. He has two speculative anthologies under his belt: Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was (Mason Jar Press) and Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die (forthcoming from Neon Hemlock Press). He has also edited the zines V O I D J U N K and A Formal Invitation.
Today on the site we’ve got another fabulous cover reveal, this one for Luckmonkey by Alysia Constantine, which releases from Interlude Press on March 9, 2021! Here’s the gist:
By day, Luckmonkey is a struggling punk band playing in record stores and taco joints; by night, its members are anti-capitalist agitators, breaking into homes and businesses, each time stealing one possession and leaving something different in its place. Squatting in an abandoned building without electricity or heat, they scrounge a patched-together life as a raucous, mismatched family of queer, trans and first-gen social activists.
But when one of them steals a wind-up monkey toy and brings it home, things begin to deteriorate into squabbles and bad decisions, until an arrest forces the group to weigh the hard work of political resistance against their individual needs for stability and safety.
Set in the margins of Pittsburgh in the early aughts, Luckmonkey barrels into the defiant lives of social outsiders working to change the world.
And here’s the cover, designed by the magical C.B. Messer!
Alysia Constantine is a critically acclaimed and award-winning author whose novels blur the line between reality and fantasy, feature luscious prose and explore complex themes of otherness. Her novels Sweet (Interlude Press, 2016) and Olympia Knife (Interlude Press, 2017) received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Foreword Reviews, respectively. She is also the editor of the 2020 Young Adult anthology, Short Stuff (Duet Books). She lives in the Lower Hudson Valley with her wife, two dogs, and a cat and is a former professor at a New York arts college.
Lower YA is still a wildly underrepresented subcategory in queer YA, so I’m thrilled to be revealing the cover for a new one entitled Chase: the Boy Who Hid by Z. Jeffries, which is a sci-fi releasing digitally on October 15 and starring a bisexual hero and nonbinary love interest. Here’s a little more on the book:
Don’t hide from your feelings. Hide from the giant robot trying to kill you.
I always knew I’d inherited my grandad’s mind for science and technology, but when he goes missing, I get his spot in a top-secret government game of hide and seek. The military camouflage challenge, DARPA’s game where shapeshifters, mechs, and telepaths hide from a robot seeker, is where Grandad vanished.
To find out what happened to him, I’ll play along- gain the team’s trust, master the tech, and avoid catching feelings for the team navigator. If I can do all that, then maybe I can survive the dangerous game. But if it comes down to winning or finding Grandad, I’ll ditch the game and betray my team in a millisecond. Even if it means I go missing, too.
Book One in the Hide & Seek Series, the action-packed coming of age stories of STEM-minded queer kids getting their hands on the tech of the future.
And here’s the cover, compliments of Mikki Noble of Paracoze Designs!
Z Jeffries (left) can’t wait for you to read his debut YA novel. A son of an English teacher, one of his earliest memories was after a day at kindergarten, sitting in the back of his mom’s classroom and listening to her describe Dr. Jekyll reeling from the violence of Mr. Hyde. Under various names, he’s written, produced, and directed theatre in Chicago and along the east coast, as well as published several adult short stories. His interests include space travel, cheese, and whether cheese will be allowed during space travel. He lives in American suburbia with his wife, daughter, dog, and garden. Visit ZJeffries.com just for the heck of it.
You know when you’re already so excited for a book, and then you see the cover and you just gasp with joy at both its beauty and the fact that the premise has externally been done justice? If you love that feeling as much as I do, you’re definitely going to want to keep reading to learn more about A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha, a debut f/f YA Fantasy Romance coming December 1, 2020 from Entangled Teen. Here’s the pitch:
With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.
There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.
If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.
Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.
As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?
With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.
She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.
Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…
And here’s the spectacular cover, designed by Entangled’s Art Director, Bree Archer!
But wait, there’s also a heartbreakingly romantic excerpt!
Hearing her name in Fatyan’s lips heated her cheeks further, and her closeness breathed wonder into her lungs. No stranger had come so near her, and she almost stepped away—but then her eyes found Fatyan’s and the tender curiosity reflected upon them, and the enchantment of it all rooted her in place.
“I need your help,” Yzabel said.
“I know. I need yours, too.” A slight tilt of her head. “What would you ask of me?”
Yzabel tensed, her fingers matching the white of her dress as she clutched it. “You have to promise not to tell anyone. Even after we leave this place.”
“Is it the sahar?”
“Magic.” She motioned toward Yzabel’s left hand still glowing as though someone had spread embers under the skin. “It’s what woke me up, even though you were far away.”
The curse had been reacting to Fatyan’s. Yzabel’s lips fell open. “Can you tell me why it turns all the food I touch into flowers?”
Intrigue drew Fatyan’s lips into a pout and her fingers to her chin. “You’ve been cursed?”
“Yes. That’s why I came to find you.” Yzabel looked at Fatyan from under her brown eyelashes, and her tongue darted to wet her mouth. “I need it gone.”
Pensive eyes studied her. “I need to feel your sahar better.” Fatyan caught her hand before it touched Yzabel’s skin, left it to hover above her jaw. “May I?”
An answering nod came without Yzabel’s command, and she stepped forward so Fatyan’s fingers brushed her cheek. The moura closed her eyes as she fully cupped the side of Yzabel’s face, and she wasn’t certain what spell had her enthralled so completely, if it was the stone’s or the moura’s, but her heart was racing, and an odd feeling forming in her stomach, so much like hunger and yet not.
The magic inside her surged, and heat spread from where their skin touched. Yzabel’s heart tried to climb up her throat. When she swallowed it back down, the throb rose to her ears, deafening her to anything that wasn’t Fatyan.
A crease appeared between the moura’s brows as she opened her eyes, and her hand moved across Yzabel’s jaw, down the slope of her neck, mesmerized as they trailed her own gesture. Yzabel looked down when the moura stopped at her shoulder and gasped at the sight before her.
Under Fatyan’s touch, Yzabel’s skin came alight, as though she had candles underneath her flesh and Fatyan’s fingers were the flame that lit their wick.
“This is no curse,” Fatyan said under her breath. She trailed her hand down the inside of Yzabel’s arm, and it was like watching a storm cross her skin.
Born in the sunny lands of Portugal, Diana grew up in Estremoz, and now lives in Lisbon with two extremely fluffy cats and one amazing bearded dragon. A Computer Engineer graduate from Instituto Superior Técnico, she has worked in award-winning educational video games, but writing is where her heart always belonged. When she’s not working on her books, she can be found painting, immersed in books or video games, or walking around with her dragon.
I’m so delighted to welcome back Kris Ripper to the site, this time for a cover reveal of zir most delightful-looking male/nonbinary Romance, The Love Study, which releases from Carina Press on September 28, 2020! Here’s the story:
What happens when the search for the perfect date goes perfectly wrong?
Declan has commitment issues. He’s been an office temp for literally years now, and his friends delight in telling people that he left his last boyfriend at the altar.
And that’s all true. But he’s starting to think it’s time to start working on his issues. Maybe.
When Declan meets Sidney—a popular nonbinary YouTuber with an advice show—an opportunity presents itself: as part of The Love Study, Declan will go on a series of dates arranged by Sidney and report back on how the date went in the next episode.
The dates are…sort of blah. It’s not Sidney’s fault; the folks participating are (mostly) great people, but there’s no chemistry there. Maybe Declan’s just broken.
Or maybe the problem is that the only person he’s feeling chemistry with is Sidney.
And now, the adorable cover, designed by Dandelion Design!
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and zir pronouns are ze/zir. Kris shares a converted garage with a kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.
You know those covers that are just so badass you barely even need to know what it’s inside to know you need it? But then you see what’s inside and you know you need it? I present to you today exhibit A, in the form of Stone and Steel by Eboni Dunbar, which is part of Neon Hemlock’s 2020 Novella Series and releases on September 5, 2020. Here’s a little more about it:
In Stone and Steel, when General Aaliyah returns triumphant to the city of Titus, she expects to find the people prospering under the rule of her Queen, the stone mage Odessa. Instead, she finds a troubling imbalance in both the citizens’ wellbeing and Odessa’s rule. Aaliyah must rely on all of her allies, old and new, to do right by the city that made her.
“Stone and Steel is a sharp and sexy story of love, loyalty and magic. Eboni has given us a world where Black Queerness reigns supreme, and our world is better for it.” — Danny Lore, co-author of Queen of Bad Dreams
And here is the glorious cover, painted by Odera Igbokwe and designed by dave ring!
Eboni Dunbar is a queer, black woman who writes queer and black speculative fiction. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner. She received her BA from Macalester College and her MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. She is a VONA Alum, an associate editor for PodCastle, an acquiring editor for FIYAH Literary Magazine and a freelance reviewer. Her work can be found in FIYAH, Drabblecast, Anathema: Spec from the margins and Nightlight Podcast. She can be found online at www.ebonidunbar.com and on Twitter as @sugoionna87.
If there’s one thing I love in a romance, it’s food. If there’s another, it’s puns. And if there’s another, it’s competition. So you can imagine my ridiculous delight at getting to reveal the cover for Candace Harper’s Hugs & Quiches, a contemporary foodie f/f (bi/lesbian) romance releasing August 22, 2020!
Starting over was meant to be a new beginning.
Though for Zoe Cooper and Amelia Hughes, it’s the very first step toward their happy ending.
It’s been a year since Zoe Cooper packed up her daughter and fled her abusive husband with only the clothes on her back. But life as a waitress, food blogger, and “roommate” to her supportive mother has turned into a holding pattern, and her dream of launching her own catering company and cooking school feels like just another fairy tale ending–when she’s no Cinderella.
Until the newest cooking competition comes to town, and suddenly magic just might be at Zoe’s fingertips with the chance to audition for Heating Up the Kitchen.
If only she can beat Amelia.
Fresh out of a disastrous relationship and determined to prove her ex wrong, Amelia’s got a chip on her shoulder and is ready for a grudge match in the kitchen. When she locks horns with Amelia, there’s more steaming than their buns as the two competitive young chefs vie for the top spot on the show…
…and the top spot in each others’ hearts.
There’s more cooking in this kitchen than the food, and romance is on the menu. When hatred turns to heat and threatens to boil over, their rivalry might just end in disaster.
Or Zoe and Amelia might just find the future they need in each other–in between stolen hugs and quiches.
And here’s the searing cover, designed by Ceilie Simkiss!
Candace Harper is a queer, neurodivergent woman living with her partner, two cats and a dog in the PNW. She’s known for being the overly enthusiastic about silly things and as the mom friend. She writes queer fiction as much and in as many genres as she can manage, both under this name and as Ceillie Simkiss.
Today on the site, I’m thrilled to have Sara Codair to reveal the cover of their upcoming young adult urban fantasy, Power Inversion, releasing June 1st from NineStar Press! Here’s what it’s about:
Do you have to be a monster to fight one?
Erin Evanstar is a demon hunter, a protector of humanity from nightmarish predators that feed on people’s fears and flesh. They are settling into their dual life of being a teen and hunting demons.
When a tentacled horror abducts Erin’s partner, José, Erin and their family go on the hunt to get him back. But Erin gets an ultimatum: help the Fallen Angels bring on the apocalypse or watch José die. Erin will do anything to save José, but fighting monsters comes with a grim price–becoming one themselves.
And here’s the electrifying cover, designed by Natasha Snow!
Sara Codair is an author of short stories and novels, which are packed with action, adventure, magic, and the bizarre. They partially owe their success to their faithful feline writing partner, Goose the Meowditor-In-Chief, who likes to “edit” their work by deleting entire pages. Find Sara online at saracodair.com or @shatteredsmooth.
You may remember Lindsay Smith from one of my favorite bi YA thrillers, A Darkly Beating Heartor her excellent queer historical story in A Tyranny of Petticoats. Well, now she’s back with something entirely different but still wildly queer, and we get to reveal the cover! The Shadow War is a new YA fantasy releasing on October 13th from Philomel/Penguin, and it’s pitched as Inglorious Basterds meets Stranger Things, which !!! Here’s the official blurb:
World War II is raging, and five teens are looking to make a mark. Daniel and Rebeka seek revenge against the Nazis who slaughtered their family; Simone is determined to fight back against the oppressors who ruined her life and corrupted her girlfriend; Phillip aims to prove that he’s better than his worst mistakes; and Liam is searching for a way to control the portal to the shadow world he’s uncovered, and the monsters that live within it–before the Nazi regime can do the same. When the five meet, and begrudgingly team up, in the forests of Germany, none of them knows what their future might hold.
As they race against time, war, and enemies from both this world and another, Liam, Daniel, Rebeka, Phillip, and Simone know that all they can count on is their own determination and will to survive. With their world turned upside down, and the shadow realm looming ominously large–and threateningly close–the course of history and the very fate of humanity rest in their hands. Still, the most important question remains: Will they be able to save it?
And here’s the electrifying cover, designed by Kristie Radwilowicz!
Fires raged, purple and blue and savage, flowing like liquid through the trees. The sky glowed with unnatural light against a swallowing gulp of darkness. And in the distance, a column of flaming stones soared skyward—a pillar. Shadows circled it like giant bats, impossibly long wings scraping against one another in their jagged dance.
Daniel shrank back, pulse racing. What had happened to his world, his life? The wings beat louder, threatening to drown out his thoughts. “What have you done to me?”
“To you? Not a damn thing. In fact, I think we might be able to help each other.”
Daniel turned toward him. Liam smiled so easily, as if his earlier black rage had never happened. He’d said the rules were different here, without explaining, yet, where here was.
Liam appeared to be in total control. He was confident—calm, even—despite the strangeness surrounding them. He was just an ordinary college student, a little disheveled, though nothing that couldn’t be fixed by a hot bath. His tweed jacket, his satchel, his tidy leather loafers—nothing about him hinted he could unleash hell from his palm.
But Daniel was used to monsters that wore the plainest faces.
In the distance, something howled, slavering and cruel.
“What is this place?” Daniel asked again, though he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to know the answer.
“This,” Liam said, “is how we’re going to win the war.”
Lindsay Smith is the author of Sekret and other novels for young adults. She writes for Serial Box’s Marvel’s Black Widow: Bad Blood, Orphan Black: The Next Chapter, and The Witch Who Came In From the Cold. She has also written for comics, RPGs, and more. She lives in Washington, DC, where she works in international cybersecurity.
I’m so thrilled to have Kevin Craig on the site today to reveal the cover of his sophomore novel (and first with Duet Books), The Camino Club, which releases on October 6th! Here’s the story:
After getting in trouble with the law, a group of wayward teens from diverse backgrounds are given an ultimatum: serve time in juvenile detention for their crimes, or walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain over the summer holidays with a pair of court-appointed counselor guides. Although unlikely friends, they all try to make the best of their situation. The pilgrims grow closer on their journey, but when and if they reach the Cathedral in Santiago, will they each find what they’re looking for and come out of the walk ready to conquer the shattered worlds they left behind?
And here’s the beautiful cover designed by C.B. Messer!
We’ve been lost for over an hour. The way Claire is so chill about it, I’m beginning to think she doesn’t much care. She might have had something to do with us taking the wrong turns in the first place.
We were only a city block or so ahead of Meagan. Every once in a while I would slow our pace down so she was always able to catch glimpses of us. And Manny and Greg walked just slightly ahead of us. They sped up, and as soon as we lost sight of them, bam. Everything fell apart.
The rain didn’t help. We’re soaked through. At least it’s stopped. Hopefully it stays this way. I need to either dry off or find my way back to the path before I go mad. I can’t be wet and lost.
But here we are, drenched, on this quiet street with no peregrinos anywhere in sight. We have lost our way. And I kept letting Claire lead me in the wrong direction, because I had assumed she was trying to find her way back to the yellow arrows.
Clearly, not a good idea. Not an arrow in sight. I should have just kept walking with Manny and Greg. Even Gil disappeared back at the albergue after he realized Claire finally had a new walking partner.
I think last night may have been a one off, though. She seemed nice enough at the time, but I think today’s Claire may have gone rogue. I’m almost positive. Maybe she’s possessed by Cacabelos Jesus.
“I give up,” I say, stopping in front of a small grocery. “I’m asking for directions.”
“No, don’t. It’s more fun this way. Can’t we just wander around and figure things out for ourselves. Where’s your sense of adventure?”
“You know what I think,” I say before heading inside. “I think you want to be lost. I think you did this to us on purpose. I don’t want to be drawn into any of your plans to screw this up. You’re sabotaging me.”
I turn and walk into the small grocery. I let the door close on Claire, shutting down her ability to respond. I hope they can point me in the right direction. I don’t care if she follows me or not. I’d rather she didn’t.
I have my phone out, getting directions from the lady behind the counter, when Claire finally enters the store. We’re struggling through the language barrier, but the woman understands Camino and is able to show me on Google Maps where it is I have to go to get back on the path. Claire stands behind me, skulking noisily. After I have the directions, I buy a couple apples that happen to sit in a basket on the counter.
I turn to Claire and give her a dirty look as I put one of the apples into a side pocket in my backpack. I bite into the other and say, “Come on. Let’s go.” I hold up my phone to show her I know where I’m going.
“Nah,” she says. She pops a handful of Skittles. It was cute at first, but those little candies are beginning to annoy me. “I think I’ll sit this one out.”
“What does that even mean?”
Claire heads for the door without saying another word. I thank the woman behind the counter again before I leave. She says Buen Camino and I wave as I leave her store.
“What is your problem?” I ask Claire as I catch up to her. She just shrugs and keeps walking, in the opposite direction we need to go in order to get back to the yellow arrows. “Come on, Claire. You’re going the wrong way. You can’t just get lost in Spain. Are you nuts, girl? What is wrong with you? I thought we bonded last night. I thought—”
“Oh, what?” She pivots, cutting me off mid-sentence. “You think because we spent half an hour together we’re best friends now? What about the day before that? Or on the plane? You know, when you didn’t say two words to me?”
“I just want to get back to the Camino, Claire. I don’t want to fight with you.”
“What are you even in for, anyway?” she says. She walks over to where I stand waiting for her.
“You don’t want to know.”
Kevin Craig is a playwright, poet, and short story writer who lives in Toronto with their husband, Michael. An author of six published novels, Kevin’s books include Pride Must Be a Place (MuseItUp Publishing, 2018) and Burn Baby Burn Baby (independently published, 2014). Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference Board of Directors, and sat on the Writers’ Community of Durham Region’s (WCDR) Board of Directors as Membership Coordinator. Website: https://ktcraig.com/