Tag Archives: Anthology

Inside an Anthology: At Midnight ed. by Dahlia Adler

Today on the site, we’re looking inside an anthology that’s edited by none other than yours truly! At Midnight is a collection of reimagined YA fairy tales (with the original source material in the back) authored by some of the category’s best and queerest, and it released today from Flatiron Books! Check out more about the volume and some of the queer stories within it below: 

At Midnight: 15 Beloved Fairytales Reimagined ed. by Dahlia Adler (22nd)

Fairy tales have been spun for thousands of years and remain among our most treasured stories. Weaving fresh tales with unexpected reimaginings, At Midnight brings together a diverse group of acclaimed YA writers to breathe new life into a storied tradition.

Fifteen celebrated authors reclaim classic fairy tales for a new generation:

Dahlia Adler, “Rumplestiltskin”
Tracy Deonn, “The Nightingale”
H.E. Edgmon, “Snow White”
Hafsah Faizal, “Little Red Riding Hood”
Stacey Lee, “The Little Matchstick Girl”
Roselle Lim, “Hansel and Gretel”
Darcie Little Badger, “Puss in Boots”
Malinda Lo, “Frau Trude”
Alex London, “Cinderella”
Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Nutcracker”
Rebecca Podos, “The Robber Bridegroom”
Rory Power, “Sleeping Beauty”
Meredith Russo, “The Little Mermaid”
Gita Trelease, “Fitcher’s Bird”
and an all-new fairy tale by Melissa Albert

Once upon a time . . .

Buy it: Amazon | Bookshop | IndieBound

“Sugarplum” by Anna-Marie McLemore

Sugarplums. Glittering snow. Really snappy uniforms. Fabulous shoes used as weapons. It’s not like I had to make a huge leap (grand jeté?) to make The Nutcracker gay. But while my story got real gay, it also got real about what it means to have to perform for the audiences in our lives. A Latina dancer feels wound up like a music box ballerina. A soft butch girl with a chip on her shoulder and a spectacular curling throw can’t say what she really wants to say about the Christmas party going on downstairs. Two queer girls who always have the perfect insult for each other are quiet for once, leaving space for the conversations they’ve never had. And cake. Because sometimes enemies to lovers starts with cake.

“Say My Name” by Dahlia Adler

What if Rumpelstiltskin were a cruel Sapphic coding genius in love with her best friend? That’s the heart of “Say My Name,” which is actually a semi-repurposing of an idea I had for a different anthology to which I was asked to contribute but unfortunately didn’t sell. My main character in that story was a catfish who kept the game going a little too long when she got feelings, and naturally when I think catfish I think of the ultimate identity-hider of yore! And so Rumpelstiltskin became [redacted], and this became the story of a girl who would do anything to impress the girl she loves, even if it kind of turns her into a monster.

“HEA” by Alex London

HEA is a modern m|m reimagining of Cinderella, turned on its head. Asher (as in Aschenputtel–the little ash girl of the Grimm tale) is a teen social media star, who lives in service to his brand. Constant balls and parties and opportunities to create content. He longs for one night not to be a brand, but just to be a boy. So he disguises himself in sweatpants, ditches the Met Gala, and hides out at a coffee shop. Of course, it’s there that he meets his prince, the barista, and has to flee, back to his fabulous life and the endless churn of content. But he’s left something behind, more than his heart, and his prince is going to track him down…

“Mother’s Mirror” by H.E. Edgmon

When Dahlia asked me to join a fairytale retelling anthology, it was a no-brainer. I’ve been compelled by fairytales since my earliest days—I currently own three copies of the exact same Grimm Brothers collection, with different covers. My only question was which fairytale to make my own. And when I remembered that the original Snow White featured the protagonist’s own mother, not an evil step-mother, as the villain, I had my answer.

The often-fraught nature of mother/daughter relationships is one many of us are already familiar with. But what happens when the eldest daughter, the one expected to twist herself until she becomes a reflection of the mother, comes out as trans, instead? That’s the story I explore in “Mother’s Mirror.” The contemporary retelling features a narcissistic single mom as the evil queen, a main character who’s more huntsman than Snow, and the choice to cut out one’s own heart rather than face the slow poison of living a lie.

“A Flame So Bright” by Malinda Lo

I first encountered the little-known story of “Frau Trude” in an academic book called Transgressive Tales: Queering the Grimms, which includes an essay by Kay Turner titled “Playing with Fire: Transgression as Truth in Grimms’ ‘Frau Trude.” I was inspired by Turner’s queer reading of the very short tale of “Frau Trude,” and I loved the metaphorical possibilities of fire, especially because it has been connected closely with witchcraft. I lived in Salem, MA, for about a year and a half, and I’ve been fascinated by beliefs about witches since I was very young, so retelling “Frau Trude” gave me the opportunity to over-research witchcraft in colonial America and bring some local Salem-inspired flair to my story. I also loved this chance to return to what I call “fairy tale voice,” since I haven’t written fantasy in quite a while.

Inside an Anthology: Queer Weird West Tales ed. by Julie Bozza

Today on the site, we’re saying howdy to Queer Weird West Tales ed. by Julie Bozza, which releases tomorrow!

Frontiers have always attracted the Other – where they find that the Other is always already there. These 22 stories explore what happens when queer characters encounter weirdness on the edge of the worlds they know.

Authors include: Julie Bozza, J.A. Bryson, Dannye Chase, S.E. Denton, Miguel Flores, Adele Gardner, Roy Gray, KC Grifant, Peter Hackney, Bryn Hammond, Narrelle M Harris, Justin Warren Jackson, Toshiya Kamei, Catherine Lundoff, Bunny McFadden, Angus McIntyre, Atlin Merrick, Eleanor Musgrove, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Lauren Scharhag, Sara L. Uckelman, and Dawn Vogel.

Per editor Julie Bozza, “In this edition of LGBTQ Reads’ “Inside An Anthology,” ten of the contributors to Queer Weird West Tales share insights into their choices of character, weirdness, and setting, and why this mix of themes is so intriguing.”

“Magic Casements” by Julie Bozza (editor)

I think this combination of Queer, Weird and West/Frontier works so well because all three elements resist – or are at odds with – the “norm”. Whatever that is! My friends and I have been saying “Normality is a dead concept” for decades now, but I think that is part of the charm of these genres, whether written together or separately. There is something that goes against the grain in all of us; there are social and cultural expectations that we all chafe against at times, to say the least. Which I think is at least partly why we identify with or at least enjoy reading about outsiders.

Maybe we are all the Other.

“Rumblings” by Roy Gray

The inspiration for my story was reading a book, The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time by J. Richard Gott. His description of a jinni, a sort of time loop – and in particular the information jinni – was one of the ideas that meshed with speculation about climate change, supervolcanoes, asteroid impacts and how our descendants might cope with the fallout of such.

“Handguns” by J.A. Bryson

I love the Weird West combination, the sort of miso and maple syrup of it, and have experimented a good bit of late writing Wild West Fairylands. There’s unexpectedness and umami so-to-speak, tropes to embrace and subvert. I love it. As for the queerness, that’s  just the icing on the proverbial cake (pardon the mixed metaphor/flavor palates).

I very much enjoyed reading Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, which was steampunk but with a wild west flair and Sarah Gailey’s Upright Women Wanted, which was pulp western near future. I wanted to riff off these in my own work, and you know, lean into the weird.

“Twin-Sun Bayou” by Peter Hackney

My inspiration was not actually all that deep, at least not for this story. Very simply, I wanted to write a story about an out there romance in an out there place; one that would challenge some of the simpler tropes we often associate with things like space adventures and science fiction. Honestly, the very first thing that came into my head was the image of my characters sitting side by side on deck chairs, wearing matching straw hats and fishing as the sun(s) went down.

“A Truce with Evil” by Bryn Hammond

In my story I have a contrast of cultural values between competition and cooperation. That had its seed in a fascinating book I read years ago, Darwin Without Malthus: The Struggle for Existence in Russian Evolutionary Thought by Daniel P. Todes. It’s about 19th-century Russian scientists’ reception of the competition theme in Darwin. The ‘struggle for existence’, animal with animal, was a key concept for evolutionists in England and France, but in Russia did not translate well or tally with the observations of naturalists. Darwin had observed animals in populous places and warm climates, whereas in the cold spaces of Russia’s non-European hinterland, the usual struggle animals faced was against conditions, not each other. Pyotr Kropotkin is famous as an anarchist but was also a forerunner to the study of emotions and the beginnings of ethics in animals. His Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902) has a host of examples of the sociability of animals, cooperation across species, as witnessed in the vast landscapes of Siberia.

I meshed that with the ideas around evil in my story. I’ve wanted to explore the cultural relativity of evil ever since I wrote a sentence in my novel Against Walls: “We’re defined by our definition of evil.”

“Bleb Central” by Justin Warren Jackson

My main character is a gay man whose job is to cater to others. He thinks he runs things because he keeps everybody in one piece, literally. Only as the story progresses do we see that there is a larger picture and that what the main character does is just one piece of this. A moral of the story: No one is indispensable, though each of us can play a pivotal role. Especially after an alien invasion.

In my story, the queer characters are no more outsiders than any other human. With all characters equal in this regard, they also have equal agency in transforming their hostile environment into some semblance of home. Ultimately, their effectiveness depends not only on how much effort they put in, but also on how attuned they are to the larger picture.

“Grimwood” by Catherine Lundoff

I’m fascinated by the impact that the spiritualist movement had on both American and British society in the nineteenth century. It was an impetus for the founding of the abolitionist and the women’s suffrage movements: a lot of the female leadership combined their interests or moved from one to the other as they learned to give speeches, organize and be active outside the domestic sphere. I start off with a woman, a lesbian, who’s lost the love of her life and has exhausted what mediums and spiritualists can do for her, so she’s looking for a wilder, older magic.

“A Fearful Symmetry” by Angus McIntyre

My story is set in the Pacific Northwest in the late 19th century. It’s very much a time of transition. So the characters are ‘at home’ in the sense that they can function well in that environment, but  there’s a growing tension between the old and the new. As the frontier increasingly opens up and loggers and miners and city builders move in, it’s creating a very different world.

The North America of my stories isn’t a comfortable place. There’s a dark and eerie side to it, and there really are sasquatches and wendigos and worse in those trackless woods and swamps. No one’s ever really ‘at home’ there. But my protagonists, like the Native people of the region, have learned how to fit in, how not to live at odds with nature, and how to manage those particular dangers. They’re going to have a much harder time coping with the new, rapidly-industrializing America that is coming their way.

“Set in Stone” by Eleanor Musgrove

My story is set on Hadrian’s Wall at the time of its building. This was (arguably!) the edge of the Roman Empire at the time, and for my Roman main characters, it’s where the fairly stable, predictable Empire they’ve always lived in gives way to wild weather and strange peoples. In my story, at least, there’s so much that they don’t know about the world beyond the Wall that they can actually use that to their advantage in some ways!

I chose this particular frontier because when I was younger, my dad was involved in Roman reenactment, so I learned a lot about the Romans on weekends and holidays, usually through visiting castles to watch their displays of marching, weapons, and even mock battles. I was a little worried that this particular frontier might be a bit too distant from other people’s for this anthology, but I’ve since learned that mine is actually not the farthest-flung! I love that we got to include a range of different frontiers, and I’m glad I could add to that variety.

“The Frontier of the Heart” by Sara L. Uckelman

I grew up watching Star Trek, so of course the first thing I think of when I hear “frontier” is “Space: The Final Frontier”.  Even as a child, I remember finding that a perplexing phrase, because surely the frontier moves as it is explored, so how could any frontier be the final one?  That was the inspiration for the story: A far-future space-exploration where every new planet is its own frontier to be explored.  And then, of course, my characters had to face their own personal frontiers, the boundaries they thought they’d never be strong enough to cross.

For more information: https://juliebozza.com/book/queer-weird-west-tales

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60680276-queer-weird-west-tales

Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/3kLRAn

Inside an Anthology: Eternally Hers

Today on the site, we’re joining four bestselling, award-winning Sapphic romance authors for a look inside Eternally Hers, a collection of paranormal romance stories, launching today in Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and paperback!

Under a full moon, all creatures will succumb to their fate.

Explore your wildest fantasies with these page-turning lesbian paranormal romances designed to captivate you.

Fated mates.

Destined lovers.

The overwhelming instinct to complete the preordained bond will drive these women to do what they must to satisfy the need to mate.

This collection of sapphic romance tales has something for everyone, from sweet to steamy, to dark and thrilling.

The stories in the compilation are exclusive and can’t be found anywhere else. Don’t wait, this box set will only be available for a limited time before it is gone forever!

Buy it on Amazon

Here are the authors sharing a bit about their stories!

“Hot For Her Bear” by Ariel Marie

Hot for Her Bear is a steamy, bear shifter romance. A forbidden, age gap romance between a human attracted to her best friend’s older sister, what is a girl to do? We’ve all had that one crush we shouldn’t have, but are we brave enough to pursue them? I love writing bear shifters. I’ve always imagined them grumpy and possessive.

I had so much fun writing this story. Our bear shifter is an awkward, grumpy bear who shouldn’t be giving in to the desires of her little sister’s friend, but how can she resist? Fate is involved.

And we all know fate always has her way!

“Cougar Woods” by Tiana Warner

Cougar Woods is a shifter romance with a sassy twist: it’s about cougars who shift into cougars. Like, middle-aged women who are feline shifters. I love an age-gap romance, and I love the idea of a group of confident, sexy, supernatural women. Pair that with a forbidden sapphic romance, and this story was super fun to write! Twenty-year-old Liza heads to the town called Cougar Woods to investigate her twin brother’s disappearance. What she finds is a dark secret—and an irresistible pull toward a mysterious woman named Winter.

“Crimson Desires” by K.L. Bone

Several years ago, I took a trip through the vineyards of Épernay, France. The beauty of the land and the lure of the vines inspired the setting of Crimson Desires. Vampires Suzette and Yelena experience a passionate romance throughout moonlight walks and sultry nights along the vineyards of the French countryside. One a pure-blood vampire, one a human turned, their path to love is a tumultuous liaison of tangled hearts and fated destinies.

Vampires are amongst my favorite paranormal creatures to write, as I have a master’s degree with a focus in vampire literature. I am very excited to have been able to combine my enchantment with the French countryside and my fascination with immortal vampires in the love story of Suzette and Yelena. I hope you enjoy their journey among the French vines.

“Eldas Zephyr” by Renee Hewett

Elda’s Zephyr is about star-crossed lovers: a vampire falling for a fae… but with a twist! Zeph is fae crossed with wolf shifter, so though she knows she’s supposed to stay away from vampires, her fated mate sense tells her that she belongs with Elda. Zeph’s fae council is convinced that a vampire will drain any fae they can get their hands on, but Zeph is ready to challenge that thinking and prove that true love between light and dark can exist. Zeph believes in her, but Elda doesn’t know if she does. She’s afraid that the vampire darkness inside of her can’t be controlled if she lets herself have a moment of bliss with the fae.

Inside an Anthology: Fools in Love ed. by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos

Today’s edition of Inside and Anthology celebrates Fools in Love, ed. by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos, and releasing tomorrow from Running Press! Here’s the info:

Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they reimagine some of the most popular tropes in the romance genre. 

Fake relationships. Enemies to lovers. Love triangles and best friends, mistaken identities and missed connections. This collection of genre-bending and original stories celebrates how love always finds a way, featuring powerful flora, a superhero and his nemesis, a fantastical sled race through snow-capped mountains, a golf tournament, the wrong ride-share, and even the end of the world. With stories written by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters this collection is sure to sweep you off your feet.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

And here are the authors of a bunch of the stories, sharing a bit about the story behind the story!

“Edges” by Ashley Herring Blake

“Edges” is an f/f story about a girl who feels everyone has left her behind–including the popular girl she’s currently making out with. Mac can’t believe that Clover–their schoo’s queer queen bee–could possibly actually truly like her. After all, her dad left her family for another one, her mom is hardly ever home, and her twin sister left town altogether for a performing arts boarding school. She’s inherently leavable. So when it becomes clear that Clover wants more than just hooking up, Mac has to decide if she’s willing to soften up her edges a bit for the girl of her dreams.

“Disaster” by Rebecca Podos

I know an homage to 90’s era disaster films might not be the most natural pairing for a romance trope anthology, but setting “Disaster” during a potential apocalypse in 1998 felt perfect for my trope, second-chance romance (and, possibly, a last-chance romance). It also gave me the opportunity to explore a time period before bisexuality was regularly spoken about, even within queer circles. My story about two ex-girlfriends trying to find their way back to one another at the maybe-end of the world takes place the year after America’s first openly bisexual state official came out, a few months before the bisexual pride flag was unveiled, and a year before the first Celebrate Bisexuality Day. Plus, I got to smuggle in Armageddon references (and watch the movie three times in a row, you know, for research).

“Bloom” by Rebecca Barrow

Listen: when it comes to romance, I am all about the yearning. And what kind of yearning is more exquisite than the kind that reaches across worlds, or universes, or time itself? Blame it on me watching too many mind-bending space movies late at night as a kid, or reading The Amber Spyglass and constantly thinking about benches in Oxford, or binge watching 12 Monkeys in distant pre-pandemic times, but when I had to pick a trope to write about, I couldn’t think of anything better. Maybe it’s the idea of exactly how great a love has to be for it to exist outside of the natural boundaries of our world. Maybe it’s just that there is something so deeply romantic about two people pining for something that shouldn’t be possible. Maybe it’s the bittersweet possibility that actually, love can’t conquer all. Except—sometimes it can. And sometimes, in my mind, all it takes is an extra bit of magic for that love to bloom.

“Silver and Gold” by Natasha Ngan

I’ve always loved wintry settings in books, there’s something just so cosy and romantic about them! Of course, being me, the setting in my story is a touch more dangerous than romantic. Rather than a pretty frosting of snow, it’s a life-threatening blizzard – and the two girls sheltering from it are in the midst of a deadly race. But the riskiest of situations can often be the most bonding, and that’s what we see in “Silver and Gold”, as rivals Mila and Ru are forced to confront their romantic past – and whether there’s space in their futures for each other. I had so much fun writing their story, and I hope you have as much fun reading it!

“My Best Friend’s Girl” by Sara Farizan

My story is about Alia who has always been there for her best friend, Hal, especially since she is the only one who knows he is a burgeoning superhero in Gateway City. She finds it increasingly more difficult to keep all of his superpowered secrets, especially from Hal’s new girlfriend Clara. There’s one secret Alia hasn’t told Hal yet either…

“Unfortunately, Blobs Do Not Eat Snacks” by Rebecca Kim Wells

“I knew a lot of authors would be fighting over the more popular romance tropes for this anthology, so I went with one of my favorite under-the-radar tropes, one so under the radar I didn’t even know what it was called! I think when I emailed Becca and Ashley about my trope preferences I called it “gets drunk/drugged/injured/delirious and confesses love, later does not remember/pretends they do not remember.” Which is a mouthful! ‘Kissing Under the Influence” is a lot snappier. I love the awkward interactions after characters accidentally give away things they didn’t intend to reveal, and my young adult fantasy novels are on the serious side, so I really wanted to play around and be goofy with my short story. The result is “Unfortunately, Blobs Do Not Eat Snacks,” which is weird and quirky and not much like my previous work at all. (Also, I love my title so much and still have a hard time believing they actually let me keep it.)”

“What Makes Us Heroes” by Julian Winters

Everyone knows I love writing about superheroes! But when I picked my trope—Hero vs. Villain—for Fools in Love, I honestly didn’t know what kind of romantic story I wanted to tell. Should I go explosive and action-packed like a Marvel movie? Dark and introspective like a DC comic? How could I turn a fresh twist on this epic trope?

And then 2020 happened. Specifically—June 2020.

The news was flooded with videos of violence. Protests. Of people trying to define who the heroes were and purposefully villainizing the ones fighting for a change. All I thought about were the teens ready to take action for their friends, family, themselves and how people were ready to villainize them for having a voice—including the ones who are supposed to love and protect them.

Suddenly, “What Makes Us Heroes” poured out of me. Shai and Kyan’s story came to life. I wanted a story about two superpowered boys navigating a world telling them what a hero should be and letting them define who a hero can be. How we can fall in love with the one person everyone thinks is “wrong” for us but is really the best thing we had all along.

The fact that I got to set it in a coffeeshop with a side of fake dating was a bonus!

As it happens, there are a few stories in the anthology that aren’t queer. (It happens.) A couple of those authors wrote blurbs too:

“Teed Up” by Gloria Chao”

“Teed Up” is loosely inspired by LPGA superstar Michelle Wie West, the first and thus far only female golfer to qualify for a USGA national men’s tournament (among many many other accolades). I myself am a terrible golfer, but I unfortunately have my share of experience dealing with large male egos in other domains. I wanted to explore the idea of being the only woman competing in a field of men in my short story for FOOLS IN LOVE, titled “Teed Up.” Sunny Chang, a star female golfer, is wary of any attention—both positive and negative—coming from a male competitor, which creates the perfect opportunity for an oblivious-to-lovers story. Even though most of the details are fictionalized, I had a lot of fun temporarily putting myself in Michelle’s superstar shoes!

“The Passover Date” by Laura Silverman

“The Passover Date rolls up everything I love into one story – Jewish cooking, fake dating, and nosey family members. I had so much fun writing this Jewish romance. My characters Rachel and Matthew are sweet and funny and adorably bumbling.

I hope readers will enjoy watching them fake date their way into something real.”

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness ed. by dave ring

Brace yourself for an extreeeemely killer lineup, because that’s what you’re getting with Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness, along with, you know, the the titular tales. Coming to you in October 2021 from Neon Hemlock Press, Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness is a speculative anthology edited by dave ring of queer witches, infinite darkness and the knife edge between the sacred and the profane.

Unfettered Hexes asks you to sling salt in a circle, call the corners, and breathe life into the unutterable cadences that call forth the void. Find your coven, craft new rituals and hex your enemies.

This anthology launched on Kickstarter and ran December 2nd to January 1st, hitting 207% of the initial goal. Pre-orders are currently open via Backerkit.

The anthology will include work from:

  • Rasha Abdulhadi
  • Sharang Biswas
  • C.B. Blanchard
  • Die Booth
  • Priya Chand
  • Tania Chen
  • H.A. Clarke
  • Kel Coleman
  • Amelia Fisher
  • Craig L. Gidney
  • Diana Hurlburt
  • Tamara Jerée
  • Ruth Joffre
  • Marianne Kirby
  • L.D. Lewis
  • Danny Lore
  • Hanna A. Nirav
  • Chelsea Obodoechina
  • Suzan Palumbo
  • Nicasio Reed
  • Almah LaVon Rice
  • Jordan Shiveley
  • Cecilia Tan
  • R.J. Theodore
  • Elizabeth Twist

The book will also include:

  • Comics from Grace Fong, Caleb Hosalla & Viane Londoño
  • Story games from Mercedes Acosta & Allie Bustion
  • Art from Matt Spencer & Frances P

Matt Spencer is also working with editor dave ring on an oracle deck inspired by the stories from the anthology. (You can also preview the mostly-completed cards here. )

And now, the jawdropping cover, illustrated by Robin Ha!

What’s that? You wanna see the full flap?? Yeah, we’ve got that too!

Preorder Unfettered Hexes!

dave ring is a queer editor and writer of speculative fiction living in Washington, DC. He is the publisher and managing editor of Neon Hemlock Press, and the co-editor of Baffling Magazine.  He is also a chair emeritus of the OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival.

He is the editor of the upcoming anthology Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness (Neon Hemlock Press, 2021) as well as Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was (Mason Jar Press, 2018) and Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die (Neon Hemlock Press, 2020).

dave was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow, a 2018 resident of Futurescapes and Disquiet, and a 2019 resident of Sundress Academy for the Arts.  His short fiction has been featured in numerous publications including Fireside Fiction, Podcastle, and A Punk Rock Future. Find him at www.dave-ring.com or @slickhop on Twitter.

Book Giveaway: That Way Madness Lies ed. by Dahlia Adler

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of LGBTQReads, but today we are celebrating a different creation of mine (because really, why run your own space on the internet if not to celebrate yourself as often as possible): That Way Madness Lies: XV of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined!

Of course, though I’m the editor of this one (and also wrote a story), anthologies do not happen without the brilliant authors behind the contributions, especially the queer ones! Here’s the copy including the official lineup:

Fifteen acclaimed YA writers put their modern spin on William Shakespeare’s celebrated classics! West Side Story. 10 Things I Hate About You. Kiss Me, Kate. Contemporary audiences have always craved reimaginings of Shakespeare’s most beloved works. Now, some of today’s best writers for teens take on the Bard in these 15 whip-smart and original retellings!

Contributors include Dahlia Adler (reimagining The Merchant of Venice), Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew), Lily Anderson (As You Like It), Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet), Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale), A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing), Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147), Joy McCullough (King Lear), Anna-Marie McLemore (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Samantha Mabry (Macbeth), Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus), Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night), Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar), Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet), and Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest).

Bookshop | Indiebound | Target | Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble

***

No purchase necessary. The giveaway is open internationally to entrants 18 and older. Entry period begins at 12:00 p.m. EST on 3/16/21 and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on 3/21/21. Void where prohibited.

***To enter, tell us your favorite queer retelling in the comments!***

Exclusive Cover Reveal: This is Our Rainbow ed. by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby

I am THE MOST excited to be sharing this cover reveal today, not just because I happen to adore the editors personally and not just because the cover is adorable, and not even just because the actually collection sounds incredible and so, so necessary, but because as you’ll read, I had a little hand in this one!

This is Our Rainbow is an all-LGBTQ+ Middle Grade anthology edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby, releasing from Knopf on October 19, 2021, and here to share the cover and the story behind it are the editors themselves!

***

We are SO EXCITED to bring you the cover of This is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Him, Her, Them and Us, our LGBTQ+ middle grade anthology!

This anthology has been such a joyful experience from start to finish…and it started with a tweet! Dahlia, who is no stranger to editing anthologies, tweeted that she really hoped there was a queer middle grade anthology in the works, and that she would help whoever decided to take this on however they needed. When Nicole expressed interest, Dahlia got her in touch with Katherine (who had just finished up on It’s a Whole Spiel so had the anthology editor experience).

We clicked immediately and got brainstorming. Meanwhile, our editor at Knopf, Marisa DiNovis, responded to Dahlia’s tweet, too, saying that a queer middle grade anthology was literally her dream. It’s only fitting that we’re doing the cover reveal here, on Dahlia’s blog, seeing as she helped make this whole thing possible!

So Twitter can be a force for good!

These stories are full of so much heart and joy and thoughtfulness, and we cannot wait to share each and every one of these with readers.

This is Our Rainbow

The first LGBTQ+ anthology for middle-graders featuring stories for every letter of the acronym, including realistic, fantasy, and sci-fi stories by authors like Justina Ireland, Marieke Nijkamp, Alex Gino, and more!

A boyband fandom becomes a conduit to coming out. A former bully becomes a first-kiss prospect. One nonbinary kid searches for an inclusive athletic community after quitting gymnastics. Another nonbinary kid, who happens to be a pirate, makes a wish that comes true–but not how they thought it would. A tween girl navigates a crush on her friend’s mom. A young witch turns herself into a puppy to win over a new neighbor. A trans girl empowers her online bestie to come out.

From wind-breathing dragons to first crushes, This Is Our Rainbow features story after story of joyful, proud LGBTQIA+ representation. You will fall in love with this insightful, poignant anthology of queer fantasy, historical, and contemporary stories from authors including: Eric Bell, Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Ashley Herring Blake, Lisa Bunker, Alex Gino, Justina Ireland, Shing Yin Khor, Katherine Locke, Mariama J. Lockington, Nicole Melleby, Marieke Nijkamp, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro, Molly Knox Ostertag, Aida Salazar, and AJ Sass.

But today, we get to share the most glorious cover either of us have ever seen with YOU.

We are COMPLETELY obsessed with this cover with by Jes and Cin, designed by Sylvia Bi! Like, COMPLETELY OBSESSED.

Without further ado…here it is!

We LOVE this cover. Seeing such joy and pride and so many different representations on the cover of a middle grade book was a dream come true. We love that it’s so bright and happy; queer children getting to be themselves and happy and celebrating themselves was exactly what we wanted on the inside of this anthology, so we love that you can so clearly see that from this cover. And we can’t wait to share the back of the book too in a few months with more characters and more joy!

And we wanted to share more from the artists too! Here’s what Jes and Cin had to say about working on the cover:

What excited you about working on This Is Our Rainbow?

We were so excited that this was the first middle grade anthology about queer identities! We’re extremely passionate about queer representation in kids’ media, and seeing this diverse collection of stories and creatives was something we absolutely wanted (and are very honored) to be a part of.

How did you envision the cover?

The cover was a fun challenge. Fitting in all the protagonists and visualizing their flags into a book jacket is a lot! Sylvia Bi, the assistant designer, gave us some great prompts and directions to play with! We definitely wanted something bright and colorful, that showcased happy queer children celebrating themselves as individuals but also as a community. Reading the stories in this anthology really solidified how this cover would look.

What were your inspirations for the cover’s direction?

We were largely inspired by Naomi Franquiz’s cover for ToComix Press’ Shout Out Anthology! She put so much personality and individuality to the characters on that cover. We wanted the kids to interact with each other for This is Our Rainbow. Like a “warm gay hug” feeling! We also pulled from our experience going to Pride events. The many ways people joyfully expressed their identities through pins, flags, capes, and flower crowns was something we wanted to bring into the cover.

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This is Our Rainbow releases on October 19th, 2021, and you can find more information and where to buy This is Our Rainbow here!

Preorder: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Katherine Locke lives and writes in Philadelphia where they are ruled by their feline overlords and their addiction to chai lattes. They are the award-winning author of THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON, THE SPY WITH THE RED BALLOON, editor-and-contributor to IT’S A WHOLE SPIEL, and other titles. They not-so-secretly believe most stories are fairytales in disguise. They can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @bibliogato, and on katherinelockebooks.com.

Nicole Melleby, a born-and-bred Jersey girl, is the author of HURRICANE SEASON, which was a Lambda Literary Finalist, IN THE ROLE OF BRIE HUTCHENS…, a Kirkus Reviews best book of the year, and the upcoming HOW TO BECOME A PLANET (May 2021). She lives with her partner and their cat, whose need for attention oddly aligns with Nicole’s writing schedule. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @LadyNeeko

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Vol. 5 ed. by Sinclair Sexsmith

Today on the site, we’re revealing the sweet and sexy cover of Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year (Vol. 5), which releases from Cleis Press on December 8th! Get more info here, including the identities within:

Testing the boundaries of pleasure and pain… To be so full of longing you ache for release… Coming to climax without a single touch.

The fifth volume of the Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year anthology series explores and expands on the very definition of eroticism with a diverse mix of queer, non-binary, trans, and polyamorous #ownvoices that will have you quivering with delight and wondering what more you can explore—no matter how you identify. More than just steamy sex stories, this volume offers the quiet sexuality of emotional security, the overwhelming thrill of discovering something new, and a tale for every taste—from vanilla to kink to strap-ons and sodomy.

Now more than ever, it is crucial to see unique, underrepresented viewpoints across the literary spectrum. Award-winning author and editor Sinclair Sexsmith delivers in an anthology that is both tender and tantalizing, emotional and evocative.

And here’s the cover, designed by Jennifer Do!

Preorder: Cleis Press | Amazon 

Photo by Bill Wadman

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is “the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers” (AfterEllen), who “is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places” (Autostraddle). Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Find more of their work at sugarbutch.net.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die

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!

Preorder Glitter + Ashes here!

(Psst, wanna see the full flap? We’ve got that too!)

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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.

dave was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow, a 2018 resident of Futurescapes and Disquiet, and a 2019 resident of Sundress Academy for the Arts.  He has stories featured or forthcoming in more than two dozen publications, including Fireside Fiction, GlitterShip, and A Punk Rock Future.

More info at www.dave-ring.com.  Follow him on Twitter at @slickhop.

Inside an Anthology: Out Now: Queer We Go Again! ed. by Saundra Mitchell

Today on the site, we’re thrilled to welcome the authors of Out Now: Queer We Go Again! edited by Saundra Mitchell, which releases today from Inkyard Press! This anthology has a little bit of everything queer, so take a gander at the beautiful cover, check out the blurb, and then dig into the authors’ personal stories behind their stories!

Out Now: Queer We Go Again! ed. by Saundra Mitchell

A follow-up to the critically acclaimed All Out anthology, Out Now features seventeen new short stories from amazing queer YA authors. Vampires crash prom, aliens run from the government, a president’s daughter comes into her own, a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer, a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. Teapots and barbershops, skateboards and VW vans, Street Fighter and Ares’s sword: Out Now has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

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“Refresh” by Mark Oshiro

I was a freshman in college in Long Beach, CA, when I went on the very date that inspired “Refresh.” Online dating was much sketchier back then, but I had spent weeks talking to a boy my age who seemed so effortlessly cool. I finally mustered the courage to ask if he wanted to meet up, and he agreed enthusiastically. I knew this was risky, so I picked a public meeting space outside of a Metro Station in Hollywood. It took me two trains and nearly two hours to get there, so you can imagine my disappointment when I showed up to discover he had catfished me.

My date did not end as the story does in “Refresh.” I left immediately, feeling scorned and rather foolish. I had worked up so much courage to even come, doubting that I was handsome enough or interesting enough for this person. I wrote this story from that place of vulnerability, of not knowing if you are enough for another person, of existing in a world where the politics around the size and shape of our bodies make life harder. It’s a bit of queer fluff, and I had so much fun writing it.

“What Happens in the Closet” by Caleb Roehrig

When I first sat down to begin my contribution for OUT NOW, I outlined the story of a theater kid with a crush on a boy who might or might not be queer—and then I struggled to write it. Even though it was ripped straight from the headlines of my own teenage life, I couldn’t quite connect with the narrative I was crafting. Where were the stakes?

Among my influences as a storyteller, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is probably number one. It was inventive and suspenseful, of course, but it balanced its undead bombast with nuanced and sensitive explorations of very real day-to-day issues. On a season three episode entitled Homecoming, Buffy and her frenemy Cordelia are forced to hash out their longstanding jealousy and insecurities…all while fighting for their lives against vampire assassins. It was a brilliant metaphor for the fishbowl of high school life, and the layered dynamic between the two characters still felt so rich with potential for more.

What if it had been two queer kids trapped together instead, with physical attraction added to the already volatile cocktail of envy and admiration? What if they’d had to navigate those life-or-death problems while also, you know, trying to literally just stay alive?

Eventually, I asked if I could go ahead and lean into it—to write a story about two boys facing their demons (figurative and literal,) where a vampire invasion is only the second-most annoying thing about a ruined school dance; and I am forever grateful to Saundra Mitchell for saying yes. The universe I created for “What Happens in the Closet” was so much fun that I used it as the basis for a full-length novel, (The Fell of Dark, coming in July!) and I hope you love this fun and fang-toothed tale as much as I do!

“Star-Crossed in D.C.” by Jessica Verdi

The idea for this story sparked for me around the time of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when I saw posts on social media about Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump (two adult children of the two nominees) being friendly in real life. It confused me, honestly, since they seem to stand for very different things. How on earth could they be friends?

But then I wondered, what if Ivanka did secretly agree more with Chelsea and her mother Hillary more than she let on in public—if maybe she had an obligation to stand by her father’s side, but deep down disagreed with him on the issues. (I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Come on, Jess, Ivanka has made her opinions more than clear.” But this was years ago, before any of that was as blatantly evident as it is now.) And then I wondered, how amazing would it be if Ivanka (or any child of a high-profile conservative politician) had enough of a backbone to buck tradition, and what was expected of them, and publicly announce their support for the other candidate—the more progressive one. How absolutely inspiring and thrilling would that be!

Over time, the real-life inspiration for “Star-Crossed” fell away, and what remains is something a bit more romancey, a lot more queer, and even more wish-fulfilling. It’s my version of a fairy tale.

“Floating” by Tanya Boteju

“Floating” grew directly out of my experience as a high school English teacher. I’m surrounded by teenagers and tend to most notice the kids who seem a little out of place—the ones who sit alone in corners at lunch, who aren’t wholly driven by ‘A’s and university acceptances, who offer up weird and wonderful insights into the literature we’re studying. One student I noticed a few years ago kind of floated through the hallways, seemingly in a world of her own. And having taught her, I also knew she had one of those weird and wonderful minds. I was curious about what her brain was doing as she drifted through the school. The protagonist in “Floating,” Shanti, is my attempt to explore the inner workings of students like this and what it might look like for someone else to be able to reach into those inner workings somehow–as Essie does—but without changing who Shanti is at the core. I wanted Shanti to be able to maintain her wanderings and wonderings, but then to also find a gentle stillness with Essie. That it was two girls finding each other just felt natural to me. Many of the setting details in the story are pulled from my own school too—including the paper swirls that become so integral to the story.

Photo courtesy of Monique Cheung
Photo courtesy of Monique Cheung

“Far From Home” by Saundra Mitchell

I wasn’t going to write a story for my own anthology (I didn’t have one in All Out, either!) but my wonderful editor at Inkyard, Natashya Wilson, really, really, really wanted one. And it’s hard to say no when someone brilliant is saying, “please write a thing for me, I think it would be great.”

“Far From Home” may or may not be great– that’s not up for me to decide. But I did have a lot of fun writing it. I wanted to write a non-binary character, so check, and I wanted the genders and orientations of the characters to be as far from central as possible.

Also, my reviews agree that sometimes, my novels are slow to start. So I wondered, what would happen if I just started with the danger? And that’s how I end up with a non-binary starboi and their pan boyfriend dangling a thousand feet above an empty creekbed, with Men in Black in pursuit.

I love the conversation they have– because we love superhero movies, but I’m not entirely sure we’d be thrilled with actual superheroes. So yeah… write fast, write hard, no mercy! (Well, a little mercy. I love a happy ending!)

“Ready Player One” by Eliot Schrefer

I actually wrote the first incarnation of “Player One Fight!” twenty years ago, and rewrote it to include here. I was 21 at the time, and back then I was prey to a conception that I think a lot of us have when we’re young—that relationships are a form of battle, with winners and losers. That if you do all the moves right, then you’ll come out on top. Through Blake I wanted to look at the early life of someone who still had a lot of room to grow as far as how he treated boyfriends, and himself.

“Victory Lap” by Julian Winters

In “Victory Lap,” Luke Stone is great at everything, but there’s one thing he repeatedly fails at: asking a boy out. Specifically, he hasn’t found a date to the winter formal. His friends are putting more effort into finding him a date than he is. That is until Luke bumps into Milo, a shy classmate who Luke thinks is his perfect match, if he can get the nerve to ask Milo out. And the one person who he knows he can get the best advice from doesn’t know he’s gay yet—his dad.

When I first started writing this story, I had two goals: write a cute love story starring a gay, Black teen who’s still becoming comfortable in his own skin and set it in a barbershop, a place that is well-known in the Black community as a place of comfort, strength, laughter, and discourse. I didn’t plan to write a “coming out” story but the moment Luke sits in his dad’s barber chair, I knew the story I needed to tell. It was an opportunity to show a positive experience between a queer teen and his father, something that isn’t often depicted, especially inside POC communities. QPOC teens deserve to read stories where they feel safe and comforted by their loved ones. And I hope readers walk away from this story feeling lighter, confident, and smiling goofily just like Luke.

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Photo by Jared Hagan

Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture-deliverer and a layout waxer. She’s dodged trains, endured basic training, and hitchhiked from Montana to California. The author of nearly twenty books for tweens and teens, Mitchell’s work includes SHADOWED SUMMER, THE VESPERTINE series, ALL THE THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK, a novel forthcoming from HarperTEEN and the forthcoming CAMP MURDERFACE series with Josh Berk. She is the editor of three anthologies for teens, DEFY THE DARK, ALL OUT and OUT NOW. She always picks truth; dares are too easy.