Tag Archives: Cherry

Inside an Anthology: Longsummer Nights ed. by Dayna K. Smith

Welcome back to Inside an Anthology, the feature where authors of queer anthology contributions come to share a little more on their stories! Today we’re checking out Longsummer Nights ed. by Dayna K. Smith, a queer paranormal romance anthology with 15 contributions that just released in May! Come check it out!

60127180. sy475 Have you ever dreamed that the dark eyes staring at you across the bar might belong to a vampire? When you watch horror movies, do you find yourself doodling the monstrous antagonist’s name in hearts the next day? If we’ve got you nodding your head, stick around!

If you’re looking for love in all the wrong places (like under the bed, or in creepy old crypts), we welcome you to pack your bags and visit the historical and haunted city of Longsummer. In the new paranormal (and very queer) romance anthology Longsummer Nights, edited by Dayna K. Smith, readers will experience a variety of thrilling original stories of love among monsters. The fifteen authors who contributed to this project are members of the VOW Collective, a group of game writers who went on the first ever strike in the history of the North American Games Industry in 2020. Our monster-loving authors include: Cyrus Adams, Cherry, Alix Comeau, A.K. Fedeau, Eve Golden-Woods, Rien Gray, A. Hendricks, T.K. Hirst, Arson Kidder, Abigail Laughlin, Amanda Louise, Margot Madison, Frances Maple, Devan Soyka, and Fisher Strunc.

In this edition of LGBTQ Reads’ “Inside An Anthology,” ten of the authors who wrote Longsummer Nights have shared a bit about which monsters they chose to write about, and what made them so chillingly irresistible.

“What Happened At Wisteria House” by Margot Madison

My contribution to the anthology started with a random yet spicy thought: how would one have sex with a ghost? As soon as the question popped into my head, I found myself compelled by the challenge of writing a story around it. My solution was to play with consensual possession. That would require a lot of trust between the parties involved…which led to a very tasty enemies-to-lovers opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. But who would be the lucky possess-ee? At first I thought it would be a regular human mortal, but as a witch myself, I couldn’t resist the urge to include one in the story. And thus, two unlikely roommates were born: Asha, a witch who moves back to her family’s old house in Longsummer for a fresh start, and Ruth, the ghost who’s been haunting the house in Asha’s absence. The two women are used to feeling alone and adrift in the world. Can they overcome their individual insecurities and traumas to make Wisteria House – and one another – their home?

“A Simply Miraculous Invention” by Frances Maples

The “monster” in my story is a life-size dancing doll that gains sentience. As soon as our group decided on the theme of monster romance, I knew I wanted my story to riff on the trope of “teaching a robot to love.” I’ve always been fascinated with the way robots are used in fiction, and even wrote a term paper on it in college, so the choice was an easy one. The dancing doll portion of my idea came later, as I started thinking more about the way human-like inanimate objects are used to express sexuality and gender. We have sex dolls, mannequins at department stores that have historically been used to model how people “should” dress along gendered lines, and we have children’s dolls that have historically also been bifurcated along strict gendered lines: Barbie for girls and G.I. Joe for boys. What caught my attention most in my research was the ballet titled Coppélia. It’s about a man who invents a dancing doll, falls in love with it, and tries (unsuccessfully) to bring it to life. I was fascinated with this idea of a doll being an expression of a cishet man’s ideal woman: beautiful and inanimate. There’s something scary about a dancing doll as well, an inanimate object that moves despite having no free will. That, too, echoes the way so many cishet men have an innate fear of women and femininity. The idea of this doll, designed to be an object of cishet male desire, coming to life and having a mind of their own, felt a lot to me like being assigned female at birth. In robot fiction there is constantly a thematic struggle between what a robot is created to do and what the robot wants to do once they have gained sentience. The idea of assigned gender vs gender identity felt like a natural progression of that theme to me. My story is heavily inspired by the ballet Coppélia, but is also a love letter to all the disaster enbies out there.

“labrys” by Cherry

I think I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, so when the theme of “monster romances” came up, my first thought was, “so Theseus and the minotaur fall in love instead”. And that was kind of where it started — at first, I had this grand vision about how the entire story would be one of self discovery (and in the end, I think I kind of, sort of, got there), but as the story grew, I knew it would become more of an exploration of what constitutes “monster”. More than anything, I chose this “type” of monster because we can find them littered throughout the most iconic stories, across every single culture — monsters that are monsters because we’ve decided they are. But they never get to speak for themselves; and then what if we turn that inwards, to look at ourselves and ask — aren’t we just as monstrous, if not more so, by choosing actively to segregate and separate ourselves from something or someone just because they are different, just because we’ve never tried to understand them? One of my favorite quotes from a book goes something like: “There’s not a monster dreamt that did not first walk within the soul of man.”

“Toothpick” by Arson Kidder

While we were all spitballing our prompts for the anthology, I suggested writing about a mermaid, and another writer shouted back “ALLIGATOR mermaid!” and I knew immediately I had to do it. The idea of selkies with their sealskin jackets wouldn’t leave me alone either. What if it was an alligator leather jacket and she needed it to transform from human to gator form? Then I worked around what kind of person could comfortably rock that as their casual everyday look, and Reina with her cowboy boots and her braggadocious energy was born. I’m grateful the other writers encouraged me to make her as uber-powerful and important as I wanted, to the point that she became a demigod of the city. Go big or go home, right? Then I started playing around with the idea of alligators being a metaphor for death itself, and the story just unfolded on its own after that…

“Corylus and Stone” by Amanda Louise

I chose to write a love story about lesbian faeries because I already had too many ideas about fae lore. For example, in some circles, the fair folk have a reputation for being tricksters. Wouldn’t that reputation lead to different treatment from those non-fae who might be wary of being tricked? Or what about from those who have already been tricked, like parents who raise changeling children?

Thus came the idea for Stone, a fairy raised among humans who was made to use her glamour magic to hide her true nature. She resents both being good at glamour and how faeries are treated. Her love interest, Corylus, is a human who was raised in Faerie and has missed magic every second since she left. Her drive to get magic back into her life leads to a tragic accident that makes her view herself as a monster.

I wanted these two lovers who grew up in different worlds with different morals to help each other get past their negative views of self (by finding the other one super sexy) and come to terms with their issues surrounding magic (by using it in a love scene).

“Indelible and Nocturnal” by T.K. Hirst

I had this idea to combine my two loves—Formula 1 and writing—into this thing. I knew I wanted to write something that was a little different; something a little meaner, and I wanted to incorporate vampires, because they’re sick, for lack of a better term. Also, creating an elusive vampiric character being absolutely destroyed by his younger, naive human counterpart was just fun to write! I chose this type of monster because I believed that vampires deserve some sort of retribution in the form of a young hot-shot driver willing to ruin your life. Life’s fun that way!

“The Antidote to Memory” by Eve Golden-Woods

I started with visuals. I knew I wanted a monster that wasn’t remotely human, something that would seem truly unnerving and alien. I had certain elements in mind immediately – a big height difference, altered facial features (the Curator has no nose, only slit nostrils, a classic choice for a creature meant to be scary rather than sexy). I was definitely influenced by things like The Shape of Water, along with other stories I’d recently read/seen, and I wanted to play with similar ideas but in a wlw space. I think other writer’s answers will probably delve into the queer/monstrous connection that a lot of us resonate with, but I should also add that I find stories of women who are not and cannot be traditionally beautiful very important, so that was something I wanted to explore for myself. There isn’t really a classical folkloric creature who fits what the Curator is, although lots of contemporary reimaginings of water monsters get close. She calls herself a troll in the story, which is a fairly flexible fantasy term, but I wish I’d been able to find an actual Irish folktale to link her to. Unfortunately, for all the bog we have, Ireland has a real dearth of bog monsters. But although the specifics are all my own invention, the idea of a big, dangerous creature who lives just enough off the beaten track that she might catch you if you get lost is something that a lot of cultures share.

“Seeds of Solace”  by Rien Gray

The first image I had for this story was of an overgrown Southern manor, years of artifice being pulled back into the earth. As that expanded to a garden–with statues–the image of a gorgon sitting among the ruins came to mind. Yet I wanted her to be out of place, a hard and cold beacon in the midst of summer, so she became the love interest, intruding on my protagonist River and their ancestral home. River is, for all intents and purposes, a sentient plant, although they’re not aware they were grown by their mother inside the house until returning home in the wake of her death. Since I wanted a natural connection to the house and to explore the transformation that comes from grief, having them literally bloom over the course of the story made perfect sense.

“Virgin Cocktail” by Fisher Strunch

It would be easy to say I pursued a vampiric romance simply because I like vampires and think they’re sexy—honestly, even I thought that was the most accurate reading of my inspiration at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had really been seeking something entirely different: intimacy. There’s an intimacy beyond the traditionally romantic or sexual in vampiric fiction, and most specifically in the concept of consensual blood drinking. Beyond simply (though of course it’s not simple at all) baring your heart to another, of trusting a partner to see you wholly and accept you all the same, you’re putting your life in a vampire’s hands. And, in turn, a non-vampiric participant is literally giving a part of themselves so their vampiric lover may live. Obviously, it’s a bit intense for real life, but that’s the appeal of fantasy, isn’t it? And after living for two years and counting in almost complete isolation, some fantastical, bigger-than-life intimacy is exactly what I was craving.

“Mending Ribbons” by Cyrus Adams

I was really into second chance romances when I started brainstorming this story. In a magic-focused story, I knew that whatever broke my love interests apart, it would have to be related to the magical abilities of one person or, more specifically, how the magical love interest resented that side of himself. I don’t remember how I came around to the choice of making Tristan a witch specifically, but I know the first thing I thought of was having a character who made a career out of his magic, and perhaps he found that was all it was good for. One of his greatest challenges would be facing someone who was fascinated with his magic, and saw it as a gift, rather than the curse Tristan saw it as. Which was also how I made the decision to give Tristan a literal curse. And that’s how the foundation of the story was laid down! A freelancing witch gets hired by a man who needs his magical powers; they fall in love. Kai loves how careful Tristan is with his magic, Tristan loves that Kai can see beauty everywhere he looks…and a curse tears them apart. So this is a story about Tristan learning that there are beautiful sides to his magic and himself, but it’s also about Kai being faced with the ugly truths, and deciding if he wants to stick around to see them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This e-book anthology can be purchased for $15 USD on Kobo (https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/longsummer-nights) or itch.io (https://vowtogether.itch.io/longsummer-nights)

End of Year Book Survey: 2016

This is one of my favorite posts (courtesy of Jamie of Perpetual Page Turner) to do on my personal blog, and I thought it’d be fun to bring it here, using just the LGBTQIAP+ books I’ve read this year, and hear what your answers would be in the comments! (Note: a few of these answers on my personal blog were LGBTQIAP+ books anyway, so those have been copy-pasted here.) So, let’s see how this goes:

2016 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 64 books w/LGBTQIAP+ protags
Number of Re-Reads: Just Out on Good Behavior, for obvious reasons!
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary YA

  1. Best Book You Read in 2016:

YA Fantasy: And I Darken by Kiersten White
YA Contemporary: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
YA Thriller: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
YA Sci-Fi: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
NA Romance: Hold Me by Courtney Milan
Adult Romance: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Pretty much any book I expected/hoped would have better representation than it does.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Best surprises are the ones that had queer POVs in books I definitely did not expect to see them in, and wouldn’t necessarily have read this year (if ever) if bloggers didn’t push me to! So: Cherry by Lindsey Rosin, Winning by Lara Deloza, and This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I asked Twitter, and apparently it’s between Cherry by Lindsey Rosin, The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie, and This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin!

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Series Started: Five Boroughs by Santino Hassell and Cyberlove by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell. I’m much worse about reading YA series than I am about Romance series, but I’m super excited to read the sequels to And I Darken by Kiersten White (i.e. Now I Rise), Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (i.e. Not Your Villain), and The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (i.e. The Edge of the Abyss).

Sequel: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

Series Ender: Pretty sure Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo’s the only one I read with any queer POVs!

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Santino Hassell – picked up one book, continued to read four more of his throughout the year.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie! I know that conceptually that book is so many people’s dream, but it’s not my usual thing and I found it totally unputdownable. And Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee – not usually a superhero-book reader but this was so much fun, and I’m so psyched it’s gonna be a continuing series.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Apparently The Abyss Surrounds Us!

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Uhhhh definitely at least the opening of Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell. I don’t get much time to reread, but.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

Perfect Ten by L. Philips, which is fun since that was revealed here!

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Juliet from Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. Honestly, in any given year she writes a book, that book’s gonna be the answer.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis. That’s one of my favorite LGBTQIAP YAs of all time now and people were talking about its greatness for SO LONG, but I was slow to it for no good reason.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

To the boys who get called girls,
the girls who get called boys,
and those who live outside these words.
To those called names
and those searching for names of their own.
To those who live on the edges,
and in the spaces in between.
I wish for you every light in the sky.

~the dedication of When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Under Threat by Robin Stevenson (144 pp)
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (536 pp)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith, both because of how scarily compelling I found it and because it’s kinda dark and terrifying.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Oof, this is tough. I think maybe Kai and Garrett from Strong Signal? I am bad at choosing these.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Frances and Aled in Radio Silence by Alice Oseman.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Published in 2016: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Coming in 2017: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
But it feels like a lie not to mention Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake, coming in 2018

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis, which thank God Becky Albertalli finally got me to read. Should also mentioned that I would never have picked up This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin if not for Rachel G. telling me it had an ace MC.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

I am not good at this. Can I pass?

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo and Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

I mean, Leigh Bardugo’s pretty unbeatable here, right? Although definite shoutout to Zoraida Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Published pre-2016: How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis
Published in 2016: Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
Coming post-2016: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (June 20, 2017)

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. It didn’t even happen immediately, but as the book sank in, I just completely lost it.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I feel like in LGBTQIAP+ lit almost everything is a hidden gem because they rarely get decent marketing budgets, but I have such a soft spot for Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, for quietly delivering both (explicit) pan and (implicit) ace rep in a mainstream YA. While both of those words pop up a bunch in 2017 YA, 7WWL was the only mainstream 2016 YA I saw to contain either one. (And yes, it’s also a good book!)

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

For sheer standout beauty, When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith, which is definitely by design and which I utterly loved.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

Queer Lit on my Mind, which isn’t exactly a book blog but it’s a (now-) friend’s Tumblr I think posts great reviews.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

I’m actually a terrible reviewer, and since I keep needing to remind people this isn’t a review site, I’m going to abstain from this question so I don’t send the wrong message!

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Not that I can take any credit for it, personally, but gotta go with Casey Lawrence’s “Goodbye, Bad Bi“!

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Only did one LGBTQ panel this year – with Adam Silvera, Jenn Marie Thorne, and Kenneth Logan – but it was great! Also attended a good one featuring Rebecca Podos, Kenneth Logan, Cordelia Jensen, and I.W. Gregorio.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Kicking off this site, I’d say!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Thank you to guest-posting author Casey Lawrence, whose “Goodbye, Bad Bi” was by far the most popular post on the site this year.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I did hope more people would share the post of Trans Lit Under $5 – most of those books are #ownvoices titles that could definitely use some love!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The LA all-Romance bookstore The Ripped Bodice is amazing, and so great for queer romance. And I’m not just saying that because they made Out on Good Behavior their book club pick one month, but I’m also not not saying that? Because choosing an f/f NA for book club is pretty damn awesome.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Finally launching this site! (And my personal Goodreads challenge of reading 175 books.)


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon – I’ve been saving that series for myself forever!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. I freaking loved Pointe and this character is bi and Jewish, so, no-brainer! But absolutely highly anticipating Noteworthy by Riley Redgate and Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee, both of which sound super clever and fun, and by authors I’m really curious to see more from as well. Redgate did something really fantastic for YA by bringing it its first mainstream on-the-page pansexual character, and Tash reportedly contains fantastic on-the-page ace rep, so, lots to look forward to!

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura, hands-down.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Series Ending: The Savage Dawn by Melissa Grey
Sequel: The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie (which is also a series ending)
Companion: YA: Not Your Villain by CB Lee; Romance: Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Actually have a new “Better Know an Author” up every month. (And yes, I have ones scheduled for January and February!)

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

There are actually a lot of these, which is delightful! How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake, Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley, and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee are three I loved, blurbed, and definitely recommend. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera is fantastic, Perfect Ten by L. Philips and Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde are so delightful, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour is beautiful and emotional and makes you scared to love anyone but also so grateful that you do, and…I could probably go on forever, so I’ll shut up, but you’ll see plenty more in discussion soon!

That’s my year! How was yours?

Fave Five: Contemporary f/f YA with Sex on the Page

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Style by Chelsea M. Cameron

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Cherry by Lindsey Rosin

Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen

Bonus: Coming in 2017, Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley and How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake