Tag Archives: Madeline Dyer

Inside an Anthology: Being Ace ed. by Madeline Dyer

Today on the site I’m delighted to kick off Asexual Awareness Week with a peek inside the new anthology Being Ace, ed. by Madeline Dyer! The collection released earlier this month from Page Street, and we’re about to dig into the contributions. But first! A little more about the anthology:

Discover the infinite realms of asexual love across sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary stories

From a wheelchair user racing to save her kidnapped girlfriend and a little mermaid who loves her sisters more than suitors, to a slayer whose virgin blood keeps attracting monsters, the stories of this anthology are anything but conventional. Whether adventuring through space, outsmarting a vengeful water spirit, or surviving haunted cemeteries, no two aces are the same in these 14 unique works that highlight asexual romance, aromantic love, and identities across the asexual spectrum.

Forward by Cody Daigle-Orians
With Stories by: Linsey Miller, Rosiee Thor, Moniza Hossain, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Emily Victoria S.J. Taylor, RoAnna Sylver, Kat Yuen, K. Hart, Jas Brown, Lara Ameen, S.E. Anderson, Anju Imura, and Madeline Dyer

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

And here’s a glimpse inside the stories!

“No Such Thing As Just” by K. Hart

“No Such Thing As Just” follows Halcion, a nonbinary ace who despite their flamboyant public persona is not out as ace to anyone in their life, and the mysterious threatening letters they begin to receive that seem to be chasing them away from their best friend. The story features examples of emotional abuse from a partner, mentions of drug use, and clear instances of manipulation. It was important for me to write this because as a writer and a person I don’t think that we can ignore the dark parts of the world. However, as with the story and its hopeful end, I want to show people that you don’t have to remove the pain or the darkness, or hide it. Light is there, even if that light looks far different than expected. People who have lived through abuse and trauma rarely see their darkness and light co-exist. I wanted to show, for all of us dark creatures out there, that it can and does, and for every other ace regardless of background to know that we don’t have to squeeze ourselves into a specific mould of love just because we think we should.

“Moonspirited” by Anju Imura

“Moonspirited” has a lot of Ghibli-esque charm to it that I didn’t quite intentionally write into, but I think was needed to balance out the rawness of its core: Grief and alienation from an aroace gaze. There is a scene in Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) that stuck with me since the first time I watched it. Kaguya, a mystical foundling child taken in by a humble old couple who turns out to be from the Moon, is embraced intimately by the Emperor himself—and she rejects him. You see her revulsion, something visceral crosses her face, causing her to call for the Moon to come take her back. To me, it was asexual repulsion, the first representation of that feeling, coded and synthesised from one of Japan’s oldest science fiction stories. Are we, asexuals and aromantics, Moon People? It’s the fascination that started me into imagining deep space worlds ruled by spirits and gods, and where an aroace might be able to reflect, bravely despite all the grievance held in, who she is in a world that divides itself so easily into negative spaces of absence and want. Moonspirited has shifted and transformed since its first iteration, but I hope these ideas can still be found in spirit if not in name.

“Give up the Ghost” by Linsey Miller

“Give up the Ghost” is a story for the aces who made every plant, robot, and ghost joke before anyone else had a chance to. It features Cassandra, an ace girl who has repurposed the assumptions her town has made about her into a job only she can do—ferrying people through a haunted forest to speak to their dead loved ones in the town’s cemetery. The pay is more than good, but what she’s really after are their secrets. Someone murdered her best friend, the friend she never confessed to due to her fear of being rejected for being ace, and she’s determined to find out who before she leaves for college. This story is spooky and hopeful, and it allowed me to explore ace tropes in media. We aren’t ghosts, but sometimes we cling to what haunts us for protection. We’re self-deprecating. We say the jokes first. We force ourselves into uncomfortable situations to prove our worth or our aceness or both. This is a story about laying those ghosts to rest.

“Well Suited” by Rosiee Thor

In “Well Suited,” compulsory allonormativity takes form as a belligerent suit of armor. I was inspired by what the personification of compulsory allonormativity and compulsory heteronormativity  might look like in a fantasy world where something like a human construct can really come alive. It was especially compelling to me within the context of the antagonist being of the characters’ own making. Sir Guy, the suit of armor, is created for the sole purpose of being a fake fiancé for Brindle, a young lady who must find a suitable male escort to her coming out ball. When her best friend, nonbinary wizard Fig, brings Sir Guy to life, they’re left to question whether armor is really a shield or more of a cage. This double edged sword is something that has popped up in my own experience of being ace time and time again, and I loved having the opportunity to explore it within a fantasy setting.

“The Witch of Fest Falls” by S. J. Taylor

“The Witch of Festa Falls” is a historical fantasy steeped in Norwegian folklore. Seventeen-year-old Birga is out to avenge the death of her beloved cousin Rúna. A monster in the woods took Rúna… and now it’s after other girls. Birga vows to end the creature. But there may be more than one way to mend her broken heart, and more than one heart that needs healing. I’ve become fascinated with working traditional folklore into modern fiction, playing with old tales we’ve created to explain the world to ourselves–and, ourselves to the world. Birga is able to use the traits her neighbors fear and despise most about her to fight back against a monster terrorizing her home. Bonus: Revenge via fiber arts! Come and visit the Norwegian forest with me.

“Sealights” by Emily Victoria

When I was a teen, the relationships that really defined me were those of my friends and my family. So, that’s what I wanted to write about in this story. “Sealights” is all about  a young ace woman who’s been doing her best to keep her father’s legacy alive by skimming sea magic to power her town’s lighthouse. However, the sea magic is failing, and it’s not until she meets an industrious earth magic girl that she realizes the answer to all of her problems might have been there all along. I hope my stories connect with all teens who are figuring out who they are and who their friends are. And I hope everyone enjoys my little cinnamon roll characters!

“The Hazards of Pressing Play” by Lara Ameen

This story was first conceptualized in 2019 as I worked on a pitch of it with author Dana Mele for an anthology she was putting together about queer authors writing sci-fi thrillers. So, originally, this story was a sci-fi thriller. That anthology died on submission and by the time it did, I hadn’t written much of the story anyway. When I decided to use the story for Being Ace, it became a contemporary thriller and the technological/sci-fi aspects of the story were removed. The main character’s name also changed. I was also inspired by a TV drama pilot I had written and shelved in 2019, a contemporary thriller about disabled vigilantes taking down a eugenics institution. While I didn’t end up using that storyline, the main character, Violet, in “The Hazards of Pressing Play” gets her name from the main character, Violet, of that TV pilot script. As a speculative fiction writer, writing this YA thriller story for Being Ace was a new experience for me. I loved writing Violet’s determination to save her girlfriend as well as her friendship with Felix. When writing disabled characters, asexuality is usually portrayed as a negative stereotype implying that disabled people are denied bodily agency and cannot or do not experience romantic or sexual attraction. However, it is Violet’s love for her girlfriend Nova that drives the heart of the story as well as the external and internalized ableism she fights against. I view Violet’s relationship with Nova as one that is built on trust, consent, and romantic rather than sexual attraction. I wanted to show that disabled characters who are asexual can be the heroes of their own stories. I hope disabled ace readers can see a piece of themselves in Violet and in this story as a whole.

“The Mermaid’s Sister” by Moniza Hossain

I chose to do a fairytale retelling for this anthology because I’ve always wanted to do one. I chose The Little Mermaid because despite its overt heterosexuality, it is inherently a queer tale. It’s a story about doomed and illicit love, a painful reflection of Andersen’s own life as a closeted gay man. I have always found it very difficult to relate to the little mermaid. There’s just something so ridiculous about how romantic love is portrayed in the story (maybe deliberately so, since romantic love as Andersen knew it was extremely heteronormative and exclusionary). According to the sea witch, the little mermaid would only have successfully won over the prince if “he is willing to forget his father and mother” for her sake. And the mermaid on her part is more than happy to leave behind her father, her grandmother, and her five sisters for someone she has never even spoken to. When I was a kid reading the unabridged story for the first time (complete with a horrific illustration of the little mermaid turning to sea foam when she dies at the end), my sympathies lay entirely with her family. Her poor sisters gave up their hair to save her only to have her kill herself for a random man. Absolutely not! So I did a retelling with the focus firmly back where it should be — on the love between sisters — because there is more than one type of love in the world. And all love is equally important. And my little mermaid is not going to kill herself for a man, no thank you.

“No Cure for Doubt” by Jas Brown

It’s hard to be brave enough to make your own decisions when it feels like your entire life has never belonged to you. I think a lot of the time we can feel like prisoners of our trauma or disabilities, and sometimes we need somebody else to tell us that we’re allowed to choose something else. So is this story about grief or is it about forgiving yourself for the wrong you’ve done in the past and choosing to do something different going forward? Really, it’s about how love might not always be the answer (but it is the reason), and that we are all worthy of it no matter who we are or what we’ve done. Also that we deserve happy endings!

“The Third Star” by RoAnna Sylver

My story is a weird, cosmic, very queer expression of so many raw, blazing, blistering feelings at once – and it all kind of came out in a howl.

It’s about breakdowns in communication, especially from a very neurodivergent POV. Loneliness, listening, figuring out relationships (romantic, queerplatonic, polyamory, family) and their infinite beautiful varieties. Environmentalism, honoring the universe as a living thing even as we struggle to live in it. Norse myth, galactic disaster, prophecy, and gigantic-ass space wolves in all their cosmic-horror and glory. And it’s about monsters: chasing them, fearing them, becoming them – and what makes a “monsterat all.

“Nylon Bed Socks” by Madeline Dyer

In my story “Nylon Bed Socks,” Amelia is desperate to escape—both the psychiatric hospital she’s found herself in and life itself. I wanted to write an emotional examination of the inner conflict and trauma that follows acephobic violence and the disassociation this can lead to—but it was important for me to also include positive messages about healing and my main character finding those who are accepting of her asexuality too. I also chose to write this story in verse and employ a spiral plot pattern; this narrative mode allowed me to examine the rawness of emotion in a way that mirrored how Amelia’s unprocessed trauma was growing, unchecked, in her mind, and how at the end of the story, community with other ace-spec individuals helps her feel less alone. It’s ultimately a story about the power one finds in being believed and accepted—both in terms of finding others like yourself and in healing from acephobic violence.

May 2022 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction and Poetry

Cait Corrain’s CROWN OF STARLIGHT, an irreverent, snarky, sexy and queer reimagining of the myth of Ariadne and Dionysus in a galaxy full of monstrous men, bloodthirsty gods, and love fierce enough to shatter the stars, to Del Rey, in a joint venture with Random House Canada, in a pre-empt.

Author of READ BETWEEN THE LINES Rachel Lacey‘s STARS COLLIDE, a sapphic rockstar romance featuring a grumpy sunshine pairing of two female pop stars, one the reigning Queen of Pop who is exhausted and lonely after years of performing, and a new to the scene rising star—after the two are paired together for a one-off performance, it sparks something much much more, again to Lauren Plude at Montlake, by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (world).

Scholar of modernism and avant-garde practices at the University of Southern Mississippi Ery Shin‘s SPRING ON THE PENINSULA, following a sexually fluid protagonist as he mourns a failed relationship over the course of two harsh winters, and a poignant exploration of queer life in Seoul in the shadow of tensions with North Korea, pitched in the vein of Constance De Jong’s MODERN LOVE, to Deborah Ghim at Astra House, for publication in spring 2024, by Mark Falkin at Falkin Literary (world).

Grace Curtis‘s FRONTIER, a queer space Western in which a stranded spaceship captain must traverse a climate-ravaged planet Earth to find her way back to the woman she loves, to Kwaku Osei-Afrifa at Hodder & Stoughton, with Molly Powell editing, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2023, by Zoe Plant at The Bent Agency.

Paris Review contributor and Iowa MFA grad James Frankie Thomas’s IDLEWILD, telling the story of an intense friendship between two queer Manhattan theater kids post-9/11 at a quirky Quaker high school as they become entangled with two mysterious boys whose friendship mirrors their own, tracing a year filled with backstage intrigue, antiwar demonstrations, smutty fanfic written over AIM—and mistakes, some small and some enormous, that they will regret for the rest of their lives, pitched as a darkly humorous THE SECRET HISTORY meets PREP, to Abby Muller at Algonquin, in a pre-empt, by Ayla Zuraw-Friedland at Frances Goldin Literary Agency (world English).

Author of THE GROVES J.V. Lyon PhD’s LUSH LIVES, a queer upmarket romance in which an introverted artist inherits a brownstone containing mysterious manuscripts from the Harlem Renaissance, and finds both love and answers with her alluring appraiser, to Roxane Gay at Roxane Gay Books, for publication in August 2023, by Jessica Alvarez at BookEnds (world).

Charlotte Mendelson’s THE EXHIBITIONIST, a portrait of a marriage between two artists, taking place over a momentous weekend as her career and personal life take a dramatic new turn, in an exploration of art, sacrifice, toxic family politics, queer desire, and personal freedom, to Anna deVries at St. Martin’s, by Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge & White (NA).

Author of THE VERIFIERS and two-time Best American Short Stories contributor Jane Pek’s THE RIVALS, in which an online-dating detective finds herself simultaneously trying to solve another murder, uncover tech companies’s dirty secrets, and keep her disintegrating family together, to Anna Kaufman at Vintage, in a two-book deal, by Julie Barer at The Book Group (NA).

M. J. Kuhn’s THICK AS THIEVES, the follow-up to AMONG THIEVES, in which the protagonist and her band of misfit criminals come up against a ruthless, familiar foe in an attempt to contain the fallout from their first major heist, to Amara Hoshijo at Saga Press, for publication in summer 2023, by Abby Schulman at Rebecca Friedman Literary (world).

Author of the forthcoming QUEERLY BELOVED Susie Dumond’s LOOKING FOR A SIGN, set in New Orleans, about a newly single queer woman who sets off on a mission to find her most compatible match by going on a date with someone of each astrological sign, again to Katy Nishimoto at Dial Press, in a two-book deal, by Jamie Carr at The Book Group (world).

Coeditor of MoonPark Review and mathematics professor Mary Lynn Reed’s PHANTOM ADVANCES, a short story collection following queer protagonists along America’s back roads, to Kristine Langley Mahler at Split/Lip Press, for publication in spring 2023 (world English).

Author whose work has appeared in Strange Horizons, PodCastle, and Solarpunk Magazine, among others Marisca Pichette’s RIVERS IN YOUR SKIN, SIRENS IN YOUR HAIR, a collection of poems exploring the nature of wilderness, queer folklore, and transgressive bodies, to Justine Norton-Kertson at Android, with J.D. Harlock editing, in a nice deal, for publication in spring 2023 (world English).

Children’s/Middle Grade Fiction

Author of THE JASMINE PROJECT and the forthcoming EVERYONE HATES KELSIE MILLER Meredith Ireland’s EMMA & THE LOVE SPELL, pitched as a queer witchy Parent Trap, about a 12-year-old adoptee who tries to use her fickle magical powers to keep the parents of her best friend (and long-time crush) together so she won’t have to move away, to Camille Kellogg at Bloomsbury Children’s, in a two-book deal, for publication in winter 2024, by Stephanie Kim at New Leaf Literary & Media (world).

Author of the forthcoming HAZEL HILL IS GONNA WIN THIS ONE Maggie Horne’s NOAH FRYE GETS CRUSHED, a queer coming-of-age story about a tween girl who tries to teach herself how to have a crush on a boy in order to fit in with her friends—only to realize she might be looking in the wrong places, to Lily Kessinger at Clarion, for publication in winter 2024, by Claire Friedman at Inkwell Management (NA).

Author of MY FATE ACCORDING TO THE BUTTERFLY Gail Villanueva’s LULU SINAGTALA AND THE TAGALOG GODS, in which an 11-year-old bisexual and epileptic discovers that the Philippines she thought she knew is actually full of magical creatures and meddling gods; when she and her sister set out to rescue their kidnapped mother, the girls find themselves fighting a powerful enemy—a vengeful evil spirit whose centuries-old grudge could end the world, to Megan Ilnitzki at Harper Children’s, in a very nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication beginning in fall 2023, by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Birch Path Literary (NA).

Young and New Adult

Coauthor of IF THIS GETS OUT Cale Dietrich’s THE RULES OF ROYALTY, in which the reluctant “spare” prince of a small country agrees to show the royal ropes to the American-raised prince of a neighboring nation, becoming friends as they navigate the press, a royal wedding, and finding out what they each want, all while falling in love, to Lisa Bonvissuto at Wednesday Books, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2024, by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds (world).

Author of MAN O’ WAR Cory McCarthy’s THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO GABRIEL, pitched as a contemporary YA retelling of humanity’s favorite crucifixion, in which an affirmed trans teen has a sexual awakening at church camp and dismantles the retro purity worship by starting his own religion, to Andrew Karre at Dutton Children’s, for publication in spring 2024, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world English).

Madeline Dyer, ed.’s BEING ACE, an anthology of short stories and poetry in multiple genres from contemporary to fantasy to science fiction that celebrate and explore the sub-identities of the asexual spectrum from a mixture of established and emerging YA writers, including Akemi Dawn Bowman, Lara Ameen, Rosiee Thor, Moniza Hossain, Linsey Miller, Ayida Shonibar, and Kat Yuen, among others, to Tamara Grasty at Page Street, for publication in fall 2023, by Erin Clyburn at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (world).

Adam Sass’s YOUR LONELY NIGHTS ARE OVER, pitched as Scream meets Clueless, in which two gay teen BFFs find their friendship tested when one of them is accused of being the mysterious killer who has been stalking their school’s queer club, to Kelsey Murphy at Viking Children’s, for publication in fall 2023, by Eric Smith at P.S. Literary Agency (NA).

Author of NEVER BEEN KISSED and the forthcoming YOU’RE A MEAN ONE, MATTHEW PRINCE Timothy Janovsky’s NEW ADULT, a queer time travel rom-com about a struggling stand-up comedian who wakes up seven years from now and has to regain his best friend’s trust, and maybe, ultimately his heart, to Mary Altman at Sourcebooks Casablanca, in an exclusive submission, for publication in fall 2023, by Kevin O’Connor at O’Connor Literary Agency (world).

Sami Ellis’s DEAD GIRLS WALKING, pitched as a fresh take on camp horror, about a serial killer’s daughter determined to absolve him of her mother’s murder; the only things keeping her from searching for clues in the woods where he used to hunt are her counselor duties at the queer all-girls sleepaway camp that’s leasing the land—and the copycat killer stalking the girls, to Emily Daluga at Amulet, in a nice deal, for publication in spring 2024, by Maeve MacLysaght at Copps Literary Services (world English).

Chloe Spencer’s MONSTERSONA, in which a freak explosion forces two bisexual teenage girls to flee their hometown and embark on a road trip across the American Northeast, all the while pursued by armed men, mad scientists, and one monstrous secret, pitched as Thelma & Louise meets Godzilla for teens, to Joshua Dean Perry at Tiny Ghost Press, in a nice deal, for publication in February 2023 (world English).

David Ferraro’s THE ALCHEMY OF MOONLIGHT, a mystery pitched as a queer retelling of the seminal Gothic novel THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO, in which a young man on the run from his overbearing aunt is embroiled in the mystery and intrigue of a wealthy family and caught between the affection of the young lord and the apprentice to the local doctor, complete with roiling fog, secret passages, and literal monsters, to Tamara Grasty at Page Street Kids, in a nice deal, for publication in spring 2023, by Eva Scalzo at Speilburg Literary Agency (world English).

Gigi Griffis’s THE WICKED UNSEEN, in 1996, a sixteen-year-old is having trouble fitting into her new town, where everyone seems to believe there’s a secret, Satanic cult doing rituals in the woods; but when the pastor’s daughter—and her crush—goes missing, she starts to wonder if the town’s obsession with evil isn’t covering up something far worse, to Alison Romig at Underlined, for publication in summer 2023, by Paige Terlip at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world).

Brittany Williams’s debut THAT SELF-SAME METAL, in the FORGE & FRACTURE SAGA, an historical fantasy trilogy pitched for fans of Holly Black and Justina Ireland that follows a Black girl who uses her secret ability to control metal to create swords for Shakespeare’s company, The Kings’ Men; but when malicious Fae invade mortal London and she slights one of their most powerful, she finds herself at the center of a war that only her family’s legacy can prevent, even as she falls for a boy in the company and a girl wrapped up in the fight, to Maggie Lehrman at Abrams Children’s, in a significant deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication in spring 2023, by Alexandra Levick at Writers House (world English).

Audio drama writer Jessica Best’s STARS, HIDE YOUR FIRES, in which a thief is framed for the emperor’s murder in a sci-fi murder mystery pitched as queer Knives Out in space, to Jessica Yang at Quirk Books, for publication in spring 2023 (world).


2021 Lambda Literary Award finalist Tania De Rozario‘s DINNER ON MONSTER ISLAND, a collection of personal essays braided with elements of history, pop culture, horror films, and current events that explores growing up a queer, brown, fat girl in Singapore, pitched in the vein of TRICK MIRROR and MINOR FEELINGS, to Sarah Ried at Harper Perennial, at auction, by Amanda Orozco at Transatlantic Literary Agency (world English).

Food writer, recipe developer, and pastry chef Justin Burke‘s untitled collection of highly achievable, ready-to-share potluck desserts celebrating the history and significance of potluck in the LGBTQ+ community, to Isabel McCarthy at Countryman Press, by Sally Ekus at Lisa Ekus Group.

Chair of the Department of African American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and former Librarian-in-Residence at Yale University Dr. Ethelene Whitmire PhD’s THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF REED PEGGRAM, pitched for readers of A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE and HIDDEN FIGURES, following the life of a queer Black man of humble origins who graduated from Harvard at the top of his class and continued his studies in Europe on the brink of World War II, where he fell in love, was captured by the Nazis, and miraculously escaped; offering a lens on the pursuit of dignity and beauty against the backdrop of Black Americans’s struggle for basic rights in a nation entering war, to Emily Wunderlich at Viking, at auction, by Jennifer Herrera at David Black Literary Agency (world).

Hillary Clinton’s former communications director, founder of Iowa’s largest LGBTQ+ equality organization, and foster care advocate Mark Daley’s PROTECTION, highlighting the impossible choices all parents in the foster system face, revealing the challenges of becoming a parent at the intersection of complex and intergenerational trauma, inadequate social support, and systemic issues of race, bias, and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, and inspiring each of us to show up for the most vulnerable among us, to Michelle Herrera Mulligan at Atria, at auction, by Lara Love Hardin at Idea Architects (NA).

Author of LET ME EXPLAIN YOU Annie Liontas’s SEX WITH A BRAIN INJURY, weaving criticism, history, philosophy, and interrogating and expanding representations of ability and disability, particularly in relation to women and the LGBTQ+ communities, to Kara Watson at Scribner, by David McCormick at McCormick Literary (NA).

Illustrator Roza Nozari’s ALL THE PARTS WE EXILE, an exploration of womanhood, culture, family, faith and queerness—both in writing and illustration—through personal stories from a queer Muslim woman, to Amanda Betts at Knopf Canada, at auction, for publication in spring 2024, by Stephanie Sinclair at CookeMcDermid (NA).

Tony Award-nominated playwright, drag actor, director, screenwriter, and LGBT trailblazer Charles Busch’s LEADING LADY, sharing stories of the author’s early success Off-Broadway with Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, moving to Broadway with The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife and Hollywood with several motion pictures and a role in OZ; telling tales of his close friendship with Joan Rivers and interactions with leading ladies Angela Lansbury, Debbie Reynolds, Elaine Stritch, Linda Lavin, Carol Channing, Rosie O’Donnell, Claudette Colbert, Valerie Harper, Kim Novak, Bea Arthur, Greta Garbo, and others, to Robb Pearlman at Smart Pop, at auction, for publication in fall 2023, by Tom Miller at Liza Dawson Associates (world English).