The Queer Writer: January 2023

Happy New Queer! I hope 2023 is gentler for you and full of opportunities for relief, rest, and meaning.

We've made it through the usual publication dry spell! There's tons of lovely new books to start off our first reading month of the year, including stories of trans joy, opting for a coming-out party instead of a Sweet Sixteen, Armenian-American bisexual discovery, and a deck of cards to prompt gender discussion.

Applications for the Novel Immersive Program for LGBTQ+ Writers open next week! Join a group of 10 novelists as you learn, workshop, and build community over nine months. Scholarships are available, class is remote, and queer, trans, and/or nonbinary identities of all experiences are encouraged to apply. If you'd like to learn more about the program, the Open House is February 22nd. I hope to see you there!

Or if you'd like something shorter and sooner, there are four seats left for the Novel Writing Workshop for Queer, Trans, and/or Nonbinary Writers. It starts January 12th, so if you've been interested, it's time to get on it!

Is there an upcoming queer book you’re excited about? Know of a great opportunity for queer writers? Read an awesome article about the (marginalized) writing world? Leave a comment! And as always, please share this newsletter with people you think might be interested.

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If you’d like to donate to the sliding scale fund, please contact me.

***4 SEATS LEFT*** Novel Writing Workshop for Queer, Trans, and/or Nonbinary Writers

  • 10 Thursdays starting January 12th, 2023 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • Sliding scale: $500/$675/$850/$1,350 ($850+$500 scholarship donation)
  • 9 students maximum

Many queer, trans, and/or nonbinary writers may have experienced workshops in the past that were silencing, unhelpful, or damaging when being workshopped by a predominantly cisgender/heterosexual writing group, however well-intentioned the group may have been. This workshop course is designed to help create a more intimate and relatable space for queer, trans, and/or nonbinary writers to both give and receive feedback on their works in progress. This class is for queer, trans, and/or nonbinary novelists who have taken advanced workshops before, are well versed in matters of craft, and who have already made some progress on a first draft.

The goal of this course is to workshop at least 30 pages in ten weeks (minimum, depending on class size). Feedback will be delivered using the novel-in-progress method: reading your pages (up to 15 pages, double-spaced, 12pt font) aloud in class at least twice in the course, and receiving on-the-spot, non-silencing feedback from your fellow novelists and instructor.

*This class is intended only for writers who identify as queer, trans, and/or nonbinary. Novels specific to queer, trans, and/or nonbinary themes are not required.

*Previous students of this course are welcome to return and continue workshopping their pages.

***NEW*** Queery-ing: Navigating Agents and Publishers While Queer

  • Saturday, February 4th, 2023 from 10:30am to 1:30pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • $85, scholarships available
  • 20 students maximum

What does a “very nice deal” mean in a publishing contract announcement? What’s a pre-empt? How does the trajectory from query to book deal normally work? Navigating the publishing industry is confusing at the best of times, but when you’re also a marginalized writer, it can feel overwhelming. In this 3-hour crash course, we’ll spend the first half in lecture and information—including query letters, industry language, standard agent contract rates, the differences of publishing houses, and more—and the second half in a mix of Q&A and beginning to build our query letters, all while centering queer writers and the particular challenges they may face.

*This class is intended only for LGBTQ+ writers.

Novel Immersive for LGBTQ+ Writers Open House & Info Session

  • Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023 from 6:00pm to 7:00pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • Free!
  • 75 seat maximum

Thinking of applying to the Novel Immersive for LGBTQ+ Writers? GrubStreet will host an online Q&A session with instructor Milo Todd on Wednesday, February 22nd, from 6:00-7:00p.m. Milo will answer any questions you have about the Novel Immersive, including the workload, the application process, what the program does and doesn’t entail, the schedule, the philosophy behind our approach, and anything else you have on your mind! Please note that the upcoming round of the Novel Immersive for LGBTQ+ Writers, which begins in June 2023, will take place online via Zoom.

Writing Group: Accountability Cafe for Queer, Trans, and/or Nonbinary Writers

  • 6 Thursdays starting March 30th, 2023 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • $170, scholarships available
  • 12 students maximum

Having trouble finding the time to write? Want a group of peers to keep you on the path to your writing goals? Just want to be in the presence of some fellow LGBTQ+ writers? Grab a coffee and join the instructor-led Accountability Cafe, a virtual space specifically dedicated to queer, transgender, and/or nonbinary writers! In this low-stress environment, we'll meet for 90 minutes once a week on Zoom to write, connect, ask questions, and share snippets of our work, all while the instructor pipes in study/focus music to help bring home that cafe feel. Come join us; accountability has never been so chilled out!

*This group is only available to LGBTQ+ writers.

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Disclosure: I'm an affiliate of Any purchase through my storefront supports local bookstores and earns me a commission. Win-win!

Brighter Than the Moon by David Valdes

Shy foster kid Jonas and self-assured vlogger Shani met online, and so far, that's where their relationship has stayed, sharing memes and baring their souls from behind their screens. Shani is eager to finally meet up, but Jonas isn't so sure--he's not confident Shani will like the real him . . . if he's even sure who that is. Jonas knows he's trapped himself in a lie with Shani--and wants to dig himself out. But Shani, who's been burned before, may not give him a chance: she talks her best friend Ash into playing spy and finding out the truth. When Ash falls for Jonas, too, he keeps that news from Shani, and soon they're all keeping secrets. Will it matter that their hearts are in the right place? Coming clean will require them to figure out who they really are, which is no easy task when all the pieces of your identity go beyond easy boxes and labels.

Hood Vacations by Michal "MJ" Jones

Michal “MJ” Jones’ debut Hood Vacations is a rhythmic & quiet rumbling – an unflinching recollection of Blackness, queerness, gender, and violence through lenses of family lineage and confessional narrative. A nostalgia for an unreachable home permeates these poems: “We were mighty beautiful once, in golden dust.” The speaker of Hood Vacations tells of magic: of praying mantises, bathtub octopuses, Black ghosts, & bringing back “rainbow soap colors”. It is a book of passing – as, through, and on. Hop on in.

All the Things They Said We Couldn't Have: Stories of Trans Joy by Tash Oakes-Monger

Now, more than ever, trans people deserve to hear stories of joy and hope, where being trans doesn't have to be defined by fear and dysphoria, but can be experienced through courage, freedom, and the love and acceptance of their chosen families. Through a series of uplifting, generous and beautifully crafted vignettes, T. C. Oakes-Monger gently leads you through the cycle of the seasons - beginning in Autumn and the shedding of leaves and identity, moving through the darkness of Winter, its cold days, and the reality of daily life, into Spring, newness, and change, and ending with the joy of long Summer days and being out and proud - and invites you to find similar moments of joy in your life. Celebratory and empowering, these stories are a reminder of the power joy can bring.

As You Walk On By by Julian Winters

Seventeen-year-old Theo Wright has it all figured out. His plan (well, more like his dad's plan) is a foolproof strategy that involves exceling at his magnet school, getting scouted by college recruiters, and going to Duke on athletic scholarship. But for now, all Theo wants is a perfect prom night. After his best friend Jay dares Theo to prompose to his crush at Chloe Campbell's party, Theo's ready to throw caution to the wind and take his chances. But when the promposal goes epically wrong, Theo seeks refuge in an empty bedroom while the party rages on downstairs. Having an existential crisis about who he really is with and without his so-called best friend wasn't on tonight's agenda. Though, as the night goes on, Theo finds he's not as alone as he thinks when, one by one, new classmates join him to avoid who they're supposed be outside the bedroom door. Among them, a familiar acquaintance, a quiet outsider, an old friend, and a new flame...

Then Everything Happens at Once by M-E Girard

Baylee has never been kissed but she wants to do way more than that. She's had a huge crush on her gorgeous best friend and neighbor Freddie for years, but since she doesn't look like his usual type, the judgmental voice in her head tells her he'll never see her as more than a friend. It feels like she'll spend the rest of high school fantasizing on the sidelines while everyone else dates and hooks up. Then Baylee meets Alex online and she starts to fall for this sweet, funny barista who likes her just as she is. It's new, electric, and all-consuming to be around Alex. But when Freddie makes a move on Baylee and a virus shuts the world down, Baylee finds herself torn. Everything is happening at once, and she is left navigating the messy waters of love and desire. It helps that she's observed her friends' relationship drama, so she knows exactly what mistakes not to make . . . right? This sophomore novel from M-E Girard centers a fat, confident girl going after what she wants and learning to love herself along the way.

Your Body is Awesome (2nd Edition): Body Respect for Children by Sigrun Danielsdottir and Bjork Bjarkadottir

Bodies do all sorts of amazing things, like move around, grow bigger and heal themselves. Bodies also come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and we need to take care of them so that they stay healthy and strong. If we listen to our bodies they tell us exactly what they need. The colorful illustrations in this unique picture book will encourage children to love their bodies from an early age. By learning about all the wonderful things bodies can do, and how each body is different and unique, children will be inspired to take good care of their bodies throughout their lives. Promoting respect for body diversity among children will also encourage kindness and help prevent bullying. The new edition also has changes made to the illustrations and text to widen the scope of diversity presented in the book (to include gender fluidity and physical disabilities).

Friday I'm in Love by Camryn Garrett

Mahalia Harris wants. She wants a big Sweet Sixteen like her best friend, Naomi. She wants the super-cute new girl Siobhan to like her back. She wants a break from worrying--about money, snide remarks from white classmates, pitying looks from church ladies . . . all of it. Then inspiration strikes: It's too late for a Sweet Sixteen, but what if she had a coming-out party? A singing, dancing, rainbow-cake-eating celebration of queerness on her own terms. The idea lights a fire beneath her, and soon Mahalia is scrimping and saving, taking on extra hours at her afterschool job, trying on dresses, and awkwardly flirting with Siobhan, all in preparation for the coming out of her dreams. But it's not long before she's buried in a mountain of bills, unfinished schoolwork, and enough drama to make her English lit teacher blush. With all the responsibility on her shoulders, will Mahalia's party be over before it's even begun?

Sorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni

When Nareh Bedrossian's non-Armenian boyfriend gets down on one knee and proposes to her in front of a room full of drunk San Francisco tech boys, she realizes it's time to find someone who shares her idea of romance. Enter her mother: armed with plenty of mom-guilt and a spreadsheet of Facebook-stalked Armenian men, she convinces Nar to attend Explore Armenia, a month-long series of events in the city. But it's not the mom-approved playboy doctor or the wealthy engineer who catch Nar's eye--it's Erebuni, a woman as immersed in the witchy arts as she is in preserving Armenian identity. Suddenly, with Erebuni as her wingwoman, the events feel like far less of a chore, and much more of an adventure. Who knew cooking up kuftes together could be so . . . sexy? Her worlds will inevitably collide, but Nar is determined to be brave and to claim her happiness: proudly Armenian, proudly bisexual, and proudly herself for the first time in her life.

The Daughters of Izdihar by Hadeer Elsbai

As a waterweaver, Nehal can move and shape any water to her will, but she's limited by her lack of formal education. She desires nothing more than to attend the newly opened Weaving Academy, take complete control of her powers, and pursue a glorious future on the battlefield with the first all-female military regiment. But her family cannot afford to let her go--crushed under her father's gambling debt, Nehal is forcibly married into a wealthy merchant family. Her new spouse, Nico, is indifferent and distant and in love with another woman, a bookseller named Giorgina. Giorgina has her own secret, however: she is an earthweaver with dangerously uncontrollable powers. She has no money and no prospects. Her only solace comes from her activities with the Daughters of Izdihar, a radical women's rights group at the forefront of a movement with a simple goal: to attain recognition for women to have a say in their own lives. They live very different lives and come from very different means, yet Nehal and Giorgina have more in common than they think. The cause--and Nico--brings them into each other's orbit, drawn in by the group's enigmatic leader, Malak Mamdouh, and the urge to do what is right.

The Gender Deck: 100 Cards for Conversations about Gender Identity by Andrew Triska and Filipa Namorado

This unique pack of 100 cards provides a useful tool to help guide conversations about gender identity in individual, group, family, professional and school settings. With vibrant and inclusive designs, the four color-coded categories - consisting of reflective questions, interactive activities, interview-style questions and supportive questions - are designed to prompt and encourage deep, reflective and supportive discussions about topics related to gender identity, gender expression and relationships. Developed by a renowned trans-identified psychotherapist, and with an accompanying guidebook instructing users on different formats and activities in which the cards can be used, this card deck is an ideal resource for professionals working with trans, non-binary and/or queer clients to have in their therapeutic toolkit.

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Feminist Formations 2022 General CFP

  • What: "An interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal, we publish innovative work by scholars, activists, artists, poets, and practitioners in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. Our subject matter includes national, global, and transnational feminist thought and practice; the cultural and social politics of genders and sexualities; and historical and contemporary studies of gendered experience. The journal values established and emerging lines of inquiry and methods that engage the complexities of gender as implicated in forms of power such as race, ethnicity, class, nation, migration, ability, and religion."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $o
  • Deadline: January 1st, 2023

Orion's Beau

  • What: "The theme for our winter issue will be: a love worth losing (if love is a losing game). Before submitting to us please keep in mind that we are devoted to LGBTQ+ fantasy. Your work should strongly reflect that. We are interested in work that elevates dreams and fairy tales in the gay community and its supporters. We're looking for original works of magic and fantasy. Even in darkness, hope can exist. We want to be transported to new worlds or fascinating new versions of our own!"
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $3
  • Deadline: January 10th, 2023

Bodies: A Preservation of Land and Self

  • What: "Submit here to have your poetry considered for our 2023 chapbook anthology, 'Bodies: A Preservation of Land and Self.' Feel free to interpret this theme as loosely or as literally as you'd like. We want to read it all! While we love experimental work, keep in mind that these poems will be printed out and must fit on a page! We'd prefer shorter poetry considering the constraints of print publication, but will consider and try to work with whatever you'd like to send."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: January 15th, 2023

The Crawling Moon: Queer Tales of Inescapable Dread

  • What: "We are looking for dark stories that subvert the gothic and explore the filthier edges of horror. We would like to be scandalized. We’re using the most inclusive definition of queer. Queer, trans, ace, undefinable. Throughout, we’re looking for rich, varied and nuanced understandings of gender, family and ethnicity. We’re not interested in work which focuses on unexamined bigotry or sexual violence. While this is a darker-themed anthology, we intend to handle these subjects with care."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0.08/word
  • Deadline: January 15th, 2023

The Central Dissent: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality

  • What: "Being the first and only academic journal focused on gender and sexuality in Oklahoma, our mission is to gather and disseminate quality research, poetry, and academic reviews that explore gender theory, gender identity, as well as how race, class, and ethnicity shape society’s expectations of the individual both currently and historically."
  • Fee: $2
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: January 16th, 2023

2023 Lambda Literary Writer's Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices

  • What: "The Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices is the nation’s premier LGBTQ writing residency. It is the only multi-genre writing residency devoted exclusively to emerging LGBTQ writers. The Retreat is an unparalleled opportunity to develop one’s craft and find community."
  • Fee: $25
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: January 18th, 2023

2023 LGBTQ Collections Award

  • What: "The Rose Library offers the LGBTQ Collections Fellowship, which supports research in Rose Library's LGBTQ related papers and archives that document the history, culture, politics, and public health initiatives."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $1,000
  • Deadline: February 28th, 2023

The Eliud Martínez Prize

  • What: "The Eliud Martínez Prize was established to honor the memory of Eliud Martínez (1935–2020), artist, novelist, and professor emeritus of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. One prize of $1,000 and book publication through Inlandia Books will be awarded for a book of fiction or creative nonfiction by a writer who identifies as Hispanic, Latino/a/x, or Chicana/o/x."
  • Fee: $15
  • Pay: $1,000 and book publication
  • Deadline: March 1st, 2023

Boston Writers of Color: Literary Support Program

  • What: "GrubStreet's Boston Writers of Color program is excited to offer a limited number of $125 and $250 stipends for BIPOC writers. The funds are to be used for submissions, contests, fellowships, retreats, expenses for writing needs, and any other literary opportunities."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $125-$250
  • Deadline: rolling

Black and Asian Feminist Solidarities

  • What: Seeking “new pitches and finished pieces that interrogate past, present, and future issues within the realm of Black and Asian feminist solidarities, and that imagine possibilities between our communities through various written forms.”
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: rolling

Baest Journal

  • What: Baest Journal, "a journal of queer forms and affects," seeks to publish work by queer writers and artists.
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: rolling

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‘I want to savour every word’: the joy of reading slowly

by Susie Mesure

There is something about churning through books that induces envy and even admiration, never more than at this time of year when piles of finished tomes are splashed across social media. Bragging rights seem to go to those who have read lots of books and read them quickly – how many times have you seen someone boast about finishing 10 books in a year? What about five?
...“People often say they devoured a book in one sitting. But I want to savour a book, which means I give myself just 10 pages a day of any book.” ...At that pace it can take [Yiyun] Li up to three weeks to finish a novel. “When you spend two to three weeks with a book, you live in that world,” she says. “I think reading slowly is such an important skill. Nobody has ever talked about it, or taught me that. I’m a very patient reader. Even if it’s a very compelling book. I don’t want to rush from the beginning to the end.”

Orange-red banner with the words WRITING PROMPT in white letters, flanked on either side by Milo Todd's logo of a simple, geometric fox head.

You made it to the end! Here’s a little reward for you:

  1. List all the hardships your character has endured in the past (before your pages begin).
  2. With each of these hardships, list one way it's contributed to your character's growth.
  3. In what ways have these hardships and growths made your character who they are by the time your book begins?
  4. Want to share what you came up with? Leave a comment!
Milo Todd's logo of a simple, geometric fox head.
Until next time, foxies! Be queer, write stories!