The Queer Writer: November 2023

I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. Yes, the world continues to be on fire, but this time I mean about the amazing LGBTQ+ Writers' Weekend in Boston. It was wonderful to see so much queer and trans joy in that space. With over 350 registrations across the entire weekend, an estimated 120+ LGBTQ+ readers and writers took over the GrubStreet building for three whole days! With this inaugural program so successful, we hope to not only return next year, but make it even bigger and better! Thank you to everyone who participated, spread the word, or otherwise played a part in making this weekend a success. We couldn't have done it without you.

As some of you know, GrubStreet recently launched a new program called Mentorship Office Hours, in which former or current students of an instructor can request a free 25-minute talk with them through December 2023. However, demand was so high that they ran out of funding within 24 hours after the announcement. This means the signup form I originally sent to students has been disabled and GrubStreet is in the process of finding additional funding. This opportunity may not be available again until 2024, but the good news is such high demand increases the likelihood that they can secure more funding. Thank you for the enthusiasm! It was an honor to see so much excitement and interest come in for sessions with me. I'll announce when Mentorship Office Hours open back up.

Time for November's upcoming books! Our community is excited about such titles as a YA about the complexities of falling in love while asexual, two boys caught in the crossfire of a sinister plot, a Scroogey young man looking to win a cash prize as a mall elf, a paranormal thriller about a failed K-pop star, a nonbinary Seminole teen who's a reincarnated god, a young woman making a documentary about queer love while lacking it herself, and more!

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? Let me know! And as always, please share this newsletter with people you think might be interested.

Upcoming Classes

Sessions with the Editor: Foglifter Journal

  • Friday, November 3rd, 2023 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • $85, scholarships available
  • 20 students maximum

Get closer to the literary journals you admire with this specialized series of seminars. The Sessions with the Editor series offers insight into the featured journal’s aesthetics, archives, how to submit, and the editorial process– straight from the editors! In this informative 3-hour session, featured editors will talk about their journal and share their insights, including some of their favorite published pieces. They will also answer your burning questions about writing, editing, and submitting! These seminars are great for any writer interested in learning more about the editorial process for literary journals, or writers who are actively submitting.

On Friday, November 3rd, get to know Foglifter Journal. Milo Todd, Managing Editor of Fiction, will lead this informative session. Foglifter is an award-winning literary platform created by and for LGBTQ+ writers and readers. It seeks out groundbreaking queer and trans writing, with an emphasis on publishing those multi-marginalized (BIPOC, youth, elders, and people with disabilities). Their biannual journal features the widest possible range of forms, with an emphasis on transgressive, risky, challenging subject matter, innovative formal choices, and work that pushes the boundaries of what writing can do. By putting extraordinary queer and trans writers into conversation, Foglifter uplifts a growing community of LGBTQ+ readers and writers, and carves out space in the larger literary community for voices that have historically been silenced.

The Age of AI: ChatGPT, Prosecraft, and Other Writer Concerns

  • Saturday, December 2nd, 2023 from 10:30am to 1:30pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • $85, scholarships available
  • 12 students maximum

ChatGPT can produce entire stories with just a few prompts. Prosecraft scraped the text of over 25,000 published books for “the linguistic analysis of literature” without consent. Some literary magazines have been flooded with AI-generated stories to the point that they’ve had to shut down. People are selling AI-generated stories on Amazon under the names of established authors.

With this sudden onslaught of AI use in ill-intentioned hands, it’s understandable that writers, journals, publishers, and the whole of the literary community feel panic. But the first steps in combating fear and despair is to investigate a given problem and connect with your peers. In this 3-hour session, we’ll look at the above situations, discuss our thoughts and feelings, and engage in writing prompts aimed to both strengthen our confidence in our work and understand how to ethically use AI as writers (if we choose). Writers will leave class with a firmer understanding of the situation and a better knowledge of AI, what they can (and can't) do about it, and see how nothing can stop the irrepressible beauty of—and desire for—human-generated prose.

Anticipated Books

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

Godly Heathens by H. E. Edgmon

Gem Echols is a nonbinary Seminole teen living in the tiny town of Gracie, Georgia. Known for being their peers' queer awakening, Gem leans hard on charm to disguise the anxious mess they are beneath. The only person privy to their authentic self is another trans kid, Enzo, who's a thousand long, painful miles away in Brooklyn. But even Enzo doesn't know about Gem's dreams, haunting visions of magic and violence that have always felt too real. So how the hell does Willa Mae Hardy? The strange new girl in town acts like she and Gem are old companions, and seems to know things about them they've never told anyone else. When Gem is attacked by a stranger claiming to be the Goddess of Death, Willa Mae saves their life and finally offers some answers. She and Gem are reincarnated gods who've known and loved each other across lifetimes. But Gem - or at least who Gem used to be - hasn't always been the most benevolent deity. They've made a lot of enemies in the pantheon--enemies who, like the Goddess of Death, will keep coming. It's a good thing they've still got Enzo. But as worlds collide and the past catches up with the present, Gem will discover that everyone has something to hide.

Gwen & Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

It's been hundreds of years since King Arthur's reign. His descendant, Arthur, a future Lord and general gadabout, has been betrothed to Gwendoline, the quick-witted, short-tempered princess of England, since birth. The only thing they can agree on is that they despise each other. They're forced to spend the summer together at Camelot in the run up to their nuptials, and within 24 hours, Gwen has discovered Arthur kissing a boy and Arthur has gone digging for Gwen's childhood diary and found confessions about her crush on the kingdom's only lady knight, Bridget Leclair. Realizing they might make better allies than enemies, they make a reluctant pact to cover for each other, and as things heat up at the annual royal tournament, Gwen is swept off her feet by her knight and Arthur takes an interest in Gwen's royal brother.

Wren Martin Ruins It All by Amanda DeWitt

Now that Wren Martin is student council president (on a technicality, but hey, it counts) he's going to fix Rapture High. His first order of business: abolish the school's annual Valentine's Day dance, a drain on the school's resources and general social nightmare--especially when you're asexual. His greatest opponent: Leo Reyes, vice president and all-around annoyingly perfect student. Leo has a solution to Wren's budget problem--a sponsorship from Buddy, the anonymous "not a dating" app sweeping the nation. Now instead of a danceless senior year, Wren is in charge of the biggest dance Rapture High has ever seen. He's even secretly signed up for the app. For research, of course. But when Wren develops capital F-Feelings for his anonymous match, things spiral out of control. Wren decided a long time ago that dating while asexual wasn't worth the hassle. With the big night rapidly approaching, he isn't sure what will kill him first: the dance, his relationship drama, or the growing realization that Leo's perfect life might not be so perfect after all.

Finding My Elf by David Valdes

Escaping to NYU for college didn't turn out the way Cameron planned--he's flunking his theater classes, about to lose his scholarship, and he still hasn't found anyone he can call his "people." When he gets home for winter break, he's so desperate to avoid a Conversation with his dad that he takes the first acting job he can get--as a mall elf. Despite how Scroogey he feels, the plus side is that there's a cash prize for the most festive of Santa's helpers. But the competition is fierce--especially from fellow elf Marco. Christmas spirit oozes out of his veins. At first Cam is determined to see him as nothing but a rival, but as they spend more time together, Cam starts to second-guess himself. What if he's finally found his people here--in the fakest consumerist nightmare place on Earth, where he least expected it?

Pritty by Keith F. Miller Jr

On the verge of summer before his senior year, Jay is a soft soul in a world of concrete. While his older brother is everything people expect a man to be--tough, athletic, and in charge--Jay simply blends into the background to everyone, except when it comes to Leroy. Unsure of what he could have possibly done to catch the eye of the boy who could easily have anyone he wants, Jay isn't about to ignore the surprising but welcome attention. But as everything in his world begins to heat up, especially with Leroy, whispered rumors over the murder of a young Black journalist and long-brewing territory tensions hang like a dark cloud over his neighborhood. And when Jay and Leroy find themselves caught in the crossfire, Leroy isn't willing to be the reason Jay's life is at risk. Dragged into the world of the Black Diamonds--whose work to protect the Black neighborhoods of Savannah began with his father and now falls to his older brother--Leroy knows that finding out who attacked his brother is not only the key to protecting everyone he loves but also the only way he can ever be with Jay. Wading through a murky history of family trauma and regret, Leroy soon discovers that there's no keeping Jay safe when Jay's own family is in just as deep and fighting the undertow of danger just as hard. Now Jay and Leroy must puzzle through secrets hiding in plain sight and scramble to uncover who is determined to eliminate the Black Diamonds before someone else gets hurt--even if the cost might be their own electric connection.

The Queer Girl is Going to Be Okay by Dale Walls

Queer Love. Something Dawn wants, desperately, but does not have. But maybe, if she can capture it, film it, interview the people who have it, queer love will be hers someday. Or, at least, she'll have made a documentary about it. A documentary that, hopefully, will win Dawn a scholarship to film school. Many obstacles stand in the way of completing her film, but her best friends Edie and Georgia are there to help her reach her goal, no matter what it takes.

Gorgeous Gruesome Faces by Linda Cheng

After a shocking scandal that abruptly ended her teen popstar career, eighteen-year-old Sunny Lee spends her days longing for her former life and cyberstalking her ex-BFF and groupmate, Candie. The two were once inseparable, but that was then--before the tragedy and heartache they left in their wake. In the here and now, Sunny is surprised to discover that Candie is attending a new K-pop workshop in her hometown. Candie might be there chasing stardom, but Sunny can't resist the chance to join her and finally confront their traumatic history. Because she still can't figure out what happened that horrible night when Mina, the third in their tight-knit trio, jumped to her death. Or if the dark and otherworldly secrets she and Candie were keeping had something to do with it... But the workshop doesn't bring the answers Sunny had hoped for, nor a happy reunion with Candie. Instead, Sunny finds herself haunted by ghostly visions while strange injuries start happening to her competitors--followed by even stranger mutilations to their bodies. In her race to survive, Sunny will have to expose just who is behind the carnage--and if Candie is out for blood once more.

No One Left But You by Tash McAdam

BEFORE. Newly out trans guy Max is having a hard time in school. Things have been tough since his summer romance, Danny, turned into his bully. This year, his plan is to keep his head down and graduate. All that changes when new It Girl, Gloss, moves to town. No one understands why perfect, polished Gloss is so interested in an introverted skater kid, but Max blooms in the hothouse of her attention. Caught between romance and obsession, he'll do whatever it takes to keep her on his side. AFTER. Haircuts, makeovers, drugs, parties. It's all fun and games until someone gets killed at a rager gone terribly wrong. Max refuses to believe that Gloss did it. But if not Gloss, who? Desperate to figure out truth in the wake of tragedy, Max veers dangerously close to being implicated--and his own memories of that awful night are fuzzy.

Congo, seen from the heavens by Cianga

Congo, seen from the heavens is a collection of poems that journeys through not often told history from the Congolese and Black diaspora to deliver its warnings, lament, and hopes. From the perspective of a refugee, this book addresses the complex relationships between home and survival while rooting itself in the reminder that we are [our] “ancestor’s best outcome.” From the heavens, our whole Earth can appear so small. Yet this view also allows us to see ourselves as infinitely precious; that in our tiny stake in the universe, we are worthy of existing in full splendor. Congo, seen through this lens, is more than a bereft, grieving country—it is a testament to survival, a land of dense yearning, prepared to fight.


Foglifter Journal

  • What: "Foglifter welcomes daring and thoughtful work by queer and trans writers in all forms, and we are especially interested in cross-genre, intersectional, marginal, and transgressive work. We want the pieces that challenged you as a writer, what you poured yourself into and risked the most to make. But we also want your tenderest, gentlest work, what you hold closest to your heart. Whatever you're working on now that's keeping you alive and writing, Foglifter wants to read it."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $50
  • Deadline: November 1st, 2023

Bi Women Quarterly Winter 2024: Bi+ World Wide Web

  • What: "The internet can be a place of community and love, as well as potential danger and fear. We invite your thoughts, reflections, experiences, and dreams related to the internet in bi+ people’s lives. How has the internet, including social media, been a place of discovery and communion? How has it provided escape from the 'offline' world? How has it been lacking as a place of safety and support? What potential changes would make it a positive and useful space for all bi+ people?"
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: November 1st, 2023

Fuckin' Queers: Issue 2

  • What: "What if Cosmo was for queers? We are a new digital and print zine that centers trans people and queer sex. We’re open to art, photography, text, playlists, or anything else we haven’t thought of yet. Queer stories and experiences, by us for us."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: November 1st, 2023

Prismatica Magazine: Issue 18

  • What: "Prismatica Magazine is an LGBTQ fantasy and science-fiction magazine that publishes short stories, poetry, reviews, interviews, and articles. We publish on a quarterly schedule. All of our fiction is published on our website for free."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: November 1st, 2023

The Pinch: Request for Equity Submission

  • What: "As part of our efforts toward equity and inclusivity, the Pinch offers no-cost submissions to reduce barriers of participation to marginalized populations. Over the last decade, the majority of what we've publish online and in print is from authors and artists who have been excluded from traditional publishing venues."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: November 2nd, 2023

2024 Lambda Literary Awards

  • What: "Lambda Literary Awards celebrate the outstanding LGBTQ+ storytelling from a given year. Lambda uses 'LGBTQ+' as a catch-all term, meaning that works reflecting identities beyond lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer or questioning are also welcome, to include two-spirit, intersex, pansexual, aro/ace, and other emerging identities."
  • Fee: $55 to $115
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: November 19th, 2023

Quill (Queer) Prose Award

  • What: "Founded in 2015 by Tobi Harper of Red Hen Press, Quill seeks to publish quality literature by queer writers. The Quill Prose Award is for a work of previously unpublished (including self-published works) prose with a minimum of 150 pages by a queer (LGBTQIA+) writer. The awarded manuscript is selected through an annual submission process which is open to all authors."
  • Fee: $10
  • Pay: $1,000 and manuscript publication
  • Deadline: November 30th, 2023

Lambda Literary 2024 Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices

  • What: "Since 2007, the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices has offered sophisticated instruction in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young adult fiction, playwriting led by the most talented writers working today. In 2022, the Writers Retreat expanded to include instruction in screenwriting and speculative fiction, and in 2023, the community grew even more with an all new completely virtual multi-genre cohort. In 2024, we will return to a fully in-person Retreat as well as introduce a Winter Retreat in 2025 dedicated to an immersive, fulfilling experience for faculty and fellows in a virtual setting."
  • Fee: $30 + tuition if accepted
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: December 30th, 2023

Bi Women Quarterly Spring 2024: Letters to Self

  • What: "Have you ever wished you could go back in time and give your younger self some much needed advice? Or perhaps you want to write to your future self about the moment you’re currently living in, so you don’t forget any part of it, or to provide some advice? What if you were asked to write to your present self—what would you say? Share your letters to yourself of advice, wisdom, and memories, with us for our next issue!"
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: February 1st, 2024

The Afterpast Review

  • What: "The Afterpast Review is a feminist literary magazine dedicated to uplifting underrepresented voices. We accept poetry, prose, and dramatic writing from all writers. ​Submissions do not have to fit into a specific category nor do they have to be about feminism. All accepted submissions will be published in the magazine."
  • 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


'A Plague on the Industry': Book Publishing's Broken Blurb System

by Sophie Vershbow

On their surface, book blurbs seem fairly innocuous, but in reality, they’re a small piece of the puzzle with a big impact—one that represents so much of what’s broken within the traditional publishing establishment. Blurbs expose this ecosystem for what it really is: a nepotism-filled system that everyone endures for a chance of “making it” in an impossible industry for most. To borrow a phrase from Shakespeare enthusiast Cher Horowitz, “Blurbs are a full-on Monet. From far away, they’re okay, but up close, they’re a big old mess.”

…Consider the problem of MFA programs and other writing workshops, where authors notoriously make the connections that lead to securing blurbs from “who they know” down the line. Meg Reid, Executive Director at Hub City Writers Project, explained, “If you've spent any time in the industry, you know that a packed roster of blurbs often has more to do with which MFA program or elite writing conference the writer attended or the other writers in their publisher's stable, rather than whether the book is truly great or not.”

Like book publishing, elite writing programs have their own diversity issues to contend with, which reverberate out into who gets published and which books are ultimately recognized. According to a 2015 survey of creative writing programs by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), white students made up 75% of creative writing programs on average, and as Katerina Ivanov Prado wrote in a 2022 essay for Catapult, even fully-funded MFA programs are significantly more accessible to writers who come from higher socioeconomic classes.

Goodreads is right to divide opinions, wrong to boil them down

by Rebecca F Kuang

Part of the pleasure of reading is learning to articulate what we admire in a text and defending it against other interpretations – not in service of deciding who is right, but in chewing through all the ways, all the different contexts, in which a text can generate meaning. What irks me then are not the blisteringly mean reviews (which can be delightfully inventive) but the unimaginative ones – from readers who could not possibly imagine that a novel distasteful to some might resonate with others, who insist not only that the book and the author have committed a great moral or aesthetic failure, but also that anyone who liked the book is guilty of – well, something. What a boring, sanctimonious way to read.

...I find the worst experiences on Goodreads tend to crop up – as with every other online forum – when reductive, bad-faith arguments are amplified over everything else, when all nuance collapses into a judgment pleasing in its ethical simplicity, and suddenly we’ve all decided to hate a book because a reviewer with a lot of followers said we should. Goodreads doesn’t work when we treat it as a crowdsourced authority, wherein reviewing and liking reviews means voting in a referendum on whether a book has value, and whether its readers are Good, Righteous People.

Milo Todd's logo of a simple, geometric fox head. It has a black nose, white cheeks, and a reddish-orange face and ears.
Until next time, foxies! Be queer, write stories!