The Queer Writer: October 2023

This October, you know what's scary? Only 17% of eligible people in the US got the last Covid booster in 2022. But now there's a whole brand new, updated Covid vaccine formula available, so let's get those numbers up. Get your boo-ster shot! (Technically it's not a booster, but I refuse to let this joke go.) And get your flu shot while you're at it. You can get both at the same time and studies show that the flu shot should be particularly effective this flu season. We've got a lot of disabled and/or immunocompromised folks in the queer community, so make sure you do your part for solidarity and inclusion. And keep wearing masks in public indoor spaces.

A wonderful amount of readers entered the paid subscription giveaway! The winners have been randomly selected, notified, and now have paid access to The Queer Writer for the next six months. Congratulations, folks! I plan to have more giveaways and freebies for both free and paid members in the future. Stay tuned!

You've all been sending so many great questions into Queeries! I wish I could answer them all and I hope to answer questions more frequently if/when The Queer Writer becomes more sustainable. But in the meantime, I'm glad this new installment of The Queer Writer is providing assistance to people and I hope it continues to lift the fog from the writing and publishing worlds. To submit a question, use this form.

Lastly, a reminder that GrubStreet's LGBTQ+ Writers' Weekend takes place in Boston at the end of this month! Nearly all the events are free, but they still require registration. Space is limited, so if you plan to attend, now's the time to register!

Anyway, to books! There's some wonderful work coming in this month, including young love amidst the Jamaican civil unrest of the 1970s, a funny YA about drag in small-town life, Black teens who want to live off the grid, an agender teen recovering from parental abuse, a graphic novel about magic in 1930s Mississippi, a woman working on the Apollo 11 mission, a Khmer teen whose slam poetry goes viral, an aro/ace anthology, 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!

Here Lies Olive by Kate Anderson

Growing up in the dark tourism capital of the United States, sixteen-year-old Olive should be comfortable with death. But ever since an allergic reaction almost sent her to the wrong side of the grass, she's been terrified that there is no afterlife. And after the death of her surrogate grandmother, Olive has kept everyone at arm's length because if there's Nothing after we die, relationships and love can only end in sorrow. When she summons a spirit to answer her questions about death, Olive meets Jay, a hitchhiking ghost trapped in the woods behind the poorhouse where he died. Olive agrees to help Jay find his unmarked grave in exchange for answers about the other side and what comes next. Meanwhile, someone--or something--is targeting Olive's classmates, and the longer Jay lingers, the more serious the attacks become. Blaming herself for having brought Jay back, Olive teams up with maybe-nemesis, maybe-crush Maren, ex-best friend Davis, and new girl Vanessa to free Jay's spirit before he's trapped as a malevolent shade and the attacks turn deadly. But in doing so, Olive must face her fear of death and risk losing another person she loves to the Nothing.

Being Ace: An Anthology of Queer, Trans, Femme, and Disabled Stories of Asexual Love and Connection by Madeline Dyer (ed.)

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.

Shoot the Moon by Isa Arsén

Intelligent but isolated recent physics graduate Annie Fisk feels an undeniable pull toward space. Her childhood memories dimmed by loss, she has left behind her home, her family, and her first love in pursuit of intellectual fulfillment. When she finally lands a job as a NASA secretary during the Apollo 11 mission, the work is everything she dreamed, and while she feels a budding attraction to one of the engineers, she can't get distracted. Not now. When her inability to ignore mistaken calculations propels her into a new position, Annie finds herself torn between her ambition, her heart, and a mysterious discovery that upends everything she knows to be scientifically true. Can she overcome her doubts and reach beyond the limits of time and space?

Salt the Water by Candice Iloh

Cerulean Gene is free everywhere except school, where they're known for repeatedly challenging authority. Raised in a free-spirited home by two loving parents who encourage Cerulean to be their full self, they've got big dreams of moving cross-country to live off the grid with their friends after graduation. But a fight with a teacher spirals out of control, and Cerulean impulsively drops out to avoid the punishment they fear is coming. Why wait for graduation to leave an oppressive capitalist system and live their dreams? Cerulean is truly brilliant, but their sheltered upbringing hasn't prepared them for the consequences of their choice -- especially not when it's compounded by a family emergency that puts a parent out of work. Suddenly the money they'd been stacking with their friends is a resource that the family needs to stay afloat. Salt the Water is a book about dreaming in a world that has other plans for your time, your youth, and your future. It asks, what does it look like when a bunch of queer Black kids are allowed to dream? And what does it look like for them to confront the present circumstances of the people they love while still pursuing a wildly different future of their own?

Kween by Vichet Chum

Soma Kear's verses have gone viral. Trouble is, she didn't exactly think her slam poetry video through. All she knew was that her rhymes were urgent. On fire. An expression of where she was, and that place...was a hot mess. Following her Ba's deportation back to Cambodia, everything's changed. Her Ma is away trying to help Ba adjust to his new life, and her older sister has taken charge with a new authoritarian tone. Meanwhile, Soma's trending video pushes her to ask if it's time to level up. With her school's spoken word contest looming, Soma must decide: Is she brave enough to put herself out there? To publicly reveal her fears of Ba not returning? To admit that things may never be the same? With every line she spits, Soma searches for a way to make sense of the world around her. The answers are at the mic.

Dragging Mason County by Curtis Campbell

Peter Thompkins needs a public image overhaul. After a tense confrontation with one of the few other queer kids in his small-town high school, rumors about him are becoming more elaborate by the day. Meanwhile, his best friend Alan (aka teen drag queen Aggie Culture) is throwing Mason County's debut Drag Extravaganza. Although Peter is a self-described "dragnostic," he decides to help produce the show, hoping to prove that he isn't a self-hating gay. In the process, he finds himself facing down angry guard dogs, angrier bigots, and a very high-strung church lady. As backlash grows, Peter begins to wonder whether he's setting fire to his already damaged reputation and if his friendship with Alan will survive past curtain call.

The Evolving Truth of Ever-Stronger Will by Maya MacGregor

Will is a 17-year-old on the cusp of freedom: freedom from providing and caring for their abusive, addicted mother, freedom from their small town with an even smaller mindset, and the freedom from having to hide who they truly are. When their drug dealer mother dies months before their 18th birthday, Will is granted their freedom earlier than expected. But their mother's last words haunt Will: She cursed them with her dying breath, claiming her death was their fault. Soon their mother's drug-dealing past threatens Will's new shiny future, leaving Will scrambling to find their beloved former foster mother Raz before Child Protective Services or local drug dealers find them first. But how do you reconnect with family and embark on a new love when you're convinced you destroy everything you touch?

Brooms by Jasmine Walls and Teo Duvall

It's 1930s Mississippi. Magic is permitted only in certain circumstances, and by certain people. Unsanctioned broom racing is banned. But for those who need the money, or the's there to be found. Meet Billie Mae, captain of the Night Storms racing team, and Loretta, her best friend and second-in-command. They're determined to make enough money to move out west to a state that allows Black folks to legally use magic and take part in national races. Cheng-Kwan - doing her best to handle the delicate and dangerous double act of being the perfect "son" to her parents, and being true to herself while racing. Mattie and Emma -- Choctaw and Black -- the youngest of the group and trying to dodge government officials who want to send them and their newly-surfaced powers away to boarding school. And Luella, in love with Billie Mae. Her powers were sealed away years ago after she fought back against the government. She'll do anything to prevent the same fate for her cousins.

The Spells We Cast by Jason June

Nigel Barrett has spent his whole life preparing for the Culling, a spell-casting competition that determines which of the world's teenage magicians will be stripped of their powers to preserve magical balance. But nothing could have prepared him to face Ori Olson, a broody rival whose caustic wit cloaks a painful past. From the moment Nigel and Ori meet, sparks fly. Their powers are stronger, more thrilling, the closer they get--not that they can risk becoming attached. Because as the field narrows and the Culling grows more dangerous, Nigel and Ori realize there's more at stake than just their powers. The greatest threat to magic, their future, and all of humanity might be the connection growing between them...

Songs of Irie by Asha Ashanti Bromfield

It's 1976 and Jamaica is on fire. The country is on the eve of important elections and the warring political parties have made the divisions between the poor and the wealthy even wider. And Irie and Jilly come from very different backgrounds: Irie is from the heart of Kingston, where fighting in the streets is common. Jilly is from the hills, where mansions nestled within lush gardens remain safe behind gates. But the two bond through a shared love of Reggae music, spending time together at Irie's father's record store, listening to so-called rebel music that opens Jilly's mind to a sound and a way of thinking she's never heard before. As tensions build in the streets, so do tensions between the two girls. A budding romance between them complicates things further as the push and pull between their two lives becomes impossible to bear. For Irie, fighting--with her words and her voice--is her only option. Blood is shed on the streets in front of her every day. She has no choice. But Jilly can always choose to escape.Can their bond survive this impossible divide?

He/She/They: How We Talk about Gender and Why It Matters by Schuyler Bailar

Anti-transgender legislation is being introduced in state governments around the United States in record-breaking numbers. Trans people are under attack in sports, healthcare, school curriculum, bathrooms, bars, and nearly every walk of life. He/She/They clearly and compassionately addresses fundamental topics, from why being transgender is not a choice and why pronouns are important, to more complex issues including how gender-affirming healthcare can be lifesaving and why allowing trans youth to play sports is good for all kids. With a relatable narrative rooted in facts, science, and history, Schuyler helps restore common sense and humanity to a discussion that continues to be divisively coopted and deceptively politicized. Schuyler Bailar didn't set out to be an activist, but his very public transition to the Harvard men's swim team put him in the spotlight. His choice to be open about his transition and share his experience has touched people around the world. His plain-spoken education has evolved into tireless advocacy for inclusion and collective liberation. In He/She/They, Schuyler uses storytelling and the art of conversation to give us the essential language and context of gender, meeting everyone where they are and paving the way for understanding, acceptance, and, most importantly: connection. He/She/They is more than a book on allyship; it also speaks to trans folks directly, answering the question, "does it get better?" with a resounding yes, celebrating radical trans joy.


2023-2024 Saints + Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival Short Fiction Contest

  • What: "The winner will be selected from this year’s submissions of original, unpublished short stories between 3,000 and 7,000 words with LGBT content on the broad theme of 'Saints and Sinners.' This contest would not be possible without a generous grant from The John Burton Harter Foundation."
  • Fee: $20
  • Pay: Publication in anthology and $500 grand prize / $100 second place prize
  • Deadline: October 1st, 2023

Stonecoast Review Issue #20: Winter 2024

  • What: "Stonecoast Review is a Pushcart Prize-winning literary magazine aiming to publish innovative and deeply resonant literature that embodies our core values of justice, awareness, and exploration. We seek work from both emerging and established writers."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: October 1st, 2023

So to Speak: Fiction 2024

  • What: "So to Speak is seeking fiction with an intersectional feminist lens! The fiction team is looking for short stories and flash fiction pieces that engage, challenge, and surprise us. We particularly love stories that tackle multiple intersections (of race, class, ability, sexuality, and/or gender identity) and allow us to hear points of view that are not often heard."
  • Fee: N/A
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: October 1st, 2023

Embodied Exegesis: Transfeminine Cyberpunk Futures

  • What: "This anthology, edited by Ann LeBlanc, will feature cyberpunk stories written by transfem authors. What we want to see: Augmented bodies. Uploaded minds. Cybernetics, real cities, and virtual worlds. Putting the trans in transhumanism. Submissions are open to transfem authors, including trans women, transfems, nonbinary trans women, etc. We’re not the gender cops, and you don’t need to justify or explain your identity. If you think you’d fit in an anthology of transfem authors, you belong here. We’re especially interested in submissions from disabled writers, Black writers, Indigenous/Native writers, and other writers of color. Please don’t self-reject."
  • Fee: N/A
  • Pay: $0.08/word for originals, $0.01/word for reprints
  • Deadline: October 15th, 2023

Queer Adventures LGBTQ Writing Contest 2023: Firsts

  • What: "This year’s LGBTQ writing contest theme, FIRSTS, is an opportunity to share your own queer travel adventurers with an LGBTQ audience. Your essay just might inspire someone to stretch their comfort zone and try a new activity!"
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $150
  • Deadline: October 31st, 2023

Exist Otherwise: November 2023

  • What: "Free bi-monthly online journal of creative writing and photography. Our muse and inspiration is the gender-non-conforming writer, photographer, actor, and activist, Claude Cahun. We seek work that is personal and willing to challenge. Submissions are always open."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $10
  • Deadline: October 31st, 2023

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

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


Goodreads Is Terrible for Books. Why Can’t We All Quit It?

by Tajja Isen

The awfulness of the user experience is surprising, given Amazon’s purchase of Goodreads in 2013. The acquisition had the potential to make the platform a major channel for book sales and marketing, though consensus seems to be that Amazon has largely abandoned it. The resulting site and its splintering purposes often feel incoherent. As an experience, it’s not entirely clear who it’s for, where its responsibilities lie, and what its function should be in a rapidly changing literary ecosystem. But despite the site’s muddied purposes and tendency to breed controversy, the book industry is still dependent on it, even beholden to it. As books coverage declines and marketing budgets shrink, Goodreads offers a rare way to get a title in front of a huge audience—approximately 90 million users—of self-selecting readers. It runs buzzy giveaway campaigns, author interviews, and lists rounding up the season’s biggest books. All these features are aimed at getting a fraction of those 90 million readers to click that prized “to-read” button, a crude prediction of that book’s future in the marketplace.

With so many stakeholders aiming to drive up the number of reviews, the genre of the review itself takes on an outsize significance. Much has been written about the practice of “review bombing”—when users flood a forthcoming book with one-star reviews out of an agenda rather than textual engagement. The point isn’t for people to talk smack about a book they didn’t like but to hurt the fate of one they probably haven’t read and that probably isn’t out yet.

Booklash: Literary Freedom, Online Outrage, and the Language of Harm

by PEN America

In the past few years, the literary community has seen waves of activism that have galvanized much-needed and overdue change in the industry. National movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo have pushed publishers to recommit to accountability, representation, and social justice more broadly. Readers are challenging stereotypes, stimulating new conversations about responsible storytelling, and pushing for a more diverse, representative publishing industry.

As PEN America previously detailed in Reading Between the Lines: Race, Equity, and Book Publishing, our 2022 report on roadblocks to greater diversity in the industry, this new wave of literary activism is pushing for a more diverse literary canon, one that better reflects the American populace today. That work is far from done, and PEN America has called upon publishers to reexamine some of their core conventions – from the structure of author advances to the norms of the acquisition process –to open up greater opportunities for writers with varying backgrounds and degrees of access to the industry.

...Some of the objections to books – as harmful, dangerous, or hateful, especially to children – that have led to author and publisher withdrawals mirror rhetoric that has led to pulling books from school and library shelves in Florida, Texas, and elsewhere. If advocates for an open society accept the principle that books should be as widely available as possible, that readers should have access to a broad range of topics and perspectives, that offense taken by certain groups of readers cannot be grounds to withhold books from availability, and that withdrawing books from circulation is rarely—if ever—justified, these precepts must extend not just to government book banning but also to how the literary community governs itself.

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!