Tag Archives: LGBT writing

Therapeutic Memory Reversal

Author’s Note: I’m doing my own mini-McSweeny’s, running pieces of fiction that received multiple rejections from semi-pro or professional paying markets. This story has come close to acceptance half a dozen times but I need to move on to other ideas. I hope you enjoy it for what it is.

A 300-year-old supernova remnant created by the explosion of a massive star.Ze lifts the small crystal cover with one finger and pushes the red knob underneath it. With zir other hand ze holds down a metal knob and turns the instrument clockwise one, two tight clicks, waiting for the trickle of memories to start flowing through zir headpiece. Ze braces zir arms on the counter, the room lights kept low because receiving memories is still painful, even if they get easier to acquire over time.

The sessions with Dad went too far. Well. Really ze doesn’t know what went wrong. Ze only sometimes recalls expressions on people’s faces from before the time on ship. So ze—I—sneak back here and try unlocking another piece. When the other me isn’t busy living a hellishly boring existence.

Ze—I, I, I—I will merge us.


After the scandal and the election some people said it’s the memories that are gone, cauterized by the pulse of this evil, wild device. But ze wonders if maybe just the pathways are gone, and it can rebuild them, like a new bridge, or a portal. I have to try.

He only thinks he is happy.

Zir finger hovers over a green button. Sweat has lined up across my forehead and the back of my neck. I feel a Pavlovian lump in my throat. Before ze can change its mind, I turn the knob two more clicks. This is going to hurt. Read More…

Excerpt from Intermediate Time Travel, the sequel to The Unintentional Time Traveler

street scene from Philadelphia, maybe Center City, shortly after 1900, with what looks like a farm market, horses, customers, and horse drawn wagons all aroundWe were on day four of traveling south to Mobile, Eleanor’s hometown, and we weren’t making much progress with the horses. I knew Pie by herself would be faster than this, but Holiday was a bit older and we had a wagon full of our provisions to boot. And it seemed like every new mile was hotter and stickier. I was driving this portion, not a cloud in the sky to get between us and the sun, and the reins were tacky in my hands, leaving some of the tanning dye on my palms.

“This is gross,” I said to Lucas, who kept nodding off. How dare he try to get out of any of this.

“Mm? What’s gross?”

“This,” I said, waving one arm around in a big circle to mean: everything, dude.

“I think it’s pretty,” he said, and he closed his eyes and hunched himself up against the corner of the seat. As a final screw off to my comment, he pushed his black cowboy hat over his face.

I tried to appreciate the surroundings. Even though there was only one state between Eleanor’s state and ours, the landscape was pretty different. Here the trees were covered in thick green moss on one side, many of them tangled up in some kind of vine. The bird calls were different, too—I didn’t hear any morning doves, but I did spot a few woodpeckers. I was pretty sure we wouldn’t have any run-ins with wolves or coyotes, because all of the big predators seemed to have fled a while ago.

Pie suddenly went lame and stopped walking, snorting instead in a way that made me think he was in real pain. I tapped Lucas on his knee and hopped down to look at the horse. Read More…

Author Interview: Audrey Coulthurst

I had an opportunity to speak recently with writer friend and colleague from the Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Writer’s Workshop, Audrey Coulthurst, about her new two-book deal with HarperCollins. I also wanted to find a way to communicate with the public about how much Audrey likes horses, so hopefully by the end, her potential readers are clear on that.

Audrey wearing a unicorn mask in the foothills of LA

Not exactly a muse, but close.

Congratulations on your publication news with HarperCollins! What was your path to publication?

Thank you! My path to publication was fairly straightforward. After the first draft of A Hidden Affinity was complete I spent a long time finding critique partners and revising. As part of that I participated in the Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Writers Retreat. Studying with Malinda Lo and having a group of very talented writers discuss my work was a true gift.

Once I felt the manuscript was as strong as it could be, I entered a couple of online contests and got some agent requests through those. Then I began to query in earnest, and then a few months later my fabulous agent pulled my query out of the slush and offered representation. We made some more revisions and then she sold the book.

I should probably note that while this whole process can be summed up in a few paragraphs, it took a very long time. The first draft of A Hidden Affinity was written in 2010. Read More…

In Honor of the Closing of a Lesbian Bar

Here’s an old short story of mine about another lesbian bar from upstate New York. Those of you who recall My Bar may find the setting somewhat familiar. I hope you enjoy it.

8 Ball, by Everett Maroon

It’s about the size of a typical urban efficiency apartment, with a faded certificate of occupancy stuck on the wall by the front door, probably with some bouncer’s chewing gum, announcing it is fit to legally house 35 people. Thirty-five dyke pygmies, maybe, but not 35 wide-assed people. Smoke hangs next to the low ceiling, hovering around the light over the small and slanted pool table, a cheap but efficient way of adding a dramatic atmosphere to both the serious and poseur sharks who swim underneath it. Most of the patrons use pool-playing as a tried and true method of picking up dates, but this usually leads to them slamming the stick into the cue ball too hard, ricocheting the shot out of the hole and ending in a staccato set of swears as they express their “disappointment.”

My friends and I have just entered the place for the third time in five days because one of them has a new crush on a townie who usually hangs out here. Usually, however, being the relative term that it is, has not included any of these three nights, and has led directly to my frustration at winding up in this dump once again, cheap beer or no cheap beer.

The bouncer, a woman who seems to value herself based on her ability to be serious throughout all moments of the day and night, claps a meaty hand on Joselyn, the friend with the crush. “How’s it goin’, Jos,” she says, deep-throated and completely absent of any hint of a smile. She is the female version of the Michelin man, having obviously taken the name of her profession to heart. For over these three engaging encounters at My Bar, I have witnessed no fewer than six, count them six, bar fights, the resolution of each ending with her not man-handling the offenders (for that would never happen in a lesbian bar), but by bumping into them and pushing them out the door.

“Great,” says the newly named “Jos,” and we head inside. My Bar, doing its part to encourage patronage of a classically poor community, has no cover. Small rodents didn’t even bother to come inside in the dead of winter, so the owners justifiably decided against asking for any kind of entry fee. Read More…

How to Write Trans Characters (Or at Least Some Decent Ideas on the Subject)

Ev holding his memoirFor the most part last week’s Emerging Writer’s Workshop in LA was a love fest of prose writers, faculty, and poets. We sang karaoke together, we gave supportive critiques of each other’s work, we grumbled about dining hall food in an unseasoned bonding moment. If the workshop was in part to help us network, we hit a grand slam of connectedness. There were a couple of struggles, however, and one of them involved talking about how to help cisgender people “write” trans characters. Not surprisingly, several of us got hung up on definitions and the inclusivity of a given category of gender identity (or even gender-related identity). It’s not that we didn’t work through these issues, and everyone did their best to tease out what their questions were exactly and where they were triggered, and so on, but I’d like to suggest some other ways folks can write about trans people without maybe getting too caught up on the differences between changing definitions. And with all due respect to Jacob Hale et al’s list of how to write on transgender issues, that is really a non-fiction list, and as such, not as helpful for the fiction writer (but writers should read it anyway).

Learn about transfolk and the tensions in the trans community—Yes, one should look over definition lists, asking critical questions about the assumptions that inform the definitions. For example, does the definition of “transvestite” include that it is largely viewed as an archaic and derogatory label? Does the definition of “drag king” limit it to cisgender women only, or is it inclusive of trans-identified men? Is there a discussion about the debate between people who see transsexualism as only a medical issue and those who argue all gender is socially constructed? These differences have a real effect on the ways in which trans people walk through the world, how they use language to describe themselves, and how they relate to others. If you are trying to represent them, then your trans characters should have some background (it may not ever be shown directly in the story) on how they understand themselves. Read More…

Excerpt: Synergy

Here is another excerpt from my novel-in-progress about four gender nonconforming people who try to start an LGBT charter school in DC.

Present Day, Washington, DC

Kalinda fumbles through her still-growing ring of keys, looking for the one that unlocks the personnel file. Final hiring decisions are set for later that day, and Terry had asked her to create summary sheets for the review committee. This has been one of Terry’s “cold” weeks in which he is short with everyone around him. There’s no rhyme or reason to his mood swings, but Kalinda is prescient at seeing them before they hit. She fantasizes about having a signal she can give the rest of the administration so they can brace themselves for a tirade or lecture from him.

Finally, the key slides in past the tumblers in a series of small bounces of metal against metal. Kalinda pulls out two manila folders—one marked MAYBE and one YES. She doesn’t need the NO file anymore, except for posterity and to cover the school’s ass if any of the candidates complain.

Peeking in through her doorway is Terry.

“Ready for this afternoon,” he asks, reading over her shoulder.

“Just about,” she says. She tucks a small handful of red curls behind her ear so she doesn’t have to look through her hair to see him. Read More…

Book Review: The Daughter Star

cover image for The Daughter StarNobody writes a sullen woman like Susan Jane Bigelow. Don’t get me wrong; they have their reasons for their moodiness. Stuck on something of a forced sabbatical with their repressive family in a repressive country, girlfriend unreachable, this corner of the galaxy about to get into an interplanetary war—there are a lot of stresses on young women like Marta Grayline. Bigelow settles us into the tension almost immediately with two quick flashes of prologue, and then we’re immersed in Marta’s world, a familiar story for some of us, even in this far-future science fiction setup: can I hide my queerness while I’m spending time with my relatives?

Marta has tried in full earnestness mode to find her place, even if her choices began with an intense need to leave her home country, Gideon, on the gravity-heavy planet Nea. It’s almost as if it took so much energy to get distance from her preacher father and smothering family that Marta doesn’t have much left for self-confidence. And yet it’s that very sense of self that Marta needs to make a difference in the war between Nea and Adastre. And maybe conversely, it’s the painfulness of coming from a closed family in a closed country on a less-than planet that fuels Marta’s drive. Bigelow does a great job of layering on the sadness and strife that come with the legacy of paternal choices made for an entire people.

Marta finds herself commanded to join her planet’s forces in the war effort, and her little sister Beth worms her way in as an enlistee. Beth is a great foil for Marta: we’re not sure of her intentions for a good long while, and although she’s certainly from the same building blocks as Marta, she seems to be making different choices than her big sister has. There are a few warning flags as they find their way out of Gideon, but Marta is so excited to be back in her element that she overlooks them. Bigelow gives us just enough in the way of tone and word choice that we should be worried for the sisters, because of course outer space during war is not the same as piloting a trade ship in peacetime. Soon enough Marta’s ship is destroyed and she finds herself a captive on a space station, a clear prisoner of the crew there. And now the alien Abrax who were responsible for the Earth’s demise and who have been unseen for hundreds of years, make their reappearance. Bigelow does a great job of touching these presumably distant points back together—what does one young woman’s legacy, one man’s decision made once upon a time, one family’s grip on a made-up tradition all have in common?

Read the book and find out. Highly recommended. The Daughter Star will stick around in my head for a long while.


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