Sooner or Later || by Celeste Castro

During my childhood the sizzling of hotdogs and the smell of chili indicated it was Friday night in the Castro household. Get the mustard. Set the table. Feed the dog. Dinner! How was your week? As the youngest of four I couldn’t compete. How could I top a tale as exhilarating as my brother’s detailed account of peeling dried glue off his hand in one single sheet? Or my sister’s account of how she had saved her entire class by raising her hand to tell Mrs. Trumble that Holly had white bugs crawling in her hair. The few times I was able to get a word in edgewise it was taken out of context. “Is this my bike?” I yelled on my way up to see Santa at my dad’s company Christmas party. I carried the three by three inch wrapped gift back to my seat. Surely why not? My dad had tools. “I won a dime in the spelling B…” Congrats! That I promptly threw away, my consolation prize for being the first to tap out. The word was: Truck. T-R-U-K. I won’t bother to tell you about my lisp phase. And so was the plight of this youngest of four. The sauciest of comebacks a dollar too short. A day, make that a week and sometimes several years too late. Like driving down the interstate at seventy miles per hour. It’s raining and it’s loud, but a bridge is ahead then deafening silence as you pass underneath it. That was your moment! Darn it’s too late.

Yet here I am using my voice, it’s a voice in a sea of much more eloquent voices. I’m classically untrained. I took English 101 three times. Third time was the charm that and a tutor. What’s an Oxford comma? How does it differ from a Yorkshire comma? Does Kansas have a comma? I know that’s not a thing. I have no business writing, but I do anyway. I use made up words for my made up worlds. My observations from a life of listening. It may not look pretty or sound that way either. I’ve come to enjoy the looks paid upon me. Pinched brows, nervous laughter and avoidance of eye contact. Maybe it’s my irreverent nature? My jokes about Jesus? Or Nunscects, my upcoming comic book about nuns and insects. Coming soon, no really! I have found my voice and have found my platform through books and art and poetry. Where can I use this? I better write that shit down. Sooner or later it’ll make a ton of sense.

About the Author:

Celeste Castro, @writerceleste, is Mexican, dyslexic and a janitor by trade and a lot of other things too including the author of Homecoming a lesbian romance.

How Embracing My Sexuality Helped Me Get My Creative Groove Back || by Maggie Derrick

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From the time I was a child until I went off to university, I knew exactly who I was: an artist.

Art was my everything; other interests came and went but drawing and painting were always there. Having a creative outlet helped me get through my parents’ divorce and, later, my tumultuous teen years. In fact, right up to the point where I applied for uni, I was convinced my future profession was going to be in the arts. It had to be – it was who I was.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t end up going to art school.

Instead, I spent five years chasing down my B.A. and a certificate in PR before launching myself headlong into my career. I enjoyed it, but my art seriously suffered. By the time I graduated I couldn’t have even told you where to find my once ever-present sketchbooks. All that love and passion had been buried beneath the responsibilities of adulthood and the confusion that came with realizing I didn’t know myself or what I wanted out of life quite as clearly as I had previously thought.

The loss of my creative spark broke my heart, but it was a light I couldn’t seem to summon back. I went a nearly a decade without making anything that wasn’t somehow tied to my career; something just for me.

And then, I came out. Continuar lendo

What I’d like to see more in Femslash || Libertad Tomas

I know it sounds corny, but books have always been that small doorway into another person’s shoes when you’ve worn out your own. When I started actively seeking inclusive books, I was ecstatic to finally find stories that mirrored my narrative, were the complete opposite of my narrative and all that’s in between.

I believe 2013 was the year I actively sought out f/f romance books, and at the time it didn’t bother me that a majority of them featured only white couples. I think I was just excited to read stories where women were in love with each other regardless of how they identified, but since I was reading a lot of YA and NA romance that featured people of color in them, I wanted to see more f/f books that reflected the cishet-m/f books I read.

I want more than anything to see two women of color learn from each other, love each other, and help shape the views of their possibly problematic upbringings because being a PoC doesn’t automatically mean we know and understand each other completely.

For example, I grew up in a home where we identified as both Black, but Latinx as well. I wish that meant that I grew up in an incredibly woke and inclusive household, but if I said that I’d be lying. I come from a family who would bleed tears if you mis-cultured them, but that will refer to any Asian person as Chinese. Or misgender(or flat out use an offensive term) a trans person, and sees mental illnesses as “White people problems”. Even in a loving home, there’s a lot of hostility from the generation before us. You want to be “woke” but it almost always requires unlearning from your first teachers.

Your family.

I know other PoCs who can relate to this even though they’re afraid to admit it. It’s not easy constantly having to correct family, especially when you come from cultures where you’re supposed to respect the wisdom of those who paved the way for you. Sometimes it is a lot of wasted energy to convince people that came before you, when they’re so stuck in their ways. It’s exhausting, and sometimes the time it takes is better spent on someone willing to learn.

But to steer away from the family conversation, like most Black girls, you learn very quickly where society has ranked you regarding desirability. I think if it hadn’t been for the surge of recent books featuring Black main characters in the last few years, I would’ve never thought it possible for a Black girl to be the object of someone’s desire or value(value and desirability are two different things, and way too long for this post).

While m/f is getting better with representation with sistas(colloquial for Black women), I’d love to see f/f show the same initiative especially with another woman of color. Not to say this is wrong, but a lot of interracial romance focuses on white person + person of color= interracial. It’s not rare, but it’s not supported as much when f/f feature two women of color.

A reconnection with a former friend lead into a conversation about her admitting the only women she wouldn’t date were Black. Ironically she could date a Black man, but a Black woman was totally off limits (needless to say, that friendship dissolved).

I tripped it off as just a “preference” back then, but it was then I started feeling Black women struggle in a lot of spaces where they should be more inclusive. Not that I’m saying fiction is the only place to build from or an end-all-be-all to ending racial tension, but it’s a better start than not starting at all.

I want to see a woman of color appreciate another woman of color’s brown or black skin when the entire world is telling them not to. I think we need to bridge the gap between cultures, because being a person of color doesn’t excuse you from having problematic thoughts about another person of color’s culture. I see more white people learning their views can be problematic but never PoCs with another fellow PoC.

I want more f/f that reflects my experience or culture(or other PoCs), because a lot of queer culture depicted is from a white gaze, and brown and black folx have a unique queer culture that we don’t see portrayed in fiction at the same rates.

I want to see more f/f with women of color where they have disabilities, have different spiritual beliefs, or don’t have traditional coming out stories. I want to see more women of color enemies/rivals to lovers, more women of color in office romances and women of color in celebrity romances too!

The list could go on if I let it, but most of all, I just want to see more women of color. Period.

 

About the Author:

G.L. Tomas is a twin writing duo and lover of all things blerdy, fearless and fun. When they’re not spending their time crafting swoon-worthy heroes, they’re battling alien forces in other worlds but occasionally take days off in search mom and pop spots that make amazing pasteles and tostones fried to perfection.

They host salsa lessons and book boyfriend auditions in their secret headquarters located in Connecticut.

We specialize in New Adult, Young Adult, Romance, and Fantasy! If you love QWoC, inclusive religious, racial, socio-economic, cultural, LGBTQ+, and size(and everything we forgot to mention) representation, check our books out =D

Social media links:

Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

 

Author Interview || Chelsea M. Cameron

We are closing June’s author interviews with Chelsea M. Cameron. I got to know her work recently through Violet Hill, a series of adorable novellas with F/F pairings and have been following her work since then. Chelsea’s stories are great and I’m happy I had the chance to talk with her so we could introduce her work to even more people.

Interview

Q1: Your Violet Hill series is all about cute F/F romance which is something that I adore. Did you have any inspiration or something that ignited the idea of this series?

I really wanted to write about a safe queer space, so I had the idea for the café first. I knew that people would say having such a huge queer community in small-town Maine was “unrealistic” which is one of the reasons why I did it. After I had the idea for the café, the other stories came from there. Mostly when I write queer stories, I like to take a trope that’s been done to death in non-queer stories and then do that. Because I can 🙂 So I took the idea of the “best friends to lovers” and did it with two girls.

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Review by Nicky || Pulse by Ratana Satis

 

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I am always on the hunt for great lesbian stories. Over the years, I have delved into indie books and films, YouTube web series, Yuri (lesbian) manga and the few shows, movies and books that mainstream deigns to allow. Most of these niche outlets are often underrated as great literary alternatives.

For example, manga and manhwa (Korean comics) have amazing Yuri stories and not just one or two but hundreds. One of my favorites – and the one that drew me into the world of Yuri manga/manhwa – is Pulse by Ratana Satis, a Thai comic artist.

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Unlabelled || by M. Hollis

I’m eleven years old when I see two girls kissing in the rain in the middle of a music video. It feels like those times where there is a couple having sex in a movie and you have to pretend nothing is going on or your parents will know that you know what sex is. Every time my mom walks into the room I have this strong need to look away, to change the channel as quick as I can before she thinks I’m like them.

I don’t even know where I learned that this was wrong.

I’m fourteen years old when Marissa Cooper kisses a girl on The O.C. I’m alone in my parents’ bed, as I always do to watch my favorite shows on TV. I hope no one comes in. I hope this awful feeling inside of me goes away.

And I breathe with relief when it’s just a phase.

I’m eighteen years old when my friend comes out to me. It’s messy and we fight and I look away from the screen because I don’t want to see this thing living inside of me too. I dream of kissing her mouth in a dark beach where nothing else exists and this isn’t just a malfunction in my system.

She still thinks I hate her for it.

I’m twenty-two years old when Carmilla and Laura kiss after thirty-six episodes of my heart beating so fast and my smile hurting my face. The words grow inside of me like flowers in a rose garden and I know I’m not ever going back to denial.

They live in every word I write from then on.

I’m twenty-three when Sophie Winters is in love with her best friend and they have angry sex on her bedroom floor. My eyes are wide and my hands are shaking as I flip the pages of the book and I realize girls can have this too.

My body never stops burning anymore.

I’m twenty-four when a girl finally asks me if I want to kiss her. My brain stops functioning and I pace for hours in my bedroom because this just can’t be real. She asks all the right questions and touches me like I’m not the devil and I start to believe I’m not made of stone.

We let go and our goodbye tastes like new beginnings.

I’m twenty-five years old and every girl in the world is so beautiful and so far away from me. I have labels attached in the wrong places and everything feels like too much. My heart aches for something that I can’t explain and my body just implores for the relief that I can’t ever reach.

And in the end, I can’t even say it out loud.

But what I do know is that I won’t ever let people make me believe anymore that my love for women is something to be ashamed. I’ll write and read about their bodies and minds and all the ways you can be free by the use of a look or the touch of a hand. Because in a world that tells you that women are made for men’s desires what does it means to be the one who desires them too?

I won’t be the one to look away once again.

I’ll stare at the abyss and jump without fear because there is not better battle than the one you fight for yourself.

And I’m starting right here.

About the Author:

M. Hollis is a Brazilian YA/NA writer with a focus on F/F stories. When she isn’t scrolling around her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies. She wants to write many stories for women who love other women with happy endings and hopeful beginnings.

Social Media Links:

Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

Author Interview || Guinevere Tomas

GL Tomas are two of my favorite authors out there and I’m so happy they agreed to collaborate with Bibliosapphic this month. They decided to do each one a post so today we have Guinevere doing an interview and soon Libertad will bring a Guest Post too. Thank you, Guin, for all your nice words and for taking your time to talk with me about your writing.

Interview

Q1: You’ve published so many wonderful books already. Is there one that was your absolutely favorite to write?

Hmmm…since this is Guin talking, it’s kind of difficult to say. I think the one book/series Libertad and I would both be able to agree on is The Mark of Noba, our debut novel.

It’s a YA Urban Fantasy, so it’s not what people are accustom or used to reading from us. But a lot of people don’t realize the risks we take in New Adult Contemporary are because of the response we got from that book.

Tetra, one of the main characters in the book was our first queer main character in a novel, and is own voices in the way where she’s a dark skinned Black girl but also pansexual. I don’t want to erase that she’s also bigender, but that’s the identity of Tetra’s we don’t identify with.

Tetra is what we refer to as a “difficult” heroine. The point was to make her unlikeable, which is why I think people tend to like her because we’re cultured to only like Black girls whom are pleasant, nice, or people pleasers. She kind of mirrors my frustration of what it’s like to be considered difficult, when girls of other races don’t get those labels.

Long story short, we wouldn’t have taken the risks of making unlikeable heroines without The Mark of Noba having been in our backlist. Now we just have to write the rest of the series ;p Continuar lendo

Author Interview || Shira Glassman

We welcome Shira Glassman for our second author interview today on the blog! Shira writes Fantasy and Contemporary LGBT+ stories with Jewish characters, all of them with happy endings and wonderful storytelling. I love the answers she’s bringing for these questions and I hope everyone else enjoys them and go take a look at her work!

Interview

Q1: You recently released Knit One, Girl Two, an absolutely adorable novelette. And I wanted to ask, what was your inspiration for that story?

My good friend Caitlin Cieslewska dyes yarn for a living, in her magical garage studio her husband calls “Yarnia.” I was staying with her one weekend when my life was in shambles and I guess I just found her job really inspiring. “What,” I thought to myself, “if I wrote fluffy lesbian romance about an indie dyer?” The rest of it fell into place pretty quickly from there. I mean, her colorways (a yarn word for ‘color combination’) are just so gorgeous that they make you want to write stories about yarn. Take a peek; they stripe on their own. Continuar lendo

Guest Post || Iori Kusano

There is a man looking over my shoulder while I write.

I am alone in the room, but he’s right there, pressed in close, his exhale too hot and damp on my ear, my neck.

“Hot,” he says. “I like it.”

I delete the whole paragraph and start over.

***

I am burdened with the constant awareness of how I look from the outside at any given moment—walking down the street, eating, lying in bed. I am never without it; it hums in the back of my mind, and this internal voyeur is always judging my performance. Are my lips painted on perfectly? Do I hold my wineglass just so? Have I angled my posture to show my silhouette to the best advantage?
Implicit in this judgment is that I pass muster when I am attractive. And we all know what “attractive” really means by now, don’t we? We try to define it for ourselves but it takes years and years to unlearn the male gaze that’s been trained into us. It’s not our fault; it’s so prevalent, and it seeps into us before we have the tools to identify or fight it. I was nine years old the first time someone told me I was sexy. “You have great legs,” she explained. “That’s how you’re gonna get a guy.”

She was nine, too.

So I suppose it’s perfectly natural that there’s this imaginary man inside me, an inescapable voyeur examining me from every angle, and that he’s also privy to my writing. It’s an exhausting thing to deal with every day. I am constantly worried that any femslash I write is tainted by male-authored depictions of lesbianism. Most of the lesbian porn I’ve ever seen was produced by straight men for other straight men. Most of the fandom content I’ve consumed, while written by women, was usually about men. It’s only in the last five years or so that I’ve been able to find stories that resonate with me, that don’t leave me feeling like the author is exploiting female relationships for a cheap thrill.

And even the “good” stuff has its flaws, of course. Last month I went to see The Handmaiden with a friend. It’s probably the most respectful and sensitive depiction of a lesbian relationship I’ve ever seen onscreen, but as soon as we were out of the theater we both burst out laughing.

“Does anyone scissor? Seriously?”

“I bet straight people wrote that part.”

Lived experience has helped narrow the gap; the push for #ownvoices stories in the last few years has helped too. But some days I don’t feel like it’s enough, like nothing can erase everything I grew up consuming. So I reread every scene I write obsessively, wondering whether I’m really depicting a relationship between women, or just a male fantasy of a relationship between women. I cut whole scenes, I fade to black or fast-forward, I second-guess myself. Am I writing what I want to read, or am I writing something to titillate some faceless monolithic Man? Am I capable of telling the difference, when the media I grew up consuming filtered through a male gaze?

A worse, darker thought: we learn how to be from what we read and what we see. What if even the way I behave in my real-life relationships with women has been dictated by all these male portrayals of lesbianism?

I’m learning to make my peace with these questions, but it’s slow going. Even if I don’t emulate the media I’ve consumed, the fact that I’m always pushing back against it shows the scars it’s left behind. But I can let those fetishistic, voyeuristic depictions show me what not to do. I can write to my own experience, and hope that it lets other women see sapphic relationships that aren’t filtered through a male gaze. And I can talk about this pressure in hopes of opening up a dialogue around it. What can we do to create the stories we deserve?

About the Author

Iori Kusano is an Asian American writer and traveling grad student specializing in classical Japanese literature. Her fiction has previously appeared in Apex Magazine. Find her on Twitter @IoriKusano and Instagram as iori_stagram.

Author Interview || Jennifer Linsky

For our first author interview I had the pleasure of talking with Jennifer Linsky. She recently released her first F/F SciFi novel Flowers of Luna, about a girl who goes to study fashion on the Moon in a futuristic world. It’s a wonderful, diverse, and adorable romance that I definitely recommend to everyone.

Thank you for giving us some of your time, Jenny!

Interview

Q1: Your debut book Flowers of Luna just came out a few months ago. How did you feel finally seeing your story out in the world?

It’s a terrifying thing, really, publishing a book. I started writing Flowers of Luna because I was trying to make sense of a breakup that hurt me deeply, and I put a lot of myself into the writing. But when you send a book out into the world, you give up on it being uniquely yours — now it’s different things to different people, and their interpretation is probably as valid as yours.

And it’s exciting and gratifying that most of the response to the book has been very, very positive, but the people who have been negative about it have been very negative, and it’s difficult not to take that personally.

Q2: I’m curious to know where the idea of a future set on the Moon came from. Can you tell us a bit about your inspirations for this worldbuilding?

I’m a life-long SciFi fan, offspring of two life-long SciFi fans. One of my earliest memories is of going to see 2001: A Space Odyssey in the cinema, and being just overwhelmed by wonder at the magnificent desolation of the Lunar landscape. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to live on the Moon. The specific vision I have of the Moon is influenced by Heinlein and Varley, Hisae Iwaoka and Ai Yazawa, and even Ken MaLeod and Wil McCarthy, all blended and fermented in my own imagination.

And, like the twin sister of my viewpoint character, I attended Northern Arizona University, where the local Society for Creative Anachronism group is the College of Sankt Vladimir.

 

Q3: What are some LGBT+ writers that you admire?

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