Sapphic Graphic Novels || A Guest Post by Candela

I love comics and graphic novels, but I don’t really feel like as a queer woman, I belong. In the last two years I have found that there is a place for me in this wonderful, hopeful and colorful world. Of course, there are too many identities missing, too many stories untold. But there are also many amazing and important graphic novels and comics that deserve all the support.

So here there are my two cents, four sapphic graphic novels that I loved. And please, feel free to leave me your recommendations!  Continuar lendo

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Second Novel Syndrome || A Guest Post by Kit Eyre

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Second novel syndrome – it’s such a recognised problem that an internet search brings up results from major publications and indie bloggers alike. There’s even an award presented by the Royal Society of Literature called the Encore Award for the best second novel. In short, there’s anxiety and reward. The trouble is, when you’re a self-published author, you tend to get far more of the anxiety.

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Write What You Know || Guest Post by Niamh Murphy

We have all heard that phrase before. Even those of you who aren’t writers have heard it repeated in films, articles, and English classes.

But we all know that there are stories of magic, dinosaurs, space-battles, pirates, and schoolboy wizards that can’t possibly have been drawn from the writer’s own life (no matter how much we hope that J. K. Rowling is telling the truth about Hogwarts).

So how do we cross the great divide of the fantastic whilst maintaining that fundamental authors’ tenet?

Research.

Research it until you know it. Then write it!

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Reading my Sexuality || Guest Post by Susie Purvis

When I was discovering my sexuality, and coming out in the early to mid-noughties I felt extremely alone. I grew up in a very religious, Christian community where I went to church multiple times a week, sang in the church youth band, and was a faith-based youth leader and community outreach worker for my church. The first time I tried to test the waters telling someone what I was feeling and realising about myself, I was met with a very typical but nonetheless hurtful, “That’s disgusting and so wrong!”.

Growing up, I had never been any good at making close friends. I always found myself in a large group of friends, I was rarely totally alone, but I still felt disconnected and on the outside. Reading has always been a true love of mine and growing up feeling disconnected from my sometimes-troubled world, I often sought refuge in the books I read. The characters were my friends and family, and their experiences and adventures were mine too.

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Catch That Feeling || Guest Post by Cait

Nicola Lancaster and Battle Hall Davies.

I don’t speak of these two characters very much or even the book in which I read of them, Empress of the World by Sara Ryan. Which is odd considering the impact they had on me. It was way back when in 2007, I was a sophomore just getting my bearings in high school surrounded by hormones and a critical lack of self-awareness. Nicola, or Nic, and Battle are two teenage girls who meet at a camp for gifted students and begin a summer romance. They were my first encounter reading bisexual characters. With confidence, Nic informed the reader that her romantic attraction to Battle didn’t take away all the romantic feelings she had for boys in the past. She asserts that she still likes boys but she likes girls too, that she’s sure to have feelings for either gender in the future.

At the time, I was aware that I was attracted to men and woman but was hesitant to acknowledge it, even in my own thoughts. So there was something extraordinary about reading that, in print, in a book I took out at the school library. The feelings I had but never spoke of had a legitimacy that I had silently desired. I don’t remember if the word bisexual ever gets used in the book. It would take a couple of years for me to identify myself as bisexual. But Nic’s feelings were my feelings. Battle’s feelings were my feelings.There is something to be said about that emotion one gets when the thoughts you originally thought were unique to you, are mirrored in the characters of a story you’re reading. It’s almost indescribable, that mixture of happiness and relief that I felt in that moment. But boiled down and in the simplest way, I will try to explain. I had received a profound moment of clarification and one of the most hopeful messages I had ever received in my life; that I was not alone.

And that feeling? I began to chase it.

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Trans-Inclusive Sapphic Relationships in the Media || by Sari Taurez

The only mainstream representation of my marriage has been (for the most part) cancelled.

The Netflix series Sense8, featuring a trans-inclusive sapphic relationship between Amanita and Nomi, will no longer be gracing the screens of its viewers. For two seasons people watched these two women, very much in love, face the hardships before them. I know of no other mainstream fictional relationship to replace it.

 

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It felt nice to have something I could point to and say, “Look! That’s us”. Had it been allowed to continue beyond the two-hour finale that will air in 2018, maybe I could have more of those moments.

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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

 

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.