Summer Reading: Pride Edition

Happy Pride! The entire month of June is a recognition, celebration, and honoring of LGBTQIA individuals. While there are many ways to celebrate, I plan to spend part of June reading books by LGBTQIA authors.

One of my 2019 resolutions was to read at least one book per month that someone recommended to me. I put out a request on Twitter for recommended reads by queer authors. One user recommended White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, which is on its way to my front door as we speak. I look forward to reading that one!

As far as my own recommendations, here are some books I’ve enjoyed that were written by LGBTQIA authors. I recommend them for Pride month and, of course, for any month.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado — a fascinating collection of feminist horror. My favorite story was “Inventories.”

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay — another great collection of short fiction. My favorite story was “Water, All Its Weight.”

Dry by Augusten Burroughs — Burroughs is one of my favorite authors, and you really can’t go wrong with any of his books.

Letters for Lucardo, Vol. 1 by Otava Heikkilä — a tender, erotic comic about a May-December romance between a human and a vampire.

F4 by Larissa Glaser — a wild, crazy, sexy creature tale that’s perfect for summer.

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag — a graphic novel about a young boy who yearns to be a witch.

I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arcenaux — a wonderful, funny collection of essays.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby — I laughed now just remembering this book. The essays within are a scream.

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Allison Bechdel — a “best of” treasury of Bechdel’s amazing comic.

Do you have any recommended reads for Pride? Leave them in the comments below!

Accepted!

This past weekend, I received my first acceptance letter! *throws all the confetti*

confetti corgi

Camden Park Press is releasing an anthology called “Quoth the Raven.” It will feature stories and poems that put a modern twist on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I adore Poe’s work (more on that further below), and decided to write a story and try my luck. I’m happy and proud to say that my story was chosen for the anthology! My story, “Hearts are Just ‘Likes’,” moves “The Tell-Tale Heart” to social media. It was fun to write, and I can’t wait for all of you to read it as part of this awesome collection.

While I’ve self-published my last two books, I’ve been submitting short stories to contests and calls for submission from various journals, magazines, and anthologies. I started a rejection collection to collect my rejection letters. When I created it, I held out hope that one day, I’d start an acceptance collection. I officially started one today.

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I chose a picture of Ina Garten because I admire her — I try to follow Roxane Gay’s credo, quoted on the binder cover, in my own day-to-day — and because when I found the picture of her cookbook, How Easy is That?, I smirked at how she’ll often say that even after preparing something that’s kind of complicated. I thought more deeply about this — as I do — and thought about how cooking seems easy when you’ve done it for years and when you’re seeing the finished product. It can be easy to forget all the ingredients and prep that went into an “easy” scone, just like it can be easy to forget all the failed scones that came before the successful one.

acceptance collection
I’m pretty excited.

While I don’t consider one acceptance letter to be the perfect scone, I chose that Ina photo because I wanted to remind myself that it took many steps — and many falls — to get to acceptance. It can be easy to forget that it wasn’t easy, that there were drafts and unfinished stories and rejected stories before the first (and hopefully not the last) acceptance came through. I added that picture to help me remember.

ina garten
This picture was a close second.

I am especially thrilled that my first acceptance was to a Poe-themed anthology. I started reading Poe’s work when I was eleven years old. I did a dramatic reading of the ending of “The Cask of Amontillado” for a sixth grade project (and I, for one, think I was robbed of being selected to go to a district competition, as I put my all into Fortunato’s pleading at the end), and scared myself awake by reading “Hop Frog” right before bed. My friends and I also spent a Poe-themed day in Baltimore two years ago. We visited his home as well as his grave site. We also had a drink at The Horse You Came In On Saloon, where Poe was last seen before his death.

poe's grave
Poe’s grave, located in Baltimore, Maryland.

I can’t wait to be a part of “Quoth the Raven,” and can’t wait to read all of the stories included in the anthology. The collection will be released October 7, 2018 — the 169th anniversary of Poe’s death. I’ll share more details as they become available on my Facebook page and my Twitter account.

the raven
During our visit to Poe’s house, one of my friends bought a raven puppet in the gift shop. The puppet made the selfie rounds all evening.

My Favorite Books of 2017

It’s been a year. Some parts were good, others not so good. But the year has come and gone, and I am looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings.

I am an avid reader, but noticed the voraciousness ebbed a little as I worked on Please Give, and readied both that and The Crow’s Gift for publication. Still, I read; and close to 30 books this year. I liked most of what I read, and wanted to highlight my favorites that I read this year (even if they weren’t written this year). Here are my favorite books of 2017, in alphabetical order.

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman — I had never heard of this book until I saw the preview for the movie earlier this summer. Once I realized the movie was an adaptation, I got a copy from the library and sped through it in less than a week. It tells the story of Elio, a young man who falls in lust (and perhaps love) with his father’s research assistant over the course of the summer. The book is told from Elio’s perspective, and his scattered thinking — scattered by the sudden onslaught of lust and love at once — is perfectly captured in Aciman’s prose. I recommend both the book and the film.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay — Roxane Gay released two books this year, Difficult Women and Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. I loved Hunger, but was struck by Gay’s beautiful short stories in Difficult Women. Months later, I still hear passages and see scenes in my head. My favorite stories were “Water, All Its Weight” and “La Negra Blanca.”

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — Thomas’ story of Starr, a teenage girl who witnesses her friend being killed by a cop, is a haunting, timely story. It does a deft job of exploring both the personal toll on Starr and the far-reaching ramifications on her family, her friends, her school, and her neighborhood. I highly recommend it.

Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977 – 2002) by David Sedaris — this is as-advertised: a collection of Sedaris’ diary entries from 1977 up until 2002. Other than the introduction, they’re presented as-is. I really liked this, as the reader is able to fill in context of current events of the time, where Sedaris was in his career, and other items not necessarily told in each entry. I also read this book during a stressful time in my personal life, and found the picaresque mundane of daily diary entries very comforting to read. Make no mistake, though — Sedaris’ wit and talent as a writer are still present in each entry.

Honorable mention: “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian — like seemingly most everyone in the second week of December, I read and enjoyed “Cat Person.” It was a good story — it didn’t bowl me over or beg for a reread, but it was a good story with some great passages. I give it an honorable mention because I was so struck by how it took off online, especially on Twitter. It speaks to Roupenian’s talent that so many people thought it was an essay or a true, personal story. I recommend giving it a read (the full story is available in the linked title) if you haven’t read it already.

What were some of your favorite books of 2017? Let me know in the comments!

Happy New Year, everyone.