Posts Tagged ‘1990s’

2022 Award Eligibility

November 25, 2022 Leave a comment
2022 Award Eligibility is in black against a blue background. Four digital cover images surround it. One says Decoded with a Black woman in a gold gown in front of a purple background. One says Solarpunk Magazine Lunarpunk Special over an image of a river in a spaceship. One says Vol 3 is Here! with a horse, wolf, and a cat in fashionable clothes eating vegetables. One shows a dragon leaning down toward a little girl who touches its nose. Wyrms is in gold above the dragon's head.

I have four pieces eligible for awards during the 2022 award season in three categories.

All of these were first published during 2022.

For the paid stories, I am able to provide author copies for award consideration purposes only. Please email me at [at] to request one.

Short Stories

The University of Late-Night Moans” in Decoded Pride: A science fiction, fantasy, and horror story-a-day anthology for Pride month
June 9, 2022, issue 3, $14.99 digital
fantasy romance (sapphic / wlw)
It’s 1998, and Leonora’s friend Virginia is helping her investigate the moans coming from the cemetery across the train tracks from her dorm.

Sister Prudence on the Beach” in Solarpunk Magazine
Issue #6, Lunarpunk Special, Nov/Dec 2022, $6 digital
hopepunk (speculative scifi)
Sister Prudence settles down for her full moon meditation on the beach. But a young one passing by interrupts not just her meditation but perhaps her retirement as well.


Bostonians Aren’t Friends With Our Neighbors” in Wyrms: An Anthology of Dragon Drabbles
July 1, 2022, $3 digital, $6 print
The first line is “ said the box on the triple-decker’s porch next door.”

Creative Nonfiction

These Boots Were Made for Who?” in Just Femme & Dandy
July 4, 2022, issue 3, free
digital magazine version (page 105) or html/accessible version
literary fashion magazine through a queer lens
I explore how my favorite pair of thrifted boots helped me develop my queer, bisexual fashion sense and sustained me throughout the pandemic.

Book Review: Paper Is White by Hilary Zaid

September 29, 2022 Leave a comment
Image of a digital book cover. The words "Paper Is White" are imposed over a picture of a pile of papers.

Oral historian Ellen and her girlfriend decide to get married in 1990s San Francisco. As they beat an early path to marriage equality, a Holocaust survivor draws Ellen into a secret. How much do you need to share to be true to the one you love? 

This is a rich exploration of two things simultaneously. What it meant to be in a same-sex relationship in the 1990s before marriage equality. And what it means to be Jewish in the shadow of the Holocaust.

There is a sad beauty in how Ellen and Francine find a way to experience the joy of being brides even in the face of rejection and homophobia from many sides. The fact that their wedding can’t be legally recognized. How that is most people’s first reaction. Their parents struggle with accepting and loving them as they are. There’s a real ache to how their parents come down on, essentially, well a lesbian daughter is better than no daughter at all. As a child of the 90s, I recall how that was often viewed as the pinnacle of acceptance from a parent. How sad that was. How well-represented here. But there are still scenes of delightfully bride moments, like Ellen struggling to get the shoes she wants. Or the rabbi who agrees to marry them getting serious about how marriage is about sticking through the hard things too.

I am not Jewish myself, but I did attend a historically Jewish university, and one of my closest friends is Jewish. (She had an interfaith same-sex wedding). So I do have some familiarity with Judaism, while still acknowledging my position as an outsider. From my perspective, this book does a great job depicting the struggle to be Jewish in a way that works for you while under the shadow of the Holocaust. The weight of responsibility many Jewish people feel to carry Judaism forward while also being true to themself.

Something that shows how this can be a struggle is how Ellen and Francine attend a meeting with well-meaning Reform rabbis. They say they want to help same-sex couples have marriages. But Ellen and Francine notice how they keep talking about commitment and not marriages or weddings. They then meet with a different rabbi at the suggestion of a friend. They’re surprised to discover he is part Chinese. And he is more than happy to give them a Jewish wedding. He is non-traditionally Jewish but still Jewish. This is an aha moment for Ellen. Over the course of the book, she comes to talk more about how the Judaism she’s living isn’t what her ancestors would have imagined, but it is still Judaism.

Ellen’s grandmother was someone she had a special relationship with. At the start of the book, her grandmother has been dead for years. Her grandmother was not a Holocaust survivor, as she was an American Jewish person. But Ellen in some way seeks to bond with her grandmother through her work interviewing Holocaust survivors. I won’t spoil the surprise in the book. But I will say that how Ellen comes to terms with her relationship with her grandmother is eloquently handled.

Overall, this is a book that manages a delicate balance. It’s realistic about what it was to be a Jewish lesbian in the 1990s while also depicting both queer and Jewish joy. I highly recommend it.

If you found this review helpful, please consider tipping me on ko-fi, checking out my digital items available in my ko-fi shop, buying one of my publications, or using one of my referral/coupon codesThank you for your support!

5 out of 5 stars

Length: 318 pages – average but on the longer side

Source: Library

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Publication Announcement: Short Story “The University of Late-Night Moans”

Digital cover of an anthology. A Black person in a gold dress with an ethereal crown stands in front of a pink and purple background.
Cover art by Craig Hale.

I am thrilled to announce that I have a short story coming up in issue 3 of Decoded Pride: A science fiction, fantasy, and horror story-a-day anthology for Pride month!

This is a really cool project. The editors worked hard to select and curate a collection of flash fiction, short stories, longer fiction, and comics by queer and trans authors with queer and trans themes to celebrate Pride month. Have you been frustrated with how corporate Pride has become? Are you a more introverted queer person? Then this is the ideal way to celebrate Pride this year!

The way it works is you pay the $14.99 subscription fee, and then you have access to the website where all the creative works drop each day. In the late summer or early fall, you’ll be sent a color PDF of all the stories plus interviews with all 30 authors (yes, including me!) You can subscribe at any point throughout the month and get retroactive access to the previous stories. After the month is over, you can still purchase the PDF. As a thank you for being one of my supporters, now through June 30th you can get $2 off your purchase with the discount code FrienzNFam at check-out.

My short story will published on Thursday, June 9th. It’s a sapphic fantasy romance. That means expect something supernatural. Expect women loving women. And I promise you a happy ever after. Also, expect some 90s nostalgia.

Here’s the blurb:

It’s 1998, and Leonora’s friend Virginia is helping her investigate the moans coming from the cemetery across the train tracks from her dorm.

Please be sure to check out my Publications Page for my other work.

Book Review: Loud is How I Love You by Mercy Brown (Series, #1)

December 16, 2016 2 comments

Book Review: Loud is How I Love You by Mercy Brown (Series, #1)Summary:
Twenty-one-year-old front girl Emmylou knows that getting her band noticed in the ‘90s indie rock scene will be no easy task. She definitely knows better than to break the number one rule of the band: Don’t sleep with your bandmates! But after she ends up having the best sex of her life with her guitarist, Travis, she finds following that rule is a lot harder than it sounds.

When the band gets the gig of their dreams, making it big seems just within reach. But Emmy’s inability to keep her hands off Travis threatens everything they’ve worked for. Can Emmy find a way to break the rules and not blow the chance of a lifetime?

It took me a moment to get past the fact that 90s now count as historic fiction. *pours one out for the 90s* But then again Fresh Off the Boat is set entirely in the 90s, much like That  70s Show, so it appears the time has come. I was not a “new adult” (refers to those post high school but pre having your shit together) in the 90s (I was solidly a kid coveting a tamagotchi) but I vaguely knew about all the fads the older kids were into like….flannel and grunge. This book oozes that, and the characters get to have the problems that arise from not having a cell phone or YouTube to promo your band. That was fun.

For those who don’t know, New Adult means to expect more sex. And oh man. The sex scenes in this book. There are a lot of them. They are explicit. I like that sort of thing, and even though I rolled my eyes occasionally at some of their more interesting bedroom pursuits (like “tattooing” with permanent marker), I still thought they were hot, well-written, within character, and, most importantly, made sense within the plot.

What I think could make people love or hate this book is the main character, Emmy. She narrates it in the first person and she is, well, she’s a 21-year-old. She makes problems where there shouldn’t be any problems. She gets all up in her head. She thinks in black and white. She is, basically, young and acts and talks like a young person. Yeah, sometimes it’s infuriating to see her fucking her own life up, but that’s realistic, especially for a character who’s supposed to be a passionate artistic type in a band. I was able to appreciate her for who she is and have faith that she’d grow and get past her issues, but I do think that not everyone would be able to see past that and enjoy it in the same way.

The series will follow other people involved in the indie rock scene, and so we’ve already met them in this book as secondary characters. I’m excited to see what hot shenanigans they get up to and hear a new voice’s take on everything going on for the various bands.

Recommended to those who want to take a visit to the 90s through the eyes of a passionate new adult.

If you found this review helpful, please consider tipping me on ko-fi, checking out my digital items available in my ko-fi shop, buying one of my publications, or using one of my referral/coupon codesThank you for your support!

4 out of 5 stars

Length: 227 pages – average but on the shorter side

Source: Library

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Book Review: Bellwether by Connie Willis

Book Review: Bellwether by Connie WillisSummary:
Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennet O’Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep.

This was given to me eons ago because of how much I love To Say Nothing of the Dog (review) by Connie Willis. This book has a similar sense of humor that definitely kept me entertained but the plot and backstory that ties it all together didn’t hit quite the same loved it nerve with me.

I loved seeing a book set in the mountain range area of the country (Colorado to be precise). I feel like this doesn’t happen often enough in books. I also found there was a real nostalgia quality to the book because it was first published in 1996 and set in its own time-period, so the whole thing just screamed 90s nostalgia to me. This played in well to Sandra’s fad studies. It gave the book a good reason to notice and talk about the fads, and this held up well over time. What originally was a “oh look at this silly thing people are doing right now” became “hey remember when West Coast coffee was first a thing?” I also really appreciated that a social science was featured at the core of a scifi book. Not just that but a scientist of a science deemed more important and sciencey (chaos theory) ends up working with her and respecting her research and its methods. Super cool.

While I thought the research study was cool, I wasn’t as huge of a fan of the competition to receive the grant of a lifetime plot. I appreciated Sandra working to save her job, but the big grant loomed overhead from the very beginning like a deus ex machina. Sandra’s disdain for her coworkers wanting to ban smoking from the building as a fad really didn’t translate well over time. This wasn’t a fad; it was a public health policy, and it rubbed me wrong every time Sandra implied it was like the whole are eggs good or bad for you debate. Second-hand smoke is just bad for you, and unlike a coworker eating an egg, it can actually impact your health if you’re around it. I’m sure it was funnier in the 90s but it didn’t work so well now, and it honestly made me dislike Sandra a bit.

Overall, scifi fans looking for a humorous plot with a female lead, an unusual focus on the social sciences with a dash of 1990s nostalgia will enjoy this book.

If you found this review helpful, please consider tipping me on ko-fi, checking out my digital items available in my ko-fi shop, buying one of my publications, or using one of my referral/coupon codesThank you for your support!

4 out of 5 stars

Length: 248 pages – average but on the shorter side

Source: Gift

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Counts For:
Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge

Book Review: From This Moment On by Shania Twain

November 14, 2011 8 comments

Up close image of Shania Twain.Summary:
Shania Twain shot to fame on the country music charts in 1995 with her second album The Woman in Me.  Her music was part of the new generation of 90s country, featuring such artists as Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, etc…, that would blend country and pop for a new sound.  In her memoir Shani recounts her life from her childhood in the northern part of Ontario, Canada to her sudden fame to the heartbreaking realization that her husband was cheating on her with her best friend to her recovery and new life.

While other girls of the 90s were obsessed with The Spice Girls and Britney Spears, I fan girled out over Shania Twain.  My family was a country music household to begin with, so getting my parents to be cool with me listening to pop was always a creative act.  (I remember I got away with listening to Britney Spears by getting my mother to listen to Hit Me Baby One More Time and like it and then revealed that it was Britney Spears. I’ve always been a wily lady.)  In any case, I needed to employ none of this trickery to listen to Shania.  As country music she had the stamp of approval, plus my big brother had bought her cd.  I was 8 years old when The Woman in Me came out, and I remember being completely blown away by “Any Man of Mine.”  (Go watch the video.  I can wait.)  I was blown out of the water.  Whereas most country I’d heard prior was all about love and heartbreak and cheating husbands, here was a woman saying loud and proud that she deserves to be treated right, dammit!  Let’s just say it really appealed to the feminist inside me.  When I found out she was from “the bush” of Canada and a poor family closely tied to Native culture, well, I was insanely curious, but Shania has always kept her private life private, so I was left to wonder.  Needless to say, when I heard at the beginning of this year that Shania would be publishing a memoir, I pre-ordered it.  I had to know more about this woman whose music so spoke to lonely little rural girl of the 90s.

Shania’s memoir is very different from any others I have read.  She does not involve many storytelling tropes.  She only quotes people twice in the entire book.  She reflects a lot, similar to, perhaps, if you’ve ever had the chance to listen to an older relative think out loud about her life.  It does not read like a story, but it does feel as if you were granted a couple hours of private access to one of the more private country stars.

The strongest part of the book is without a doubt when she is reflecting on her family and upbringing in Canada.  It becomes abundantly clear that perhaps Shania’s reclusiveness has more to do with the fact that while she loved music she had no dreams of being a star.  Her mother decided her daughter would be a star and pushed her into it.

Imagine what a burden that is for a young girl. I just wanted music, not necessarily a music career. But because I felt obligated by her dedication to me her singer, I never had the heart to consider anything else in life, even though I’d dreamed of maybe becoming a veterinarian. I also developed a passion for design and architecture that continues to this day. In fact, that’s probably what I would have pursued had my mother not been so forceful about music. (location 1634)

I find it fascinating how often famous people were pushed into that career path as a child.  What makes parents do this?  I remember when I was a kid I wanted to “be a star,” and my father sat me down and told me to think really hard about it, because I’d lose all privacy and normalcy.  I gave up on the idea and decided to be a reclusive writer instead.  So what makes other parents push their kids into it?

Well, it’s obvious Shania’s mother had an incredibly rough life.  Her family was below the poverty line with young mouths to feed.  Her mother’s relationship was abusive, and she struggled with depression.

The perpetual undertow of financial instability took its tool in other ways, as it usually does, compromising my parents’ love for each other at times and no doubt feeding my mother’s recurrent bouts of depression. (location 189)

Ah.  I can only guess that Shania’s mother saw a chance for financial stability for her daughter’s future in her talent, pinpointing most of her life’s troubles on a lack of money.  Funny how Shania then succeeded and went on to have similar problems simply on the opposite end of the financial spectrum.

The section of the book dealing with fame, recording, making music videos, etc… is frankly disappointing.  Shania barely brushes the surface of what actually went on behind the scenes, instead focusing in on how drained and dissatisfied her newfound fame made her feel.  Passages largely read like this:

I was starting to feel as if I’d lost my chops at life’s fundamentals—and I’d been someone who could survive on my own in a cabin in the woods with no running water or electricity in subzero temperatures and snow up to my butt. Now, with a skilled full-time staff at home to handle every domestic and personal chore for me, I felt…useless and inept. (location 4905)

An interesting reflection, no doubt, but I really wanted to know what happened during the, at the time controversial, “The Woman in Me” video shoot in Egypt, for example.  Details like this combined with the reflections on the dissatisfaction of fame would have made for a more powerful book, in my opinion.

The last section of the book addresses Shania’s time off from music, the birth of her son Eja, and the dissolution of her marriage to music producer Mutt Lange.  This part is hard to read, because it is so abundantly clear that those around her have used and abused Shania (her husband cheated on her with her best friend in Switzerland).  This is a woman for whom for her whole life family and being in touch with nature have mattered to her far more than anything else, and yet these things seem to be denied her.  It saddens me that the woman who sang such strong music has in fact spent most of her life trying to make other people happy.  This memoir was written as a way to deal with the end of her marriage, and I hope that through it Shania has found some peace and starts listening to her heart about what she really values and needs.  It is so evident in the last third of the book that she is trying to buy happiness with more and more property and perfectly built homes.  If only there was some way for the peace and quiet loving singer/songwriters of the world to get their music to others without suffering from the entrapment of fame.  Maybe the internet will help with that.

Overall, I found this to be a moving memoir, if a bit flawed.  It meanders sometimes and skips over some things that fans would definitely want to know about, but it is an interesting insight into the mind and life of  a famous country singer and gives an interesting look at the negative effects of fame, even if they aren’t as huge as drug overdoses.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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