Today I am so pleased to welcome Vanessa North to Joyfully Jay. Vanessa has come to talk to us about her latest release, the How We Began Anthology. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


How We Began is a collection of LGBTQ+ young and new adult novellas and short stories by Alexis Hall, Delphine Dryden, Vanessa North, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert, and Geonn Cannon. All proceeds are to support The Trevor Project’s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth. 

I’m writing this post having just finished reading the anthology as a whole unit. As an author participating in a project like this, one of the most exciting things is reading the stories yours will stand alongside and seeing how the parts create the whole.

In addition to feeling humbled by the company I’m asked to keep here, (True story: Delphine Dryden was one of my early erom writing heroes and now we’re in an anthology together. Somebody pinch me!) I’m deeply, deeply honored to have been a part of this collection because it reaches out not just to one group, but to kids across the spectrum of human sexuality.

When I began writing A Song for Sweater-boy, I wanted to write a story for kids who faced the same challenges I did as a teenager. Neuro-divergent kids. Bisexual kids. Kids for whom gender expression is not as straightforward as “shave this, wear that.” And as I wrote, I kept hoping that each bit I wove into my story was okay, that I wasn’t “trying too hard.”

And then I read these other stories. We have our young gay men! Lesbians! Trans teens! Without talking about it amongst ourselves, we managed to create an anthology that covers a huge swath of the rainbow.

There is no such thing as trying too hard—there’s a whole lot of not trying hard enough in this world. Because there are bisexual, neuro-divergent, gender-nonconforming kids. And if they see parts of themselves in each of those characters, they might feel seen—and don’t they deserve to be seen?

Don’t they all deserve to be seen?

I’m proud to be a part of this anthology, proud to stand beside these other authors and say, hey kids, we see you, and we’re living proof that kids like you get to live their dreams too, no matter which letter or combination of letters in the QUILTBAG you call your own.


How We BeganHow does love begin?

A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance.

In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project’s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.


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