New Releases in Manga Featuring Queer Women: an Ongoing Yuri Series by Jaylee James

It’s no secret to anyone who reads this site that while I aim to have recommendations for all readers of LGBTQIAP+ lit, I, like I’d venture to guess all readers, only a few areas I’d consider to be my expertise. Thankfully, every now and again, someone steps up to fill in the gaps and share their knowledge on an area that’s essentially a black hole for me, and today I’m grateful to have Jaylee James doing just that on Yuri! (And yes, as the title indicates, this will not be er only post on the subject!) 

*****

Yuri is anime, manga, and other Japanese media involving a romantic or sexual relationship between two women. It’s the female version of yaoi, which depicts relationships between men.

In the past year, there has been an influx of yuri manga being translated into English. Whereas before, yuri recommendation lists included basically the same four series, or stretched the idea of yuri to include series like Lucky Star and K-On that focus on the relationships between female friends, or was included in the list because of heavy subtext but no actual canonical romantic relationship between the characters (such as Madoka).

But recently, there is a much wider variety of stories to choose from, and the series are ongoing, with books coming out every couple of months. We’re currently being spoiled with yuri manga, and it’s amazing.

Here are five ongoing manga series that center the experiences of queer women (and one bonus standalone)!

Bloom Into You by Nakatani Nio

First two volumes available in English from Seven Seas, with volume three coming out September 2017.

Yuu is a first-year student who is roped into volunteering for the student council. While there, she meets Nanami, an older student who possesses a lot of traits Yuu admires, especially the ability to turn down potential suitors with ease. She tells Yuu that “no one’s love confession has ever made her heart-pound.” Yuu sees a kindred spirit in Nanami, since Yuu has never experienced romantic feelings for someone, and is worried she never will, though she desperately wants to.

However, as soon as Yuu confesses this, Nanami shares her own confession – Yuu is the only person she’s ever met who does give her romantic feelings.

The two work to navigate their friendship and Nanami’s one-sided romantic feelings. The story is told with beautiful art, in an almost cinematic style. The mood of the story is slow, languid, and gives you a chance to feel deeply what the characters are going through amid lovely, detailed background settings.

Content warning: A character “steal kisses” against the others’ wishes, and later apologizes and they talk about it. Yuu’s feelings about her lack of romantic feelings tend to dip negatively, with insecurity, worry, and a desire to change, though the tone of the story was not (to me, an alloromantic person) forcing a judgment call on her.

Note: Since this is manga, identity labels are never used (and it’s important to remember not all cultures share Western identity labels) but a number of things Yuu says in the series sound very similar to feelings expressed by my aromantic friends, and aro-spec readers might relate to this story.

Kiss and White Lily for my Dearest Girl by Canno

First two volumes available in English from Yen Press, with volume three coming out August 2017.

This series is about a group of classmates at an all-girl’s school who all have feelings for each other. There are many different pairings with a wide variety of dynamics, and no one questions it. (This series reminds me of Strawberry Panic, in that way – a sort of utopia where all the girls are into other girls.)

Because of the number of characters and couples, it reads more like a series of interconnected short stories. Each couple has their own relationship troubles and dynamic. There’s a pair of rivals who develop romantic feelings for each other, a track star and the girl she works hard for, and an older student about to graduate high school and the two younger students who love her. There are single-page one shots between the chapters focusing on background characters and their own attractions and relationships.

The scope of this series means there will be something for everyone, though it can be difficult to tell the characters apart or remember them all, since they all wear the same uniform, have similar faces, and only their hair distinguishes the characters from one another.

Content warning: The first volume depicts a “stolen kiss” without the other girl’s consent, and many of the relationships have elements of manipulation or emotionally dependent dynamics.

Citrus by Saburouta

Five volumes available in English from Seven Seas, with the next one available August 2017.

Citrus is the story of two girls whose parents just married each other, and they are suddenly stepsisters. The bulk of this series is tropey porn, putting the girls into situations that strain the reader’s ability to suspend belief (Mom asking two teenage girls who met last week to share a bath because they’re “sisters” now, for instance).

But amidst the fanservice and overdone sexual scenes is a story about Mei, a closed-off girl in a lot of pain, and her new step-sister Yuzu, the only person who has made an effort to understand her. This series is nonstop drama, tropes, stereotypes, and steamy scenes.

Content warning: Constant consent issues, with Mei pushing Yuzu’s boundaries and taking out her painful feelings on Yuzu by forcing sexual situations on her – kissing, groping, and removing clothing.

After Hours by Yuhta Nishio

First volume available from Viz Media. Since the second volume was just released in Japan July 2017, details about when it will be released in English are still to come.

Unlike the rest of the manga on this list, After Hours is not about high school students. It’s such a refreshing change to read yuri about adult women (in this case, one is in her twenties, the other her thirties). A lot of common manga tropes are left out of this story – shame about sex, excessive bashfulness, internalized homophobia (“but we’re both girls!!”). There’s not even any fan service, and the kissing is vocally consented to.

While the two characters have a sexual relationship, the story focuses on everything else going on in their lives. Emi just got out of college but has no idea what she’s doing in life or what she wants. Kei is finding a way to pursue her passions as hard as she can, and inviting Emi to join in.

The art is cinematic and the story is well-done, with funny moments and characters you can get behind. This is a unique addition to the current yuri offerings in English, and it deserves a lot more attention than I’ve seen it given.

Content warning: Depictions of alcohol and drunkenness in club scenes, as well as a friendship that could be read as emotionally abusive.

Kase-San Series by Hiromi Takashima

First two volumes available in English from Seven Seas, beginning with “Kase-San and Morning Glories,” with volume three coming out September 2017.

In one word, the Kase-San series is adorable. It follows the relationship between Yamada, a sweet, clumsy girl in the gardening club, and Kase, a popular track star who Yamada describes repeatedly as “much cooler than any boy.” They meet when Yamada catches Kase watering the flowers she’s planted, and from then on, Yamada is head-over-heels for the sports star.

The tagline for the second volume is “We’re girlfriends… now what?” and it’s the perfect descriptor for the series, as the two work out the details of how they fit together when they’re such different people. Riddled with lighthearted humor, honest feelings, and sweet moments between the girls, the series is nonstop fluff. Takashima allows her characters to be shy and innocent in their affections while also acknowledging they’re sexually attracted to each other.

Overall, Kase-San is tooth-rotting fluff that will have you full of warm fuzzies, giggling the whole way through the series.

Content warning: None 😊

BONUS: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata

A short standalone volume available in English from Seven Seas, released June 2017.

While not strictly yuri, My Lesbian Experience is a graphic memoir about the author’s mental health struggles and recovery, her discovery and acceptance that she was a lesbian, and her experience hiring a female escort for her first sexual experience.

This is a raw, honest look at the author’s personal life. Nagata is open about her binge eating, wanting to die, and being so depressed she couldn’t leave her bed. It’s also a great portrayal of recovery – finding the few things in life you enjoy and letting them save you from drowning. For the author, those things were manga… and seeing a female sex worker.

My Lesbian Experience is very real, and also really funny. The author lets us laugh with her at how awkward she was, how frustrated life made her, and eventually, how healthy and stable she got to be.

Content warning: eating disorders, trichotillomania, self-harm, suicidal ideation, depression, and possibly also dissociation and emotional abuse by parents. Also touches on outdated psychological theories about the causes of homosexuality.

*****

Jaylee James is a demi-bisexual, bigender writer and editor from Kansas City with purple hair. Er main projects are Spectrum Lit, which publishes LGBTQ+ flash fiction, and Polycule, a true story blog about er polyamorous dating adventures. When not writing, e spends far too much time on twitter (@thewritingj), cuddling er dogs, and dating the entire metro area. More of er work can be found at JayleeJames.com.

 

New Releases: August 2017

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (8th)

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When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

Buy it: Amazon B&N IndieBound

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell (15th)

34346381New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

Buy it:  Penguin | Amazon | BNkobo | iBooks | Goodreads | Google Play

Team Phison by Chace Verity (15th)

For 55-year-old Phil Hutton, finding a new boyfriend is tough, especially since he’s still hurting from his ex leaving him for a younger man. Online dating has been a soul-crushing experience for the restaurant owner. Too many meat-haters interested in microbreweries or something called geocaching. His matches in the multiplayer for his favorite video game have been equally sucky too.

One night, he encounters a newbie who is so helpless, Phil can’t help showing him the ropes. It doesn’t take long for Phil to become interested in his enthusiastic teammate. 28-year-old Tyson Falls from Georgia loves working as a server in a rinky pizza joint and sees the best in everything. As Phil’s online dating matches get worse and his in-game matches with Tyson get better, he finds himself wanting to pursue the easygoing chatterbox with a thick, sexy drawl.

But Phil can’t get past the fear that Tyson couldn’t possibly want a fossil like him. If his brain doesn’t stop being so damn insecure, it might be game over for his heart.

Buy it: Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo | Nook

The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember (22nd)

Tashi is a spy and killer—an elite warrior known as an inhabitor—taught from a young age to use their bond with the tiger Katala. When an enemy force captures the city, Tashi has no option but to escape. Their safety doesn’t last long, however. Soon the conquering army arrives at the secluded monastery where Tashi is hiding, needing a place to treat their wounded. It’s not long before their leader, Xian, takes an interest in Tashi.

Xian is cold, ambitious, and even cruel—at least at first glance. But Tashi is skilled at watching and reading people, and they find a softer side to the young commander—one that intrigues them.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens (29th)

As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Buy it : Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

Fave Five: Queer Boarding School YAs

 Without Annette by Jane B. Mason

Openly Straight and Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsburg

The Scholars and Sorcery series by Eleanor Beresford

As I Descended by Robin Talley

Girlhood by Cat Clarke

Bonus: Complementary and Acute by Ella Lyons is another one, separated out simply because it’s a novella under 50 pages

Double bonus: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert isn’t set at boarding school, but does flash back to the bisexual MC’s relationship with her roommate there

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Fave Five: LGBTQ Road Trip YAs

Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Looking For Group by Rory Harrison

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

Bonus: The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour, which features a non-narrating major bisexual character, and the upcoming (2018) And She Was by Jessica Verdi, which features a non-narrating major transgender character (though her POV is present via e-mail throughout)

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Excerpt Reveal: Say Yes by JR Gray

Today on the site we have a sexy teaser from JR Gray’s newest m/m BDSM release, Say Yes, which just released on July 24th! Check it out:

James failed.
He tried to be what they wanted.
He tried to deny it.
He tried to be a good Catholic boy…but it’s become too much.
He craves pain, submission.
He’s denied himself far too long, and it’s eating him alive.

Charles thrives off the exchange of power. He knows the world revolves around control. It’s given and taken like currency, in business and in pleasure. He won’t get attached, though, or so he tells himself, until James turns his world upside down. He’s defiant and snarky, but Charles can taste the submission on him.

Charles holds the key to his salvation but James has to Say Yes.

Buy it: Publisher | Amazon

“It’s my job to get you out of your suit, not for you to get me out of mine.” His dark green eyes shone in the low light behind rectangular glasses. He had such a thing for glasses. Charles knew he was being toyed with. It was an unusual sensation for him as he usually did the toying.

“It’s not going to be any work at all for you to get me out of my suit. I think yours will be the challenge.” He undid his belt, and James’ eyes went to his groin. He’d known James was into men. He had a sense for these things.

“You’re not going to get me out of mine.” So cocky. It would be fun to break him of it.

“We seem to be at an impasse.” Charles pulled his belt from his loops and halved it in his hand. He could already see the marks on James’ pale skin.

“It appears so.” He surprised Charles and took the belt from his hands as he stepped past. “This belt looks so worn. Let me find you a stiffer model.” James flashed another smile, showing large canines and a mouth full of gleaming white teeth before he exited the room.

Charles gripped himself. There was only one thing he loved more than submission: having to work for it.

***

Scarlett rolled her eyes. “What has you so tense?”

If he didn’t get out of his funk he was going to have to call a professional. “You don’t want to know.”

She raised one of her dark brows into a perfect arch. “A female has you this way?”

“No.” He didn’t elaborate.

“Mister Walton, you have a Mister Bennet here to see you. He doesn’t have an appointment, but he says he has a tie for you?”

Charles groaned. “Everything with her is a question,” he said to Scarlett before he remembered what she’d been calling about. He perched forward to press the intercom. “Send him in.” He looked at Scarlett again. “Out.”

She pulled back, giving him a look. “Interesting.” She looked James over as she slipped past him to leave the office.

James was in light gray slacks. He strolled into the office like he owned the place. Another thing only wealth could instill. Breeding. He was comfortable here, not at all intimidated. He was an enigma.

“Your tie, as promised, Sir.” James laid a box on his desk with a knowing smirk.

Charles shifted in his seat, suddenly wishing he wasn’t so disheveled from his lunch break. “I was starting to wonder.” He didn’t move to take the box. “What do I owe you?”

James shook his head. “I wouldn’t hear of it.” He turned to go.

“Leaving so soon?”

“I have to get back to the lower west side. I have a class.” He wore a wolfish grin.

So cocky for someone so young. He was dressed subtly today, slacks and a button down but no tie. It was a shame.

“Class?” Charles leaned back and crossed an ankle over his knee.

“At NYU.”

“You’re a professor?” He knew they didn’t get paid much, but still to sell suits on the side? It didn’t make much sense. Another layer he needed to pull back to figure him out.

“Nope, I’m a student there.”

Charles looked at him again. Was he really that young? “You can’t be.”

“Do I not look smart enough?” James looked out his window. The office was the penthouse with quite a view of the park and city.

“You don’t look young enough.”

“I’m nineteen.”

Charles kept himself still with some effort. “I would have guessed twenty-seven at the youngest. Tell me what a college student at NYU is doing selling suits.”

“You don’t think my job is good enough?” “I never said that.”

“Maybe I’m a design student there.” Charles laughed. “I don’t think so.”

He shrugged, and Charles knew getting anything out of this one was going to be difficult.

“But you don’t know, do you?” James turned abruptly and headed for the door. “Have a good afternoon, Mr. Walton.”

He got to his feet. “I didn’t properly thank you for the tie.”

James looked over his shoulder, letting his gaze drift down Charles’ form. “I think you will. I’m just not going to make it easy for you.”

In the span of minutes, James had seemed to do what no one else ever could to Charles: figured him out.

*****

When not staying up all night writing, J.R. Gray can be found at the gym where it’s half assumed he is a permanent resident to fulfill his self-inflicted masochism. A dominant and a pilot, Gray finds it hard to be in the passenger seat of any car. He frequently interrupts real life, including normal sleep patterns and conversations, to jot down notes or plot bunnies. Commas are the bane of his existence even though it’s been fully acknowledged they are necessary, they continue to baffle and bewilder. If Gray wasn’t writing…well, that’s not possible. The buildup of untold stories would haunt Gray into an early grave, insanity or both. The idea of haunting has always appealed to him. J.R. Gray is genderqueer and prefers he/him pronouns.

Connect with J.R. Gray: Website | Twitter – Personal | Twitter – Books | Facebook | Facebook Group | Tumblr | Mailing List | Amazon Author Page

Emi Louise Croucher Talks The Butterfly on Fire, a Novel of Being Transgender Before Transitioning

Here at LGBTQReads, we aim to provide a spot where authors of books that rarely get promo space can discuss their books, whether already published or upcoming. The Butterfly on Fire by E.L. Croucher is a case of the former, having been self-published on May 2, 2017, and to talk about it, she’s written a guest post in the form of a self-interview.

Before we get to that, here’s some more on the book:

The Butterfly on Fire is the story of three different lives, each linked together by a tragic, unchanging truth.

Eric is growing up and realising how different he is to those around him. How much longer can he hide from himself?

Beam is trying to balance work and romance like everyone else living in London. When embarking on such a journey, anything could happen.

Fubuki is Queen of a magnificent world known as Macha Land, but finds herself struggling to maintain the peace after an innocent man mysteriously dies at one of her Songshows. Will her utopia last with death at her doorstep?

Buy it: Amazon US * Amazon UK

And now, the interview!

Tell us a little bit about the book to start with.

 I describe it as a fantasy / contemporary fiction novel, because there is a clearly defined fantasy narrative, whilst the others are a modern-day, fiction narrative. It follows three lives through certain challenges, like most novels, but it all comes together in a twist that (hopefully) the reader won’t expect.

Now tell us a bit about yourself.

 I’m a 25 year old woman working in London. I grew up in here, but also worked and studied in Japan for a while. I’m actually a Japanese translator by day, indie novelist by night. I started writing The Butterfly on Fire because I had something important to say, and I wanted to write about it. I am a part of the LGBT community, and so the main theme of the novel is about that, basically. At first I never even imagined I would finish a complete draft, but step by step I kept at it, and here I am.

So, is the book basically just about you?

Yes and no. Certain scenes and parts of the storyline are based on what has happened in my life. Even some characters are based on real people. But it is no way just an auto-biographical novel. Thanks also to my editor, it’s developed into its very own little world. Literally in the fantasy chapters. Each character has been developed to how I wanted them, so it’s not as simple as it being ‘about me’.

What made you think of the three narrative based structure?

Without giving too much away, it kind of developed itself. I had three ‘voices’ that I wanted to represent. Each one of those affiliates to a part of a person. One being the body, one about the mind and the fantasy chapters are the soul. It all just grew from there, really

Who is your favourite character within the novel?

Really? Am I allowed to even choose as the author? Although, I can imagine most authors would choose their protagonist, but for me that would be slightly strange as it’s based on me. So in fact, I would go with the love interest of the fantasy chapters. Prince Hikaru. Hikaru means light in Japanese, so he’s a real stereotypical, male ‘hero’ character. What I’ve also tried to do though, is modernise the out-dated hero / heroine narrative, and play with what it means to be a ‘hero’ when your lover is a powerful, magical Queen.

Would you have done anything differently, now it’s all finished?

I think anyone would. But generally in life I try and live in the moment and not look back on what I could have done. Sure, some chapters are probably more exciting than others. Some characters could have been developed more. All I am confident in is that the novel tells the message that I want to tell extremely clearly. You wouldn’t be able to read it fully and not see what I’m trying to bring to the table. For me, that is the most important thing. I’m happy with that.

What was the most difficult part of creating the novel?

I think finishing the first draft is where most people give up. Once I had a full blown draft with chapters and everything I felt like half the battle was done. Going into editing with E Goulding was such an exciting step, and it made it all so much more real. It began to come alive with each chapter we went through together. It was so worth completing the first draft to get to that stage.

Who do you feel the book is meant for?

It’s an LGBT novel, so the community and all of its lovely people. As an extension to that, I think the parents and siblings of an LGBT person would be able to relate to it as well. To be honest, any person that loves an empowering story and a bit of a tear jerky would love The Butterfly on Fire. That is parallel to a wonderfully different fantasy narrative that really bounces off of the modern fiction element. Anyone that likes LGBT stories and fantasy then, perhaps?

What other influences helped towards writing TBOF?

Japan was a huge one. There are elements of the Japanese culture and language scattered neatly throughout The Butterfly on Fire. Queen Fubuki does some of her spells in Japanese. The main characters of the modern-day, fictional narrative go for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Japan has been a powerful and consistent part of my life, so it would naturally be the same in a novel that I create.

Wiccanism is another one. I have always been a spiritual person, since I was young. I have tried to stay faithful to the lore and add a sense of realism to the fantasy side of things by having real Wiccan terminology and acts.

Lastly, I would be a liar if I said my previous boyfriends and fiancés didn’t play their part as well! Lol!

How is the publishing process going so far?

So far it’s been a whirlwind of excitement! We are getting some fantastic reviews on our Amazon page, as people are starting to naturally finish the book now. It’s early days because its only been two months since self-publishing The Butterfly on Fire, but we are off to a great start! I couldn’t be happier!

Tell us in 10 words why you think people should read this novel?

It will change how you view a certain minority (hopefully).

*****

E L Croucher is a 25 year old YA novel writer. She is currently living in London, England. The Butterfly on Fire was inspired by her LGBT background and love of the Japanese language and culture. She always dreamt of becoming an author and started working on publishable material since taking A level English.

After starting to learn Japanese when she was 16 she entered SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) and attended Waseda in Tokyo, Japan on her year abroad. Eventually, after returning home to Kent, England, she started The Butterfly on Fire.

Cover Reveal: Team Phison by Chace Verity

Today on the site we’ve got a brand-new cover reveal: Team Phison by Chace Verity! And not only are we exclusively revealing the cover, but we’ve got an excerpt, too! First, of course, some info on the book:

For 55-year-old Phil Hutton, finding a new boyfriend is tough, especially since he’s still hurting from his ex leaving him for a younger man. Online dating has been a soul-crushing experience for the restaurant owner. Too many meat-haters interested in microbreweries or something called geocaching. His matches in the multiplayer for his favorite video game have been equally sucky too.

One night, he encounters a newbie who is so helpless, Phil can’t help showing him the ropes. It doesn’t take long for Phil to become interested in his enthusiastic teammate. 28-year-old Tyson Falls from Georgia loves working as a server in a rinky pizza joint and sees the best in everything. As Phil’s online dating matches get worse and his in-game matches with Tyson get better, he finds himself wanting to pursue the easygoing chatterbox with a thick, sexy drawl.

But Phil can’t get past the fear that Tyson could possibly want a fossil like him. If his brain doesn’t being so damn insecure, it might be game over for his heart.

And now, the cover!

But wait, there’s more! Check out this adorable excerpt!

Tyson’s the sort of guy who needs to talk all the time with everyone about everything. It’s a quality I don’t think anyone should have, but his genuine affection tickles my ribcage. He keeps trying to bring our various team members into our discussion, and he pouts when they don’t respond to his question.

Sometime in the middle of a “Defend The Flag Holder” mission, while Tyson takes the scenic route to our base, curiosity consumes me. Probably because I’m two drinks deep and pleasantly buzzed for once instead of annoyed. But it couldn’t possibly hurt to learn more about him.

“Say, Tyson, where’re you from? Georgia?”

He chuckles. “Did my accent give it away? You’re right. Athens. What about you, Phil?”

“Massachusetts.”

The screen flashes green after Tyson plants the flag in our base, causing him to erupt in a high-pitched cheer. The screeching doesn’t bother me though. I’m distracted by the memory of our last conversation. Are his eyes as green as our victory screen?

“Hey, Tyson. Did you ever figure out what color your eyes are?”

“Huh? Oh. No, I didn’t.”

Good grief. He’s pretty hopeless.

“Send me a pic, and I’ll tell you.”

A long and painful pause ensues. My cheeks burn, surely because of the alcohol. I shift in my chair and rub the back of my neck.

“Is there a camera on the system? I don’t see one.”

Oh, God, he looked. He wants to send me a picture. This isn’t the whisky making my head spin. I’m experiencing, uh, what’s that emotion called?

Embarrassment.

He exits the game, pushing me to new levels of uncomfortable. We’re still in a party so we can keep talking to each other.

“Message me your phone number,” Tyson says. “I’ll text it to you.”

My brain says no, but my traitorous fingers send him my number in no time flat. What’s the worst that could happen? He can’t steal my identity with it or anything. I think.

I’m not doing a lot of thinking right now, am I?

I exit the game as well and glance down at my iPhone. Waiting. Waiting.

My phone lights up, alerting me to a new text from an unknown number. Hardly a second passes before I open it.

He has small, beautiful brown eyes.

Tyson’s definitely in his late 20’s. Can’t quite gauge his height since it’s an awkward bathroom selfie, but he’s a bit soft around the edges. Probably has a beer belly. Sun-kissed skin. Dark, shaggy hair. Hasn’t shaved in a few days. Didn’t bother taking off his headset.

Goofiest fucking smile ever. And I kind of like it.

***

Is that not the most adorable?? Here’s where you can preorder it!

Smashwords | Kobo | Nook

(Amazon coming soon!)

***

 Chace Verity (she/they) is publishing queer as heck stories with a strong romantic focus, although queer friendships and found families are important too. Chace prefers to write fantasy but dabbles in contemporary and historical fiction as well. An American citizen & Canadian permanent resident, Chace will probably never be able to call a gallon of milk a “four-liter.”

If you think Chace Verity and Chasia Lloyd look suspiciously alike, you might be onto something.

Fave Five: Gay and Bi YA with Jewish MCs

(Note: there was already a cross-category post of Jewish MCs in LGBTQ lit, a couple of which were YA titles, so check there too. That was published before most of these were available.)

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsburg (G)

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta (B)

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (B)

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller (G)

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson (B)

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!