Exclusive Cover Reveal: Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander

Foodie romances are one of my absolute favorite subgenres, so I’m extra delighted to be revealing the cover today of Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander, an f/nb rom-com releasing from Atria/Emily Bestler Books on May 3, 2022! Here’s the story:

Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.

To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray. Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).

And here’s the delicious cover, illustrated and designed by Colleen Reinhart!

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

(c) Demi Y. Guo

TJ Alexander is an amateur baker and author who writes about queer love. Originally from Florida, they received their MA in writing and publishing from Emerson College in Boston. They live in New York City with their wife and various houseplants.

Fave Five: Sapphic Witches

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Edie in Between by Laura Sibson

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Bonus: These are all YA, but if you’re looking for Adult, check out Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper and, for a bi witch in an m/f romance, Boss Witch by Ann Aguirre

International Pronouns Day Book Spotlight: What Are Your Words? by Katherine Locke and Anne Passchier

Today is International Pronouns Day, and to celebrate, we’re highlighting a new picture book that’s all about them: What Are Your Words?:a Book About Pronouns written by Katherine Locke, illustrated by Anne Passchier, and published by Little, Brown!

Whenever Ari’s Uncle Lior comes to visit, they ask Ari one question: “What are your words?” Some days Ari uses she/her. Other days Ari uses he/him. But on the day of the neighborhood’s big summer bash, Ari doesn’t know what words to use. On the way to the party, Ari and Lior meet lots of neighbors and learn the words each of them use to describe themselves, including pronouns like she/her, he/him, they/them, ey/em, and ze/zir. As Ari tries on different pronouns, they discover that it’s okay to not know your words right away–sometimes you have to wait for your words to find you.

Filled with bright, graphic illustrations, this simple and poignant story about finding yourself is the perfect introduction to gender-inclusive pronouns for readers of all ages.

Buy It: Bookshop | Amazon | Indiebound

For further reading, check out this interview by We Need Diverse Books!

Fave Five: New Queer Horror

These titles were all published in 2020-21.

The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller

Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling

The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper

Red X by David Demchuk

Elegy for the Undead by Matthew Vesely

Bonus: Releasing on the 28th, Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt

 

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Wicked and the Willing by Lianyu Tan

Today on the site, please welcome Lianyu Tan, who’s revealing the cover of her steamy f/f gothic horror vampire romance, The Wicked and the Willing, which has a bi femme Chinese protagonist and releases May 13, 2022! (Note: the book has a love triangle, but there is a choice of mutually exclusive endings and no cliffhangers.  Due to the mature content and dark themes, it is intended for adult readers only. It contains potentially disturbing scenes and an abusive romantic relationship between two women. Further content information is available from the author’s website.) Here’s the story:

An orphan with a shameful secret must choose whom to love: her vampire mistress or the woman trying to save her life. A provocative tale of seduction, violence, and despair from dark lesbian romance author Lianyu Tan.

1927, colonial Singapore

Monsters don’t scare Gean Choo. And there are monsters aplenty among the Europeans on sultry Singapore island, all of them running away from something—or someone.

When she starts her new job as a lady’s companion, she can’t imagine falling for the impassioned, demanding mistress of Ambrosia Hall, nor the gruff, brooding woman who serves as her lady’s majordomo.

The latter holds her heart; the former, her body, blood, and loyalty.

Both want her.

Both need her.

And one of them will die for her. 

Here’s the chilling cover with art and design by MiblArt!

Buy it: Amazon | Apple | Books2Read

***

Lianyu Tan has always been fascinated by the darker side of love: obsessive yearning and monstrous desires. She usually writes dark romance with a fantastical twist, but has recently found a home in gothic horror. Her debut novel Captive in the Underworld is an F/F dark lesbian romance retelling of the Hades/Persephone myth.

Lianyu is a queer Malaysian Chinese Australian and lives with her wife in Australia. She loves to hear from readers and you can find her as @LianyuTan on most social media platforms. Subscribe to her newsletter for free bonus content and short stories: https://go.lianyutan.com/subscribe

Queer Cauldron: Mixing it All Together for LGBTQ+ Stories, a Guest Post by Author Courtney Lanning

Please welcome Courtney Lanning to the site today, to discuss writing queer casts for queer stories, including in her recent release, Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl! Here’s a little more about the book:

Roxie is a sweet trans girl who just wants to spend the rest of her summer vacation playing music with her friends in their band. Living in a southern college town like Fayetteville has its challenges. Dan is a shop wizard who would give anything to escape the store he’s been trapped in for a century under the watchful eyes of a witch and a talking fox.

Their paths converge when Roxie is given the ability to travel into dreams and tasked with fighting off nightmares.

Unbeknownst to Dan and Roxie, other dream walkers are searching for an enchanted key, and if they find it, they’ll plunge the entire city into a living nightmare. The shop wizard and pixie dream girl will have to team up to stop them, facing their own nightmares along the way.

Buy it: Amazon

And here’s the post!

It does my heart good to see so many queer stories being published this year. LGBTQ+ literature is going strong, and I hope it’ll just continue to snowball into 2022 and beyond.

Some of my favorite titles I’ve pounced on this year include The River Has Teeth and The Lost Girls (big sucker for ya lesbian fantasy novels). And while I can’t speak for authors like Erica Waters and Sonia Hartl, I can speak for myself as a queer author in terms of what’s driving my own LGBTQ+ writing.

My debut fantasy novel, Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl, released on the last day of Pride Month, and it follows the adventures of a trans girl who is given the ability to travel into dreams.

When I was writing the book, all I could think to myself was I just don’t see enough transgender representation in the fantasy genre. Fortunately, Riverdale Avenue Books gave me an opportunity to help address that.

As I wrote chapter after chapter of Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl, I found myself reaching into a cauldron of queer material that inspired me, not only growing up, but over the last decade of my writing.

Anime is something I’ve enjoyed watching ever since I was a little girl, and Sailor Moon was the first one I saw. I spent several years wanting to grow up to be a magical girl like Usagi and the other Sailor Scouts. But this anime also had a queer twist, introducing Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus as gay lovers in the third season.

It’s no secret that I took a bit of influence from Sailor Moon when I created the character of Roxie. I wanted to accomplish a few different things with Roxie’s character, primarily establishing her as a magical girl of my making and giving transgender readers a hero of their own to cheer for and reflect on.

When it came to overall themes of Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl, I also found myself borrowing a bit from the cartoon Steven Universe, both in moments of levity and silliness with my characters and placing an importance on mental health care, which is something the show brings up repeatedly for most of its characters.

In chapter two, where Roxie first appears, she goes to see her therapist. It’s one of the first things she does, and I wanted to establish that as a normal part of her life. Given the discrimination and mistreatment transgender women face externally and the dysphoria that can eat away at them on the inside, I knew it was important to show Roxie taking steps to deal with her trauma and normalize addressing it.

Of course, I also had literature to pull out of my queer cauldron and mix into Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl. My favorite author is Holly Black, and not long after coming out, my wife suggested I read her Tithe trilogy. So, I did, and quickly fell in love with those stories. To this day, they sit very first in line on the top level of my bookshelf.

Black showed me how important it was to have other queer characters throughout your novels, and throughout her books about faeries, she establishes not just queer characters but a magical world of Faerie where beings just are what they are with regards to gender and sexual identity. Nobody is treated badly for having an identity outside of the cis-het “norm.” In Black’s world of faerie, characters are treated horribly for other reasons, but that’s a different essay entirely.

So I knew I couldn’t just have a transgender protagonist and assume that was all the representation my story needed. So in Roxie’s tight friend group I introduced Tessa, a queer girl who plays guitar and drives a beat up old van she uses to transport all the band equipment.

In book two, The Ozarks Druid (coming out next year), I include other LGBTQ+ characters, like the protagonist, Aoife, a bisexual girl in a relationship with a drama student named Abigail. And there are more in books three and four. I intend to include a plurality of LGBTQ+ characters throughout my Boston Mountain Magic series. Black’s subsequent works like The Darkest Part of the Forest and the Folk of the Air series helped show me how important that is.

But I suspect most queer authors have their own rainbow cauldrons and brews they use to craft queer stories like I do. It’s my hope publishers will continue to seek out those authors and their queer cauldrons because the world needs all of it.

***

Courtney Lanning is a journalist in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She’s earned a master’s degree in multimedia journalism. When she’s not writing, Lanning is probably watching a movie, playing video games, reading or out running. Her debut novel, Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl, released at the end of June 2021. She can be found on Twitter under @SapphicCourtney or on Facebook under Courtney Lanning – Author.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Cinder the Fireplace Boy and Other Gayly Grimm Tales by Ana Mardoll

Today we welcome back to the site Ana Mardoll, who’s releasing another fantasy story collection, this one playing on fairytales and titled Cinder the Fireplace Boy and Other Gayly Grimm Tales! The book releases January 4, 2022, and contains Queer, Trans, Nonbinary, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Ace, and Aro rep, so there’s a little something for everyone! Come check it out:

Once upon a time there lived… a beautiful prince who kissed a frog. A cinder-smudged child who hid a secret. A princess who climbed a long braid of golden hair for love. A thumb-sized boy with the courage of a giant. And a valiant little tailor whose wit was as sharp as her needle.

These stories and many more await you in this delightful collection of classic fairy tales, lovingly retold and featuring characters who receive wonderfully queer happily-ever-afters! Let these new takes on the Brothers Grimm warm your heart and nurture your yearning to see yourself reflected in beloved favorites.

Features eight original illustrations by artist Alex Dingley.

And here’s the fairytale cover, designed by Anna Dittman!

Want a sneak peek inside at one of the gorgeous illustrations by Alex Dingley? Check out this stunner from The Robber Bridegoom!

Buy it: Amazon | Books2Read | Apple | B&N | Kobo | Vivlio | Angus (AU) | Bol.de | Thalia (DE)

Ana Mardoll is a writer, activist, and nonbinary trans boy in love with another trans boy. They live together in Texas with five spoiled cats. Ana’s favorite employment is weaving new tellings of old fairy tales, fashioning beautiful creations to bring comfort on cold nights. Ana is the author of the Earthside series, the Rewoven Tales novels, and many published short stories. (Pronouns: xie/xer) [More bio and pronouns here if you’re curious: http://www.anamardoll.com/p/writings.html]

Fave Five: Spooky Season Comics

Specter Inspectors by Bowen McCurdy and Kaitlyn Musto

The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado and DaNi

Memetic by James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow by Mariko Tamaki and Natacha Bustos

Abbott: 1973 by Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivela

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann

It’s a fabulous year for YA authors shifting over to Adult Romance, and if you’re as excited as I am about Claire Kann being one of the writers to make the shift, then just wait until you see this cover. The Romantic Agenda releases from Berkley on April 12, 2022, and here’s the story:

Thirty, flirty, and asexual Joy is secretly in love with her best friend Malcolm, but she’s never been brave enough to say so. When he unexpectedly announces that he’s met the love of his life—and no, it’s not Joy—she’s heartbroken. Malcolm invites her on a weekend getaway, and Joy decides it’s her last chance to show him exactly what he’s overlooking. But maybe Joy is the one missing something…or someone…and his name is Fox.

Fox sees a kindred spirit in Joy—and decides to help her. He proposes they pretend to fall for each other on the weekend trip to make Malcolm jealous. But spending time with Fox shows Joy what it’s like to not be the third wheel, and there’s no mistaking the way he makes her feel. Could Fox be the romantic partner she’s always deserved?

And here’s the gorgeous cover with art by Alex Cabal and design by Rita Frangie!

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | The Ripped Bodice

(c) Annie Clark

Claire Kann is the author of Let’s Talk About Love, If It Makes You Happy, The Marvelous and an award-winning online storyteller. In her other life she works for a non-profit you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it.

Fave Five: Queer Indigenous YA

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones

Elatsoe and A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

Love After the End ed. by Joshua Whitehead (anthology)

The Boy from the Mish by Gary Lonesborough (publishing in the US as Ready When You Are on February 1, 2022)

Songs that Sound Like Blood by Jared Thomas

Bonus: Coming in 2024, Godly Heathens by H.E. Edgmon