The Colorful Catalog of…Shira Glassman!

Hello and welcome to The Colorful Catalog, which focuses on authors who’ve got at least five published LGBTQIAP+ books (including novellas) and gives you an overview of everything they’ve got, as provided by the authors themselves! Hopefully you can find at least one book that screams “I NEED THAT!” from any given catalog, and from there, if you love it, ta da! Instant access to info on where to go next.

I’m delighted to showcase the colorful catalog of Shira Glassman, queer indie rec-er extraordinaire and seriously prolific authoress of all things LGBTQAP. As a bonus, you get to stock up on a whole bunch of Jewish queer lit right before Rosh Hashana! Everybody wins!

Hi! I’m Shira Glassman, and today I’m going to play for you the first movement of the sonata for unaccompanied violin by Arthur Honegger—

Wait, sorry, wrong opening line! I’m sure most of you know me, if you know me at all, from my fantasy series, but since this is a backlist guide: did you know I’ve written two contemporary romance novellas, too? The theme of both is borrowed from my orchestral life. Fearless is about a band mom who falls for an orchestra teacher while everyone is snowed in at All-State, a cute butch lady who might just get her to pick up the violin again after a twenty-year lapse. Lioness in Blue is about the bi girl who sits second oboe, whose flirtation with the hot, beardy older man who sits first oboe finally leads to affirming, mildly femdom-y sex.

Now that I’ve satisfied the people who aren’t interested in SFF: on to The Mangoverse! My series originally started as a combination of three needs: a way to cope with the unexpected loss of my father, a lifelong hunger for f/f princess fairytales (when I was A Tiny we didn’t have K.S. Trenten’s Fairest or Audrey Colthurst’s Of Fire and Stars), and wanting to see love instead of conflict between The Hero and The Dragon—which is relatively easy to find nowadays, but not so much in the 80’s. Every book in the series was written to stand alone, and just be separate but sequential adventures about the same characters, but I have no idea if I succeeded at that so you may want to read reviews.

Another important note is that the main character has problems digesting gluten and some of the proteins found in poultry, and her chief romance is with a palace cook who becomes her personal chef as well as her partner.

The first in the series is The Second Mango (hey, kids, never put the word “second” in the first book in a series. Whoops!) in which a nerdy lesbian named Shulamit inherits her father’s throne suddenly at a far too young and sheltered age to know How to Queen. By the end of the book she’s started to figure her shit out, and has acquired a nice solid Found Family to cherish, including a bi girlfriend. The focus of the book is on solidifying her friendship with her new hetero demi bodyguard Rivka while they ride around having adventures. Rivka’s got a significant romantic arc in the book, too, if you’re looking for demi m/f.

Climbing the Date Palm picks up three years later, where Kaveh, a “bi prince from next door” begs Queen Shulamit for help rescuing his labor activist boyfriend Farzin from a trumped-up treason charge. Apparently King Jahandar didn’t like it when his son fell in love with the guy who stood up to him about wage theft. Oops! Shulamit is determined to find a way to help that won’t involve war, even though Rivka is chomping at the bit. This one includes a poly aromantic cat-shifter and is based on real local events in my home county, in which activist friends of mine fought to establish an ordinance that since its inception (around the time I wrote the book) has recovered around 45 thousand dollars in stolen wages from employers.

A Harvest of Ripe Figs shows Shulamit solving mysteries in her capital city as part of her royal obligation toward justice, while she and her partner Aviva raise the baby princess. A celebrity violinist’s instrument is stolen just after her performance, and it quickly turns into a more general security problem as Shulamit comes to realize illegal magic may have been used to disguise the theft.

The Olive Conspiracy just came out this summer. Shulamit uncovers an international plot to tank her country’s economy by sabotaging their agriculture, their main source of strength. What’s worse, the beautiful straight foreign princess she crushed on as a teenager might be behind it. This one features a new lesbian couple—some farmers she helps when they’re about to lose everything—and a heroic elderly trans woman. I had a good time contrasting Shulamit’s healthy, loving relationship with her partner as an adult with the intensity and one-sided torture of her crush at sixteen. The book has adventure, lots of dragon screen-time, three bi characters, three lesbians, and a rescue kitten.

There are also short stories! If you buy Figs and Olives in paperback, you’ll get all the short stories included, but if you buy the eBooks, the short stories are included separately in a volume called Tales from Perach. There are seven of them all together, and they give some of the supporting characters (like the lesbian farmers or the trans woman chef) an opportunity to take center stage, or recount one of Rivka’s adventures on the road with only her dragon companion before Shulamit hired her. (Rivka’s story features her rescuing an aro ace “damsel in distress”, so if that’s special to you, don’t miss “Rivka in Port Saltspray.”)

As a final note at the end, veering away from Mangoverse again, I do have some erotic shorts available online. “Eitan’s Chord” is a Chanukah fairy threesome, about magic to bless a young, impoverished trans m/cis f couple one winter. “Wet Nails“—ignore the cover; it was part of an anthology and I can’t control that for now—is paranormal sex between two bi women, a lonely grad student and the ghost of her favorite glamorous 1950’s Hollywood actress. “Treasure Hunt” is about two guards who get sent into a dragon’s cave to steal treasure. They doubt the dragon’s existence and use the opportunity to eat lunch and fool around, but the dragon…. is watching.

All of the above focus on Jewish characters and often have holidays and other rituals woven into the text. Mine are worlds where religion and the queer soul are completely compatible—with a note to my non-religious readers that with the exception of some of the Tales from Perach shorts, the Jewishness is more focused on the secular culture than the religion itself. My warrior woman Rivka’s native language is Yiddish, for example.

My one published work so far that doesn’t include anything Jewish is my anti-biphobia short “The Artist and the Devil,” about an art teacher who becomes increasingly suspicious that his businessman crush is actually Satan. I’ll leave it up to you to read and figure out if it counts as contemporary romance or paranormal, because categorizing it under those conditions would be a spoiler! 😉

*****
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Shira Glassman is a violinist living in Florida with a very good human and a very bad cat. She is best known for writing fluffy queer fantasy that draws inspiration from her tropical upbringing, Jewish heritage and present life, and French and German operas. She believes that we need infinite princess, dragon, and superhero stories for all the demographics who never got to play those roles when she was little; some of the ones she’s written have made it to the finals of the Bi Book Awards and Golden Crown Literary Society awards. Her latest is The Olive Conspiracy, about a queen and her found-family saving their country’s agriculture from a foreign plot.

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TBRainbow Alert #5

For those of you who feel like you’ve already read every LGBTQIAP+ book in existence, not to worry – there’s plenty still to come! Every TBRainbow Alert will have a mix of five LGBTQIAP+ titles to make sure are on your radar, along with three reasons why you should know them. If you missed the earlier alerts, you can check out those titles here. And now, because I can’t wait to get these books on your reading lists, check out some of what awaits in 2017!

Title: History is All You Left Me (January 17)
Author: Adam Silvera
Genre/Category: YA Contemporary
Rainbow details: gaaaaay (and a bi LI)
Why put it on your radar?
1. I mean, you read More Happy Than Not, right?
2. Not only is this a lovely, soul-crushing grief novel, but the exploration of mental illness as the MC wrestles with his OCD is excellent.
3. If you’ve ever wondered how quickly a book will shatter your heart, enjoy!

Title: Our Own Private Universe (January 31)
Author: Robin Talley
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: f/f with a bi MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. Robin Talley’s the most consistently publishing author of mainstream LGBTQ YA right now (this is book number 4, plus she’s got a queer short story in The Tyranny of Petticoats), so you’ll wanna stay on top of whatever she does!
2. If you’ve read books like Judy Blume’s Forever or Daria Snadowsky’s Anatomy of a Boyfriend that walk through both the emotional and physical complexities of a first sexual relationship in great detail and have thought “Maaaan, queer girls could really use that,” WELL. You are in luck!
3. No, seriously, this is the first YA I’ve ever read that discusses dental dams.

Title: Born Both: An Intersex Life (March 14)
Author: Hida Viloria
Genre/Category: Adult memoir
Rainbow details: Intersex
Why put it on your radar?
1. I don’t know if you’ve read any #ownvoices Intersex lit but I sure as hell haven’t.
2. In addition to being intersex, Viloria is also genderfluid and Latinx.
3. Viloria also has videos and an active blog on he/r site, so there’s already plenty of bonus content!

Title: The Cursed Queen (January 3)
Author: 
Sarah Fine
Genre/Category: 
YA Fantasy
Rainbow details: B
i female MC, f/f
Why put it on your radar?
1.
Book one in this series, The Impostor Queen, was one of my fave fantasies of last year, so I’m dying for the next one!
2. This book positive screams “badass MC,” which is my crack.
3. Magic and torn loyalties and a romance with a chieftain’s daughter?? I MEAN.

Title: Star Crossed (March 14)
Author: Barbara Dee
Genre/Category: Contemporary MG
Rainbow details: Bi female MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW LITTLE LGBTQ MG THERE IS?
2. Look how freaking adorable that cover is. LOOK.
3. I…actually don’t think I’ve ever seen a bi MC this young. The blurb alone pretty much makes my heart explode.

Ways to fill a gap: LGBTQIA representation in Australian YA, a Guest Post by Emily O’Beirne

what-are-ya-coverEvery time I’m crouched in front of my bookshelf, and my eye wanders over that gloriously Aussie eighties title, What are Ya?, I wonder how many queer teen reading lives Jenny Pausacker saved. I unearthed this book in a second-hand bookshop sometime in the late nineties. I’ll admit I bought it more for the fabulously kitsch value of its cover art than anything. And after finishing it, I had to agree with the reviewer on Goodreads who claims it reads like an episode of Heartbreak High (a nineties Aussie teen drama). But it’s not the book’s literary merit that makes this book important. It’s the fact that a YA book featuring a lesbian as one of the main characters existed at all in 1987. A prolific author and YA stalwart, Pausacker claims to be Australia’s first openly gay YA writer. And she was certainly one of only a tiny handful of Australian writers bringing queer YA characters to life through the eighties and early nineties.

A dearth of LGBTQIA YA in Australia thirty years ago is unsurprising in itself. Especially in a country that’s still dithering on marriage equality. What’s more surprising is the fact that it’s really only begun to get better very recently.

If I wanted to pinpoint the moment when I think the tide first started to (very) slowly turn for Aussie LGBTQIA YA, it was the second half of the nineties. Because any archeo-literary dig for signs of guilt about a lack of diverse literary representation in Australia almost always end with a good old-fashioned short story anthology. It’s almost as if publishers suddenly realise, “We don’t have enough [insert minority here] voices! How socially irresponsible. Quick—an anthology!” Then they flood the gap with short stories. In the late nineties not one but two LGBTQIA collections featuring short stories for young adult readers appeared. This was accompanied by about 9 or 10 novels (a bunch of them written by Pausacker) published in the period. Slowly LGBTQIA teens were being allowed to see themselves in printed existence.

Young adult fiction is popular in Australia. New titles are released every week by major publishing houses. The LoveOzYA movement, a community of aficionados, bloggers and industry folk, vigorously supports emerging and established YA writers. Entire panels and afternoons are dedicated to the demographic at major literary festivals. And good LGBTQIA YA books appear to enjoy the same enthusiasm as the rest.

But until recently there haven’t been that many to celebrate. The creator of the AUSQueerYA list on Goodreads has unearthed at total of 91 LGBTQ YA books published in Australia between 1975 and 2016. While 91 is not an awful number, only a proportion of these book feature LGBTQ main characters. Others simply offer a queer minor cast member or those nebulous LGTBQIA “themes.” Of those 91 books, roughly two thirds were published in the last decade.

the-flywheelIt’s really only the last few years that could be described as banner years for LGBTQIA content. Not just in terms of abundance (okay, abundance is erring towards hyperbole), but for visibility, too. Eli Glasman’s 2014 A Boy’s Own Manual to being a Proper Jew was widely reviewed in Australian publications, celebrated for its storyline centering on issues of faith and sexuality. Erin Gough’s The Flywheel, about a young lesbian trying to save her father’s café, won the the 2013 Ampersand prize for emerging writers. Will Kostakis’ highly successful 2016 novel, The Sidekicks, has recently been sold in the United States.

So what’s taken so long?

It’s hard to say, exactly. Whenever there’s a lack of representation of minorities in fiction, the first fingers tend to be pointed at publishers. For they are that tricky intersection where creativity meets economic imperative meets social responsibility. It’s like the good old ‘good, fast cheap—pick two’ project management triangle. Only with representation at stake. But is the notion that publishers are not progressive or willing to risk money on minority voices a reality? Or is it just a leftover from a recent, less liberal, past? It’s hard to know. But that apprehension does exist. For example, despite its eventual success The Flywheel author, Erin Gough, was doubtful about the future of her novel even while she was writing it.

The Flywheel was for many years a fun personal project that I worked on without any real intention of publishing. I didn’t think it was the type of book anyone would publish, partly because of the main character’s sexuality,” she says.

Instead, Gough would be awarded an Australian Council emerging writer’s grant while working on the book. Then she would go on to win the publisher’s prize that would land her a book deal and place her vivid novel into the limelight.

Award-winning YA author, Fiona Wood believes she has seen evidence of a shift in publishing attitudes over the span of her career. “I have noticed things are much better in terms of representation, even compared to seven years ago, when I was looking for a publisher for Six Impossible Things,” she says. “I got a reader’s report back then, not from my eventual publisher, but from someone else I was talking to, and it actually said that Dan’s father being gay would affect school sales in Queensland, were the book ever to be published. I don’t think you’d hear anything like [that] these days.”

But the slow growth in this country may not just be about publishers. Gough suggests there a number of other, complex factors might have potentially inhibited an increase in Australian LGBTQIA YA, such as LGBTQIA writers’ initial need to be comfortable with their own sexuality (something she claims to have struggled with), the desire not to be pigeonholed as an LGBTQIA writer, gatekeeping by parents and librarians apprehensive to expose young readers to LGBTQIA voices, and a possible reluctance of straight writers to write from an LGBTQIA perspective, feeling they don’t have an authority to do so.

songs-that-sound-like-bloodOne Australian author who has experienced this last apprehension, but who also felt compelled for both personal and political reasons to plough on, is Jared Thomas. Thomas recently brought one of a few recent, sorely-needed, LGBTQIA YA novels featuring Indigenous main characters to the Australian YA landscape. Songs that Sound like Blood traces a year in the life of a young musician, Roxy May Redding. The novel, published by Magabala Books, an Indigenous publishing company, is a tumultuous and affirming coming-of-age story about being young, ambitious, Indigenous and queer.

“I was apprehensive about writing this story as a 40-year-old man,” Thomas admits. And to ensure he was doing his character and story justice, Thomas sought critique and support from LGBTQIA friends, family and colleagues. But despite these doubts, Thomas was compelled by a need to address what he sees as a very particular and “huge” gap in LGBTQIA YA fiction about Indigenous lives (as well as one in YA in general), one that had become far too crucial to ignore.

Thomas cites his concerns about the cuts in funding to services and programs, and high suicide rates among Indigenous youth as imperatives for him to provide rich, positive representation for (and of) young Aboriginal people.

“I started to think more about what it means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are also same-sex attracted and dealing with stigma associated with this on top of the more general racism and bigotry directed toward Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

This sense of a kind of double stigma is constructed as an inevitable part of Roxie’s life in Songs, when she says her support worker at uni, “I was paid out for being Aboriginal, and that was bad enough. I didn’t even realise I was gay.”

Both Woods and Gough have also had issue of the nature of LGBTQIA representation on their minds as they write. Woods books are purposefully peppered with a spectrum of queer characters, in a way that mirrors the contemporary cosmopolitan society her characters exist in. There are inner-suburban two-mum families. There are dads who come out late in life. There is the best friend who designates herself a “lesbian-in-waiting” because she can’t come out while living under the same roof as her strict, Vietnamese parents. In Woods’ novels LGBTQIA characters range from being the subject of a character’s passing thoughts to solid, finely-drawn characters. Either way, they are always there. This ubiquity is part of a conscious project on Woods’ part to promote the idea of “inclusive normality”. Something she says is done “very much in the spirit of ‘diversity = life’, as opposed to ‘diversity = issues’.”

For Erin Gough, the desire to increase LGBTQIA representation in Australian YA started first from personal experience. “I thought about how much I had needed to read such a story as an undergrad, and how I hadn’t been able to find one to read.” But Gough is not just seeking to fill a gap. She is also hoping to broaden the spectrum of representation in LGBTQIA storytelling, starting with a decision to make her main character aware and comfortable with her sexuality from the start of the book.

“I’m hopeful that we’re getting to the point where we can tell stories about LGBTQ characters that are not just ‘coming out’ stories,” she says. “The LGBTQ experience is far richer than that.”

There is certainly something reassuring in the way that these writers all consciously share an awareness of the need for LGBTQIA representation in Australian YA, but see different needs to be filled. It’s hard to know which project has more urgency: representing minority queer voices, normalising LGBTQIA through constant, no-big-deal representation, or broadening the scope of stories told about young LGBTQIA people.

That’s because the answer is all of the above.

Australian YA fiction needs lots of no-big-deal gay characters. We also need big-deal coming out stories. We need LGBTQIA representation for all minorities. We also need to up the representation of trans, queer, intersex and asexual experiences. Because from here on, diversity is not just about Australian YA needing more LGBTQIA content. That’s clearly starting to happen. Now young Australian readers need a rich palette of experiences from which to draw recognition and affirmation. An array of stories to find themselves in. And these books need to keep coming until there is a story that resonates for every single one of them.

heres-the-thingEmily O’Beirne is an Australian writer of LGBTQIA young adult fiction. Here recent novels include Points of Departure and Here’s the Thing. Thirteen-year-old Emily woke up one morning with a sudden itch to write her first novel. All day, she sat through her classes, feverishly scribbling away (her silence probably a cherished respite for her teachers). By the time the last bell rang, she had penned fifteen handwritten pages of angsty drivel, replete with blood-red sunsets, moody saxophone music playing somewhere far off in the night, and abandoned whiskey bottles rolling across tables. Nowadays she (hopefully) writes better stories.

***Some recent Australian LGBTQIA YA Fiction***

 

Cover Reveal (+Excerpt): Perfect Ten by L. Philips !

This whole thing is so freaking cute I am not even gonna talk about it because I can’t do it a fraction of the justice the cover/blurb/excerpt can, so without further ado, here’s a little more info on gay YA Perfect Ten by L. Philips, coming June 6, 2017!

Who is Sam Raines’s Perfect Ten?

It’s been two years since Sam broke up with the only other eligible gay guy in his high school, so to say he’s been going through a romantic drought is the understatement of the decade. But when Meg, his ex-Catholic-turned-Wiccan best friend, suggests performing a love spell, Sam is just desperate enough to try. He crafts a list of ten traits he wants in a boyfriend and burns it in a cemetery at midnight on Friday the 13th.

Enter three seemingly perfect guys, all in pursuit of Sam. There’s Gus, the suave French exchange student; Jamie, the sweet and shy artist; and Travis, the guitar-playing tattooed enigma. Even Sam’s ex-boyfriend Landon might want another chance.

But does a Perfect Ten even exist? Find out in this delectable coming-of-age romcom with just a touch of magic.

And now…the afreakingdorable cover!

Perfect_Ten_ CVR

But wait, there’s more! Excerpt FTW!

“Come on, Sam,” Meg prods. “What’s so bad about Michael?”

“You mean besides the smoking and the horrible cliché of losing your virginity in a hotel?”

“I’ve already owned up to the cliché, Samson . . .”

“You just caught him texting another girl a few weeks ago.”

She pouts prettily. “He explained that. It was nothing.”

“And the time before?” She opens her mouth to protest, but I go on before she can. “I’m just saying, why would you want to with him?”

She unlinks her arm from mine and gives me a shove that has a little more force than I expect. “I don’t know. Why did you want to with Landon?”

At the mention of my ex-boyfriend–slash–other best friend, I feel myself tense. “I was in love with Landon.”

“And I love Michael.”

“But Landon and I were different.”

She crosses her arms over her chest and kicks hard at an innocent pebble in her path. “Oh yes, and you and Landon were the exception to every rule. Michael and I couldn’t possibly be that perfect. No one can live up to the Sam and Landon standard of epic and tragic romance.”

“That’s not what I’m saying. And we weren’t that tragic.”

“Darling, you two were practically Brontë characters. You broke his heart and now here you are, two years later, and you haven’t even had a crush on someone since, have you, Sam?” I don’t answer, and there’s a tense pause between us before she adds, “Exactly two years, actually.”

“You know, I could have gone through the whole day without thinking of it, but thanks for that reminder,” I say acidly.

“I’m sorry,” she says, and I know she means it. “He brought it up to me at lunch. He’s the one who remembered. Not me.”

I don’t know how any of us could have forgotten it, least of all me. October tenth, two years ago, I ended my relationship with Landon. He didn’t speak to me for almost six months. Meg didn’t speak to me for three days, the longest we’d gone without talking since I accidentally decapitated one of her Barbies when we were seven. Hell, I wouldn’t have spoken to myself if I could have gotten away with it. I absolutely loathed Samson Raines for a long time afterward. But now Landon is my friend again. We worked everything out. He and I are fine. All three of us are fine.

Fine, fine, fine.

“I wish he didn’t remember,” I say, and Meg shifts our arms so she can squeeze my hand. I sigh. “Bygones. Anyway, we were talking about you and Michael, and not my love life, which is totally unfair to bring up by the way, because I don’t exactly have any options, do I?”

“There’s always Archie,” she says, smirking. Archie Meyers is the only other gay boy besides Landon and me at Athens High, but he’s not even a blip on my radar. It’s not that I’m shallow, but there is absolutely nothing attractive about Archie. Between the buck teeth, the acne, and the IQ that must top out in the double digits, I would have to be drunk out of my mind to even consider it. Even then it would be a stretch.

But then her smirk droops thoughtfully. “No. Wait. I heard the other day that Archie’s dating some guy he met at a Dungeons and Dragons meeting over the summer . . .”

I turn my head slowly to Meg. “Seriously? Even Archie Meyers has a boyfriend?”

Meg makes a clicking sound with her tongue. “There’s a whole big world of boys out there, Sam. Someone perfect for everyone, I think, even the D and D playing sort with buck teeth.”

“Then I’m sure there’s someone out there for you who isn’t a total douche like Michael.”

***

L. Philips went to Ohio University for a degree in Music Education, decided that job was entirely too noisy, and became a librarian instead. When she’s not working, she enjoys belting show tunes when she thinks no one is listening and watching the same episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine over and over (or at least that’s what she tells her toddler son). She lives in Ohio.

***

Love this cover and excerpt as much as I do? You can add Perfect Ten on Goodreads now, and, even better, preorder it at B&N and Amazon!

New Releases: September 20, 2016

As you can proooobably tell, I know LGBTQIAP+ YA better than anything else, so I’m still catching up to the rest, but I do know today’s got some cool-sounding releases in other categories, so check out this variety of new releases out today!

Overexposed by Megan Erickson

28490317Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he’d planned to do with his sister.

His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs…

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

The Yelp: A Heartbreak in Reviews by Chase Compton

28695559
When Chase Compton met the love of his life at a dirty dive bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he had no idea how far from comfort the relationship would take him. Their story played out at every chic restaurant, café, and bar in downtown New York City. Ravenous hunger, it seemed, was their mutual attraction to one another—until suddenly the appetite was spoiled, and Chase was left to pick up the pieces of a romance gone wrong.

Left high, dry, and starving for affection (and cheeseburgers), Chase turned to an unlikely audience in a moment of desperation: Yelp.com. Detailed in the Yelp reviews is the story of how to survive a broken heart. Every meal and cocktail shared is a reminder of times spent with the ever elusive “Him.” In recounting the bites devoured and the drunken fits of passion that propelled the relationship, the author chronicles his whirlwind relationship with the man of his dreams, revisiting the key places where the couple ate, drank, and fell in and out of love in the West Village and beyond.

The Yelp is a memoir of personal transformation and self-realization, or more simply—a memoir of food and love, played out on a map of modern Manhattan’s culinary scene. The book includes the original twenty-eight Yelp reviews, with interwoven narrative chapters that provide context, insight, and delight to Chase’s story.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

28371999Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his teammates, to Josh, and to his new crush, Madeline. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

And, coming tomorrow:

Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver

26020617Celosia Brennan was supposed to be a hero. After a spectacular failure that cost her people their freedom, she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance at redemption. Together with a gifted team of rebels, she not only sets her sights on freedom, but defeating her personal demons along the way.

Now branded a failure, Celosia desperately volunteers for the next mission: taking down the corrupt Council with a team of her fellow elementally gifted mages. Leading the Ember Operative gives Celosia her last hope at redemption. They seek to overthrow the Council once and for all, this time bringing the fight to Valeria, the largest city under the Council’s iron grip. But Celosia’s new teammates don’t trust her—except for Ianthe, a powerful Ice Elementalist who happens to believe in second chances.

With Council spies, uncontrolled magic, and the distraction of unexpected love, Celosia will have to win the trust of her teammates and push her abilities to the breaking point to complete the Ember Operative. Except if she falters this time, there won’t be any Elementalists left to stop the Council from taking over not just her country, but their entire world.

Buy it: Torquere * B&N

LGBTQIAP+ YAs Available in Audio

In the last two Shopper’s Delight posts, the accessibility focus was on finances. Today’s post is on a different form of accessibility – those who require (or even simply prefer) audiobooks. To that end, here are a whole bunch of LGBTQIAP+ YA books available in audio! (Please note that Adult books have their own Gay & Lesbian category, which is why I’m not doing a post on that here. YA does not.)

Male Protags

  • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (CD * Audible)
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (Audible)
  • Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle (CD * Audible)
  • Drag Teen by Jeffery Self (Audible)
  • Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (CD * Audible)
  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva (CD * Audible)
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (CD * Audible)
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (CD * Audible)
  • Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (CD * Audible)
  • Boy meets Boy by David Levithan (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (CD * Audible)
  • And I Darken by Kiersten White (CD * Audible)
  • Proxy by Alex London (Audible)
  • Hero by Perry Moore (MP3 CD * Audible)

Female Protags

  • This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Ash by Malinda Lo (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Huntress by Malinda Lo (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (CD * Audible)
  • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Audible)
  • Unbecoming by Jenny Downham (Audible)
  • None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (Audible)
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (Audible)
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (CD * Audible)
  • Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (CD * Audible)
  • Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan (CD * Audible)
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Audible)
  • Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (CD * Audible)
  • Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters (CD * Audible)
  • Empress of the World by Sara Ryan (Audible)
  • Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton (Audible)

Male and Female Protags

  • You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour (CD * Audible)
  • As I Descended by Robin Talley (CD * Audible)

Non-Binary Protags

Contemp F/F Romances Under Five Bucks

If you shop for f/f Romance a decent amount, you’ve probably noticed that it tends to be waaaay pricier than m/m or m/f, so, in yet another round of helping you queer up your shelves (or your Kindle) on a budget, here are ten f/f Romances (NA and up; you can find YA here) that are all under five bucks (with thanks to Vanessa North for the help and the inspiration!):

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The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins ($2.99)

Roller Girl by Vanessa North ($3.99)

The Final Rose by Eliza Lentzki ($3.99)

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler ($3.99)

The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer ($3.99)

Something True by Karelia Stetz-Waters ($3.99)

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon ($4.99)

The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper ($4.99)

Such a Pretty Face by Gabrielle Goldsby ($4.99)

Top to Bottom by Delphine Dryden ($4.99)

Fast Five: YA Sci-Fi/Spec-Fic with Queer Male Protags

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Proxy by Alex London

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

(Bonus: Coming October 25, 2016: Boy Robot by Simon Curtis)

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Release Day Interview with Radical author E.M. Kokie!

I’m psyched to have E.M. Kokie on the blog today, in honor of her brand-new YA, Radical, about a lesbian pro-gun survivalist named Bex who falls for a girl with a strongly differing ideology from the one that’s defined her life. It’s such a different book for the YA canon, and one of so few with a butch lesbian MC, I knew I had to pick her brain about it.

First, a little more about the book:

Radical Cover MediumDetermined to survive the crisis she’s sure is imminent, Bex is at a loss when her world collapses in the one way she hasn’t planned for.

Preppers. Survivalists. Bex prefers to think of herself as a realist who plans to survive, but regardless of labels, they’re all sure of the same thing: a crisis is coming. And when it does, Bex will be ready. She’s planned exactly what to pack, she knows how to handle a gun, and she’ll drag her family to safety by force if necessary. When her older brother discovers Clearview, a group that takes survival just as seriously as she does, Bex is intrigued. While outsiders might think they’re a delusional doomsday group, she knows there’s nothing crazy about being prepared. But Bex isn’t prepared for Lucy, who is soft and beautiful and hates guns. As her brother’s involvement with some of the members of Clearview grows increasingly alarming and all the pieces of Bex’s life become more difficult to juggle, Bex has to figure out where her loyalties really lie.

And here’s info on the special deal if you order a signed copy from indie bookstore A Room of One’s Own today!

Pre-order Twitter Graphic

And now, the interview:

Right off the bat, let’s discuss the fact that Radical is tackling some tough topics at a tough time. What thoughts have come to mind about releasing a book with a very pro-gun lesbian MC just a few months after the shooting at Pulse?

I knew, even when I was writing the early drafts of Radical, that writing about a pro-gun lesbian was going to be a double whammy. In later drafts, I found myself calling Radical the book with “something for everyone to hate”—some might really struggle with the parts about the guns (or the mere mention of guns might turn them off), some readers might not be comfortable with the lesbianism, and some might be uncomfortable with the sex. But this was the book I needed to write. I needed to better understand our gun culture, the pervasive fear and anger feeding movements like the survivalist and private militia movements, and I wondered about the girls and women within these subcultures. But in early drafts and in the first years working on the manuscript, I couldn’t have foreseen just how hard it would be to talk about a book about guns and queers in the months before publication.

And not just because of Pulse, but also because of the steady and horrific string of shootings we’ve seen in recent years. Every one has hit me hard, and every one is part of why I wrote this book.  But in the months after Pulse, it seemed impossible to talk about any of this. I ached for every lost life, every shattered dream, every face and name and their families. And I didn’t want to talk about guns—or Radical.

In the last few months I’ve re-read bits of Radical and reminded myself why I wrote it.  I’ve never been a gun owner. I’d never touched a gun before the research for Radical. Writing Radical didn’t change my mind about gun ownership for myself, and probably not for those in my home. And I still have complicated thoughts about gun ownership in general. But it helped me understand a little better what I had thought of as “gun culture” in this country, and gave me some insights into the factors driving movements like the survivalist and private militia movements. And I think I was also working through some issues about why we laud as feminist and empowering stories about a girl saving the world, but don’t often embrace stories about a girl saving herself—especially when we don’t like where she comes from or some of her choices—even when the latter often takes more bravery.

Radical doesn’t offer any quick and easy answers. Not about family. Not about survival. Definitely not about guns. And I get why it makes some readers uncomfortable. My hope is that it stimulates questions, and conversations, and an attempt to get beyond the “them” and “us” so many big issues seem to devolve into.

Probably the thing that’s most startling about Radical is how familiarly Dystopian the feel is, but then it’s in fact a Contemporary. How intentional was that? Or do you think it’s just inevitable with the subject matter?

It was not at all intentional. In fact, when I shared the first bits and pieces of early drafts at conferences and with writer friends, I was surprised by how many people thought it was a dystopian novel, or not even our world at all.  I worked hard to anchor the first chapters in our here and now reality.

But it does feel sometimes like we’re living in the early chapters of a dystopian story, doesn’t it? Or maybe not a dystopia, because there was no utopia preceding it, but the things we think of as the hallmarks of a dystopia—oppression, targeting of immigrants and minorities and women, chilling of a vigorous and objective media, wealth inequality, ever-present fears of external threats, scary politics and scapegoating, and an uptick in violence and weapons stockpiling.

Radical has a seriously well-researched feel. What kind of work went into its creation?

I’m an attorney, so research is my first instinct whenever something piques my interest or puzzles me, or when I want to better understand something or someone.  The first glimpse of the idea for Radical began with a newspaper story that led to several years of research into survivalist training and organizations, preppers, and the private militia movement. I first needed to understand the differences between these movements and the common threads, politics, and influences.  Then, as I knew nothing about guns, I needed to do significant research into firearms handling, gun laws, and related legal issues. I also did some reading and engaged in conversations about gender and sexual identity. I did a lot of the early gun research online, but when it came to the guns, I needed to viscerally experience them. I needed to feel the heft, weight, kick, how it felt to aim and fire, and the smells and almost taste of the tang in the air right after a shot.  How it felt to take them apart, clean them, and what it might be like to be responsible for your own firearms.  So, I had to shoot a gun for the first time, multiple guns, in fact.  I was lucky enough to connect with some experienced gun owners, and so I was able to experience shooting their firearms in an outdoor setting, much as Bex and her brother would shoot in their woods.  Then I connected with an expert in firearms training and handling who offered insights and advice while I was writing and revising Radical. Candlewick later hired him to do a content review of the manuscript, which was fantastic.

What’s a particularly conscious choice you made in Bex’s representation?

It took three drafts to work out Bex’s gender identity. Everything about it was deliberate, but also sort of organic at the same time. In the earliest draft I thought Bex might be transgender, or maybe genderqueer. But as I worked through the early drafts, I started to wonder how Bex would identify and if she was a butch lesbian. I tried really hard to separate my understanding of identity and identity politics from Bex’s far less studied understanding.  And to ultimately understand Bex, I needed to work out how Bex actually felt about her body and how she experienced the world in that body. It was a deliberate choice to walk those lines between butch lesbian, genderqueer, and transgender in the early drafts, trying to figure out who Bex is. Ultimately, I chose to write her as a butch lesbian because it’s what felt most natural for her character, and for me, but also because it spoke to me to write this butch girl, clear in her love of other girls, clear in her identity as a girl, but also embracing her expression of that feminine as not the girly version her mother attempted to instill. She knows who she is and how she feels most herself. I love that about her.  I get why some describe her as masculine, but that, to me, implies she is rejecting her female identity. I don’t see her as rejecting the feminine, so much as expectations of femininity. And, of course, she knows she looks good in cargo shorts.

What’s the first queer representation you saw in any medium that really stuck with you, for better or for worse?

At some point in my early teens I read both The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. I can’t remember which I read first, but it’s my memory of reading The Shell Seekers that has most viscerally stuck with me. I can barely remember the sprawling plot, but I remember how the cover felt and I can remember exactly where I was when I realized the older women who lived down the way in the book were lovers. They were lesbians. And the other characters called them lesbians, on the page. But they were…old. Like, old-old (to my young teen sensibility). And lovers. And other characters knew it. And still talked to them and liked them. And people like my mom and women in her book group read this book. And they liked it.  I was giddy and thrilled and shocked and filled with glee to find comfortable lesbians in this book-group-type-book.  I was probably fifteen years or more from fully coming out, but it was the first moment I realized there were happy, old lesbians, and maybe I could be one of them someday. (And I have to say, my recollection was that the lesbianism wasn’t a large part of the plot or even really mentioned in the book. But when I went looking for it to confirm my memory, it’s discussed even more than I remembered. One character even references The Well of Loneliness, which went over my head at the time I read the book. Maybe if I had gone looking for that, it would have moved my coming out up by quite a few years).

What’s something you’ve seen in LGBTQIAP+ lit that’s really stuck with you, for better or for worse?

The lack of sexual experiences between queer characters, especially girls. We’ve seen queer romantic storylines for a while, but they seem to fade to black even more often than heterosexual teen romances in young adult lit. Sometimes in queer YA lit it even feels like a cut to black with only the merest reference to something physical happening beyond kissing. And looking at heterosexual sexuality in YA isn’t really a substitute for exploring queer sexual experience, in part because of the gender dynamics such experiences often involve and in part because of what acts are often classified as “sex” and what acts are discounted or ignored. I find it problematic that there isn’t more exploration of the significance and value of a wider an array of sexual experiences.

While working on Radical, I went looking for YA novels with lesbian relationships specifically to see what was already out there. I was surprised to find very few with any kind of specific sexual experiences or any sensory detail. It left me feeling a little like I was treading unexplored territory when I first started working on those scenes in Radical. And prompted some soul searching and blogging of my own. [http://emkokie.com/attractive_nuisance/2013/05/09/in-our-own-words/]  I was frustrated that I didn’t even feel like I had go-to language for my characters to use in thinking about and discussing their bodies.  It was really important for me that Bex and Lucy’s physical relationship feel organic and natural to them, but that it also explored consent and language and a more female-centric exploration of sexuality.  I’m happy to see that since those early drafts of Radical there seem to be more explorations of the physical side of romance in LGBTQIAP+ YA novels, but I think we still have a lot of unexplored territory. To be clear, I’m not saying there aren’t novels and characters in which a fade to black isn’t appropriate or that every queer YA should include sexual exploration or even romance. But I would like to see more parity for LGBTQIAP+ teen characters, and overall a better exploration of positive depictions of female and queer sexuality.

What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads?

These questions haunt me. Tomorrow, or next week, or three days after this interview posts, I will inevitably think of one or more books I can’t believe I didn’t think to include. But some of my favorites are: George by Alex Gino, Ash & Huntress by Malinda Lo, Sister Mischief by Laura Goode, If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan, Freak Show by James St. James, Empress of the World by Sara Ryan, Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger,  Ask the Passengers by A. S. King, Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash, 37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order) by Kekla Magoon, and After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson. They’re not all perfect, flawless books, and some of the queer characters or storylines are secondary to the primary plot, but these are some of the ones that really stick with me for a variety of reasons.

What would you still love to see in LGBTQIAP+ lit?

Queer girls of all kinds, shapes, colors, cultures, class, and identities. More happy queer girls. More exploring queer girls.  More genderqueer and genderfluid characters. More truly questioning characters, maybe who are even still questioning at the end of the book, or at least obviously and proudly still evolving. I’d like to see more stories where the focus isn’t on the teen confirming their identity for all time, but on exploring who they are and who they are becoming.  And more exploration of what it’s like to be queer outside of upper-middle-class suburbia.

What’s up next for you?

Radical took a lot out of me. The research, the writing, and even ramping up to promotion with everything going on in the world. So, I’ve been working on several projects, but not really sure quite yet which will reach manuscript, or book form, next.  😉

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3013aAbout E.M. Kokie

I have always loved the way a good book could sweep me away, but I was a lazy student and never thought I could actually be a writer. So in between the usual tortures of high school, I made up stories, but kept them in my head. Now I share my stories—specifically, novels about teens on the cusp of life-changing moments, exploring issues of identity and self-determination. My debut novel Personal Effects was published on September 11, 2012 by Candlewick Press. I am represented by Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary. I live in Madison, Wisconsin with my partner.

Better Know an Author: Alex London

Welcome to Better Know an Author, a feature title I stole from Colbert Report because I miss it so, which will introduce you to a fabulous author of LGBTQIAP+ books every month! This month, the spotlight is on Alex London, aka C. Alexander London, author of YA sci-fi duology Proxy and Guardian, and lots of other books besides! Come say hi!

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You write adult nonfic, YA fic, and, primarily, books for younger readers. Do any of those categories feel the most like You, or does writing as widely as you do really feel like the best expression of you as an author?

I’ve never been all that into labels, limits, or categories when it comes to story-telling (or to people!), so it never occurred to me not to write across age ranges and genres. I write to the story I want to tell that needs me to tell it. Sometimes that leads to a silly talking animal story for kids or a gritty cyberpunk for teens or a bit of reportage about armed conflict. Each book is a prism, taking some of who I am and refracting it. I guess added up, all the different books would give a person a pretty strong sense of me, but it’s by no means complete. I couldn’t say I know solar thermodynamics just because I’ve felt the sun on my neck, and I couldn’t say I know an author just because I’ve read their books.

Got any tips for other authors who might struggle with jumping genres (or categories)?

Write the most honest story you can, whether it’s humorous or grim, realistic or fantasticalif it fills you with wonder and need and you tell it with clarity and honesty, you’ll find the voice for it and it’ll find the readers who need it. Don’t let the market dictate the stories you tell. I say this, even as it probably drives my publishers crazy that there is no clear “brand” that I adhere to. I’m sure I’d be more successful, commercially, if I was better at staying in one lane, but I’d probably get bored. I guess, in terms of switches genres or age categories, there are no real rules but what works. To quote the great sage of Bravo, just “make it work.”

What was it like publishing Proxy when LGBT YA Sci-Fi was basically nonexistent? (Not that it’s particularly booming now, but.) What’s been your favorite kind of feedback to it?

16101023It’s been quite wild these last few years. When I first turned in Proxy, there were conversations within the publisher (blessedly, all affirmative) about whether they could publish a mainstream sci-fi thriller with a gay lead. It just wasn’t done. And they certainly didn’t advertise that the main character was gay. They didn’t want it to be pigeonholed as a “gay book.”

And shortly after it came out…no one read it. It was, sad to say, a flop. Hollywood decidedly did not come knocking, as, at the time, there was no appetite for queer characters in “genre” stories (that is changing…) and the sales numbers on the book were pitiful.

And then, word started to spread, one reader a time. The publisher repackaged the book, doubled down on it. It found champions in the YA community and then librarians embraced it, putting it on state reading lists, thrusting it into the hands of Hunger Games and Divergent fans, whether they were straight or gay. And all of sudden, nearly two years after it was first published, it found an audience. It does not have millions of readers (yet!), but every week, more eager story-seekers find their way to it, and I’m just beyond thrilled that it keeps going after a rather inauspicious start.

I’m moved when I hear from queer readers, especially queer readers of color, who thought they’d never get to see someone like themselves represented in this kind of story, but I’m just as moved when I hear from straight white readers that they’d never rooted for a gay hero before, let alone a gay PoC, never been waiting with bated breath for him to (spoiler alert) kiss another guy. The diversity of my readership has really been the most inspiring thing for me, from football players in Texas, to juvenile detention centers in Alaska, to Connecticut boarding schools. I love seeing how a book can still be the story we all gather around the campfire to hear, and we all see it from whatever different angle we’re sitting through the blazing embers of our experience. That sounds a bit grandiose. What I mean is, I love how much smarter my readers are than I am, and how much more they bring to the book than I or my publisher could have predicted or hoped.

You’ve got a lot of travel under your belt. What’s a city or country you dream of setting a book in someday, and why?

Right now, I’m working on a new YA fantasy trilogy, and I’m loving inventing cities and countries, so the idea of limiting myself to a real place isn’t all that appealing. That said, I hope to set a book in the neighborhood I just moved to in Philadelphia. It’s a magical little place filled with all kinds of quirks. I don’t know it well yet, but I’m sure there’s a darkness hidden beneath its idyl that is just waiting to be mined for narrative!

What’s something you’ve seen in LGBTQIAP+ lit that’s really stuck with you, for better or for worse?

I’m troubled by the dominance of white cis gay boys in YA, while at the same time, as one myself who was starved for representation until adulthood, I love reading all of them. But I think I can like something while recognizing its cultural dominance is a problem. I’m doing what I can to champion LGBTQ stories that aren’t all the white gay boy story, even while devouring those same stories. There is enough room in our reading culture for a wide range, and the growth of one type of story shouldn’t imperil another…if we don’t let it. Another thing I’ve been thinking about within the gay boy stories is the devaluing of more “femme” boys, especially in genre, and what that says about who gets to be a hero. I’m very interested in Le Guin’s “carrier bag theory of fiction” and want to read more and write more within fantasy and sci-fi that relies less on the “way of the sword” so to speak. I want to see how queer heroes can queer heroism itself.

What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads, and which ones are you most looking forward to?

Right now there are just so many (and I am woefully behind in my  TBR pile), but some recent faves include (for grown-ups) What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell and Christadora by Tim Murphy. In YA, I’m eager to dive in to Adam Silvera’s History is All You Left Me, and I can’t wait for Katherine Locke’s The Girl with the Red Balloon.

I recently devoured On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis (there are queer characters and themes in it). Also recently loved John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior. There are so many good books with LGBTQIAP+ characters and perspectives that it’s hard to choose. I’m reading a grown-up fantasy novel right nowPatrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Windand I’m loving it except I find myself wondering: where are all the queer characters?! A gay male couple showed up eventually in the background of a scene and were perfectly fine, but it is a reminder that queer people, though we are everywhere in the world, are still often erased or sidelined in fantasy worlds, even really good fantasy worlds (and I’d say Rothfuss’s is really really good so far…I’m still reading). While not every story in the world is about LGBTQ people or should be, we need to keep speaking up and writing our stories and sharing each other’s until a world without us feels incomplete to any reader, not just the queer readers.

Your next book up is a YA Fantasy called Other Bloods. What can you share about it?

Yes, and I’m super excited to be returning to YA at last! Other Bloods is set in a land of high stakes falconry, where all eyes turn to the sky, even as intrigue and danger pull them to the ground. It’s the story of a brother and sister on a reluctant quest to capture the legendary eagle that they believe killed their father, although of course, there is more afoot than they know. There’s love and longing, mystery and danger, and a matriarchal owl cult that I’m ridiculously giddy about writing. I think Proxy fans will be delighted, and I hope fantasy readers will too. And fans of LGBTQIAP+ lit. And, really all readers…I mean, who doesn’t want a book that can be described as The Scorpio Races meets Lord of the Ringswith falcons (which is how my agent put it…I might have yelped/peed a little with that description)? It won’t be out until 2018, I think, but I’ll certainly be sharing more details as the date approaches.