Fave Five: Queer Southeast Asian Fantasy

Note: These are books that all contain strong Southeast Asian elements, which in some cases combine with elements from East Asia as well.

In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupeco

The True Queen by Zen Cho

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

November Book Deal Announcements

Children’s

SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner Lawrence Schimel’s EARLY ONE MORNING and BEDTIME, NOT PLAYTIME, two board books that show LGBTQ families living ordinary lives, illustrated by Elina Braslina, to Ruth Linka at Orca Books, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2021 (NA).

Jeremy Whitley’s THE DOG KNIGHT, in which a non-binary kid must balance the real life troubles of middle school with the chance to face down the forces of chaos alongside a council of dog superheroes, illustrated by Bre Indigo, to Holly West at Feiwel and Friends, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in early 2021, by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds for the author, and by Brent Taylor at TriadaUS Literary Agency for the illustrator (world).

Young Adult

Kate Prosswimmer at S&S/McElderry has acquired LIES LIKE POISON by Chelsea Pitcher, in which a queer teen is charged with a murder she plotted to commit—before she ultimately backed out—and now must team up with her conspirators, whom she’s not sure she can trust, to uncover the truth and clear her name in a high-stakes whodunit for fans of Riverdale and Kara Thomas’s The Cheerleaders. Publication is slated for fall 2020; Mandy Hubbard at Emerald City Literary Agency brokered the deal for world rights.

Melbourne-based professor of literary studies’ debut novel Kate Hazel Hall’s FROM DARKNESS: Ari Wyndham is looking forward to summer holidays and a new baby sister. But when a tiger-snake delivers a deathly bite, a beautiful, ghostly and strangely familiar young woman appears, summoning Ari’s soul to the underworld. Ari and her summoner decide to break the rules and stay in the land of the living, where they must battle the evils of the underworld and the laws of life and death to prove that their love is strong enough to defy the Fates and save the world from darkness, to Annie Harper at Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press. Publication is slated for November 2020.

Carolina Ortiz at HarperCollins has acquired L.L. McKinney’s ESCAPING MR. ROCHESTER, a YA reimagining of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel that asks: what if the real villain of Jane Eyre was actually Mr. Rochester? In this queer romance, Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason—Mr. Rochester’s wife, whom he’s imprisoned within the house for years—must save each other from the horrifying machinations of Mr. Rochester. Publication is planned for winter 2022; Victoria Marini at Irene Goodman Literary Agency negotiated the deal for world rights.

Orlando Dos Reis at Scholastic Press has acquired HERE THE WHOLE TIME, a contemporary YA debut by Brazilian author Vitor Martins, originally published in Portuguese in Brazil, and translated by Larissa Helena. The novel follows Felipe – who is fat and gay – as he spends 15 days with his lifelong crush, Caio, in a love story about body image, self-acceptance, and standing up to bullying. Publication is slated for Fall 2020; Taissa Reis and Gui Liaga at Pagina 7 Agency in Brazil negotiated the deal for World Rights (except Portuguese).

Adult

Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize winner and SUGAR RUN author Mesha Maren’s PERPETUAL WEST, the story of a young couple—a Mexican-American man in search of his past, and a West Virginian woman seeking a future—trying to make their home among the academics and young leftists in the Mexican border city of Juárez, pulled from one another by an affair with a Lucha Libre fighter, a troubled cartel leader, their fears of and tethers to their own bodies, and the loud cry of home, to Kathy Pories at Algonquin, by Bill Clegg at The Clegg Agency (NA).

Asian-Australian former diplomat and international development adviser Shelley Parker-Chan‘s SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN, pitched as Mulan meets the SONG OF ACHILLES, a queer, alt-history reimagining of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty as an iron-willed peasant girl who steals her brother’s identity and great fate, and, defying the bounds of gender, rises from monk to leader of the rebellion against China’s Mongol rulers, to Diana Gill at Tor, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2021, by Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world English).

Gordy Sauer’s CHILD IN THE VALLEY, a coming-of-age story set in the harsh landscape of Gold Rush America, centering on a 17-year-old orphan’s journey to California in a wagon train of ruthless 49ers, which redefines his morality within the context of greed, his sexuality, and the still-fledgling American government, to Meg Reid at Hub City Press, for publication in April 2021, by Kirby Kim at Janklow & Nesbit (world English).

Catherine Hernandez’s CROSSHAIRS, a tale of a dystopian near-future, where a fascist regime threatens the lives of people of color, the disabled, the elderly, and all “other” communities, and four larger-than-life LGBTQ survivors band together and fight back, to Michelle Herrera Mulligan at Atria, for publication in fall 2020, by Marilyn Biderman at Transatlantic Literary Agency.

Kris Ripper’s THE LOVE STUDY, in which a commitment-phobic office temp agrees to be featured on a popular nonbinary YouTuber’s dating advice show, only to find himself falling for the host, to Stephanie Doig at Carina Press, in a three-book deal, by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary (world).

Cat Sebastian’s A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CAPITAL CRIME, a Georgian historical romance about a dashing highwayman and the disgraced aristocrat who tempts him out of retirement as they join forces to bring down a common enemy, to Elle Keck at Avon, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency (world).

Non-Fiction

Transgender comic artist and illustrator Julia Kaye‘s MY LIFE IN TRANSITION, picking up where her first book, SUPER LATE BLOOMER left off, showing what it’s like to live as a trans woman in modern society, the importance of one’s “chosen family,” navigating moments of dysphoria and misgendering, learning to lean on friends in times of need, and finding peace in a life that keeps moving forward post transition, again to Allison Adler at Andrews McMeel, in an exclusive submission, by Meg Thompson at Thompson Literary Agency (world).

Executive director of Bard Early College Initiative and education faculty member Michael Sadowski’s MEN I’VE NEVER BEEN, pitched in the tradition of BETTYVILLE and THE TENDER BAR, the coming-of-age journey of a gender non-conforming male trying to navigate the blind alleys of traditional manhood, facing the gauntlet of masculinity tests he feels destined to fail: the role models that don’t deliver, the TV tropes and archetypes that never seem to fit; about finding one’s true identity, to Nathan MacBrien at University of Wisconsin Press in the Living Out series, for publication in spring 2021, by Joelle Delbourgo at Joelle Delbourgo Associates (world).
Rights: rights@uwpress.wisc.edu

Making Familiar Ideas Fresh: a Guest Post by Deathly Desires Author Chris Bedell

Today we’re welcoming Chris Bedell to the site to discuss his recently released YA paranormal romance, Deathly Desires, which came out this month from Deep Hearts! Here’s a little more about the book:

I know what you did last spring…

When 17-year-old Cody’s unrequited crush, Mason, is killed by his friend Veronica, he helps her successfully cover up the murder. That is until the start of their Junior Year, when everyone involved receives a menacing note from someone who knows what they did.

The blackmail about Mason’s death quickly escalates to stalking, arson, and attempted murder. Cody and his friends must discover who found them out before they get killed themselves. And fast.

Noah has an altogether different secret. He’s a grim reaper, escorting people to the afterlife when they die. When his path collides with Cody, a spark soon forms between them. But whether they can make their relationship work is a different question. If Cody and Noah want a real chance at love, they’re going to have to be honest with each other about everything they’ve been hiding from the world.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

***

And here’s the guest post!

***

The idea that there are only so many stories to tell is one problem writers grapple with. However, the issue shouldn’t deter authors from writing. Putting a fresh twist on familiar ideas is possible. And that’s what I tried doing with my YA Paranormal Romance novel DEATHLY DESIRES, which was published by Deep Hearts YA on November 14, 2019.

Genre mashup is one way to breathe life into writing. The idea applies to DEATHLY DESIRES because of how I combine the Paranormal Romance genre with a Thriller. By itself, Paranormal Romance might generate fatigue because of the market becoming saturated after TWILIGHT.

I didn’t let that hurdle stop me, though. Paranormal Romance and Thriller books might seem different, but I made it work. 17-year-old Cody—one of my two POV characters—dating a grim reaper helps my plot. Noah is connected to the book’s main mystery even though the link might not seem obvious at first. My novel is therefore always building tension with both the romance and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” dilemma.

And within the Paranormal Romance and Thriller elements, I tried to add something slightly different to each. For the Paranormal Romance aspect that meant I didn’t wanna have werewolves, witches, and vampires be the focus. I’ll always love a good book about werewolves, witches, and vampires, but I didn’t have anything new to add.

So, I decided on grim reapers. Grim reapers don’t seem to have been covered much in pop culture like werewolves, witches, and vampires (at least to my knowledge). I still wanted to be careful with the human/non-human relationship, though. A relationship between a human and non-human wouldn’t be perfect, yet I didn’t wanna have it be Cody and Noah can’t together because it would be complicated or because of Cody’s father and friends don’t approve. I therefore decided on a compromise. Cody can build his relationship with Noah, yet sense something is off about Noah. That choice worked with DEATHLY DESIRES because Noah’s mysteriousness adds to the novel’s general mystery. Yet the irony is Noah is harmless. Noah isn’t the villain and respects humans (Noah was a human until he stopped aging at 17, and still looks like his 17-year-old self).

The Thriller genre elements of DEATHLY DESIRES also needed sprucing up. Cody and his friends Veronica and Brandon are dealing with their “I Know What You Did Last Summer” problem. But I didn’t wanna write teens who appeared shallowed. I don’t wanna give away too much, but I added mitigating factors to their situation so readers can understand why Cody, Veronica, and Brandon behave the way they do even if readers might not agree with their choices. The absentee parent is another idea I pivoted. Cody has a strained relationship with his father, but Cody realizes he must confide in his father about how him and his friends are the victims of a revenge game. Cody tries chatting with his father about said problem, yet his father rebuffs him. That occurrence provides a twist—I wanted to flip the situation. A parent usually might try getting their child to confide in them about a problem. But that’s not so with DEATHLY DESIRES. Cody’s father proves useless, so Cody therefore risks honesty for nothing.

The above ideas are just several examples to show how twisting familiar ideas doesn’t have to be complicated, but I hope they help. But above all, write the story you wanna write (within reason). Sometimes the projects authors are most passionate about are their most creative books, and that enthusiasm will hopefully come across on the page and make readers become engrossed in the novel.

Exclusive Cover and Excerpt Reveal: Eight Kinky Nights by Xan West

I am delighted to have Xan West back on the site today to reveal the cover of their newest Romance, which just happens to take place during Chanukah! Eight Kinky Nights is a kinky polyamorous f/f Romance releasing just in time for the holiday on December 16, 2019, and includes friends to lovers, roommates to lovers, kink lessons, seasoned romance and getting your groove back tropes, and polyamorous, gray ace, pansexual, Jewish, fat, autistic, and disabled representation. (More details in the tags.) Here’s the official blurb, with content warnings located here:Newly divorced stone butch Jordan moves into her friend Leah’s spare room, ready, at 49, to take on a new job and finally explore kink and polyamory. But moving to NYC during the holidays sends grief crashing through her, and Jordan realizes that when she isn’t solely focused on caring for others, her own feelings are unavoidable. Including her feelings for Leah.

51-year-old queer femme Leah, an experienced submissive kink educator who owns a sex shop, has recently come to terms with being gray ace and is trying to rework her life and relationships to honor that.

Leah has a brainstorm to help them both: she offers Jordan eight kink lessons, one for each night of Chanukah, to help Jordan find her feet as a novice dominant, and to create a structured space where Leah can work on more deeply honoring her own consent, now that she knows she’s gray ace.

She’d planned to keep it casual, but instead the experience opens cracks in the armor Leah’s been using to keep people at a distance and keep herself safe. Now she needs to grapple with the trauma that’s been impacting her life for years.

Can these two autistic queers find ways to cope with the changes they are making in their lives and support each other, as they build something new they hadn’t thought was possible?

Preorder: Gumroad | Amazon

And here’s the warm, lovely, kinky cover, illustrated by Hannah Zayit!

But wait, there’s more! Here’s an excerpt!

“So I had this idea and I wanted to see what you thought about it,” Leah said.

“Okay, I’m listening.”

“I was thinking about Chanukah, and had this idea for a present for you. You said you wanted to learn how to be a good dominant. I thought I could give you lessons, as your present. One lesson per night of Chanukah.”

Jordan felt her eyes go wide. She really had not been expecting that. “But, I thought you didn’t want to, so you told Iris to do it.” She hadn’t even decided to say that, had just blurted it out. It probably came out wrong. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful.”

“No, no it’s fine. I just want to make sure I understand what you meant. You thought I was rejecting you?”

“Well. Yeah. I mean, I’m used to it. You never took me to kink things. You didn’t really want me to go to your class. You seemed all weird after the party.”

“Oh, fuck. I’ve made a mess of this. I’m sorry. I didn’t take you to kink things because I was trying to be respectful of your vanilla-ness. Now that I know you’re kinky…I think I’ve been playing catch-up. I don’t change how I think of things very fast, you know that about me. So…I’ve acted all weird, not because I’m rejecting you, but because I’m awkward with change.”

“That’s the only thing that’s going on? Nothing else is making this weird?” Jordan wanted to be sure.

“Well, I think that’s the main thing that’s going on.”

“Uh huh.” Jordan knew there was something else.

“There’s this other thing I’ve been dealing with, and I’m still figuring out how to handle it. It might’ve had some splash over.”

“Okay. Do you want to tell me about it?”

“I’m not sure I have the words. But yeah I would, maybe. Though not right this minute.”

“Okay. So you really want to give me kink lessons? I don’t want you to feel obligated.”

“Yes, I really want to.”

“That would actually be great. It was okay getting stuff for my toybag with Iris, and I like her and everything, but if you were up for teaching me, I think that would feel…safer, if that makes sense?”

“Yeah, I get that. We have such a deep friendship, it could make a safer place to learn.”

Jordan nodded. “I trust you, and it feels better learning from another autistic person, honestly. You won’t expect me to learn in an allistic way.”

Leah grinned at her. “I definitely will not expect that. I didn’t even consider that aspect of this.”

“It feels like a big deal, for me anyway. I haven’t had the best learning experiences. You know that, you saw how hard college was for me.”

“Yep, I remember. So I was thinking about eight lessons, one per night, though eight nights in a row might be too much, so they can always be postponed.”

“Sounds good.”

“How would you feel about a structure where I do some teaching, then we do a short scene where you get to practice what we covered? And then we could do follow-up, if you have questions or want feedback.”

“So a bit like where Iris taught me some safety stuff about clips, and then I got to try it out?”

“Yeah, but a bit more formal than that. I might even make a handout for the lesson, and it would be a bit longer, probably. Not quite so quick and dirty.”

“I do better if I get to practice, and a handout would help me, actually. I also get things better if you can lead me to realizing them myself, and help me connect to other things I know.”

“Okay, I can work with that. So it sounds like this is something you want to do, then?”

Jordan took several slow breaths and held the idea for a few moments, just to be sure. “Yes. This is a really wonderful present, Leah.”

“I want to be sure it doesn’t fuck things up with our friendship. You mean so much to me, Jordan. I don’t want this to ruin what we have. So we need to keep it strictly about learning, okay?” Leah’s voice was raw.

“I don’t want us to ruin what we have, either. It’s been thirty years, darlin’. We made it this far; I really think we’ll be okay. Our friendship might change, might have new layers to it, move slightly differently. But then, that’s already started, and it seems okay so far, yes?”

Leah nodded. “I might need you to reassure me about this,” she whispered, closing her eyes.

“I can do that. We have a solid foundation. I truly believe that. We’re just adding new aspects to what we already have. Sex, kink, romance…none of that is more important than friendship.” Jordan watched Leah’s face carefully to see how she reacted to the fact that she’d snuck the word romance in there. A small tentative smile grew on Leah’s face, like she was rolling the words around in her head, wanting to believe in them. She definitely didn’t seem to object to the word. Jordan would just leave it there, for now.

Eight Kinky Nights is available for preorder from Gumroad and Amazon and releases December 16, 2019!

***

Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat Jewish genderqueer writer with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time on Twitter.

Xan’s erotica has been published widely, including in the Best S/M Erotica series, the Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “Trying Submission,” won the 2018 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Their collection of queer kink erotica, Show Yourself to Me, will be rereleased soon.

After over 15 years of writing and publishing queer kink erotica short stories, Xan has begun to also write longer form queer kink romance. Their recent work still centers kinky, trans and non-binary, fat, disabled, queer trauma survivors. It leans more towards centering Jewish characters, ace and aro spec characters, autistic characters, and polyamorous networks. Xan has two other queer kink romances currently available: Nine of Swords, Reversed and Their Troublesome Crush.

Fave Five: LGBTQ Historical Fiction Set in NYC

The Doctor’s Discretion by E.E. Ottoman (1831)

Lilies of the Bowery by Lily R. Mason (1914)

Spellbound by Allie Therin (1925)

Undiscovered Country by Kelly O’Connor McNees (1932)

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian (1989)

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We’re Here! We Read! And We’ve Got a Book-a-Month Calendar for Charity! (a Guest Post by Greg Wagnon)

I love books. I love calendars. And I love Lucie’s Place, the only LGBTQ-specific shelter in the state of Arkansas. So when Greg Wagnon of the LGBTQIA+ book club We’re Here! We Read! Get Used To It! approached me to ask about spreading the word of the new bookish calendar they’ve created that features artistic representations of their book club choices, I was dying to know more!

Over seventy-five people, companies, and organizations came together to create this 8.5″ x 11″ calendar, which “features some fierce models, drag queens/kings, and a mermaid” and a dozen original art pieces! I asked Greg to tell us a little more about the books chosen, and you can take a look at the calendar in the link below! 

The pre-sale for the calendar lasts until November 29th, and calendars will then be printed and shipped out the first week of December, so check out the books featured and get your orders in now!

Take it away, Greg!

***

Looking for a good book suggestion? How about twelve!

We’re Here! We Read! Get Used To It! LGBTQIA+ Book Club has worked with twelve authors to bring you an exciting LGBT book-a-month calendar for 2020.

https://lgbtqiabookclub.com/calendar

Want to know the best part about this calendar? All proceeds from the sale of this calendar will go directly to Lucie’s Place, Arkansas’ only LGBTQ-specific shelter. Lucie’s Place provides LGBTQ young adults experiencing homelessness in Central Arkansas with safe living environments, job training, and counseling services in order to ensure lifelong stability and success. Lucie’s Place strives to promote equality and acceptance for LGBTQ young adults.

January features The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember. The Seafarer’s Kiss may be based on The Little Mermaid, but it is not the same old story under the sea. Ember crates a whole new tale filled with sorcery, betrayal, and F/F romance. Young mermaid Ersel is forced to choose between the community she has know her whole life and a chance at love with a woman from above. How far will Ersel go for this new romance, and will that path lead her to a happy ending? A quick, exciting read that you will surely enjoy.

February features The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden. M/M romance, trans inclusion, and killer robots in a world full of magic? Yes, please! This wildly imaginative debut novel by Nicky Drayden was a book club favorite. Set in future South Africa, an ancient being wants to wake up the magic in all of us. But are we ready? Follow a diverse cast of people as the converge and fight to save humanity in an explosive ending!

March features Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. Santa Olivia is hard to put in a box. It’s part romance, part superhero, part revenge tale set in a post apocalyptic border town. One thing you won’t be is bored. The book features  F/F romance and polyamorous relationship.

April features Othered by Randi Romo. Celebrate Poetry Month with the collection of poems by Randi Romo. Romo is a Latinx, queer woman, writer, artist, long-time activist and organizer. She has said that writing saved her life. You will feel that truth with every raw, honest word she shares. You will revel with her. You will grieve with her. You will survive with her.

May features The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka. The first book in Kristen’s award winning Roxane Weary series. Kristen creates a wonderful new heroine, that happens to be a badass bi private investigator. Roxane is a woman who finds things, but can she find a woman missing for fifteen years? Will Roxane’s drive to solve this mystery take her too far? This is a book you will not be able to put down. It has a highly satisfying end, but will leave you wanting more. Luckily, there are sequels!

June features The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. DanforthThe Miseducation of Cameron Post is a modern classic in queer literature. Go with Cam on her journey of discovery in a beautiful and heart breaking coming of age story. I think this quote says it all, “Maybe I still haven’t become me. I don’t know how you tell for sure when you finally have.”

July features White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig. This who-done-it story takes place over one long July Fourth night. Gay teen Rufus Holt and his ex-boyfriend land in the middle of a murder mystery when his sisters wakes up next to a dead body. The pair endeavor to interview all the possible suspects in this thrilling read that will having you guessing until the very end.

August features Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron. After Jaya’s mother passes away, angels begin to fall from the sky. What does it mean? And what would you do if you found an angel? This beautiful story is part magical realism, part E.T., and 100% amazing. This story has F/F multiracial romance and disability representation! Warning: The ending of this novel is so beautiful, it may make you cry.

September features Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block. Block brings a classic tale to a modern world in a reimagined Homer’s Odyssey. Block expertly adapts this story into a something fresh and new. This adventure book features a trans love story! The main complaint the book club had about this novel was it’s too short. It’s so good, we wanted more! We were thrilled to find out there is a sequel.

October features Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova. The first book in Zoraida’s Brooklyn Brujas series. She didn’t just write a book about brujas; She created an entirely new world and religion for them to navigate. The scope of this novel is amazing. Go on a quest with Alex to rescue her family from an evil force. Don’t worry, even while trying to save her family and perhaps the world, there’s still time for a bisexual love triangle. I’m 100% team Rishi.

November features Light Before Day by Christopher Rice. Rice summons the best of crime noir in this modern thriller. This book has it all. Largely queer cast? Check. Well developed mystery? Check. Gay assassin? Check. Light Before Day is one wild ride you will be glad you went on.

December features Peter Darling by Austin Chant. Peter Darling is much more than a queer reimagining of Peter Pan. Chant gives new life and motivations to familiar characters to create a wholly new experience. This book will change the way you see Neverland. In a world of make believe, can two people find real love? This story features M/M trans romance.

Fave Five: LGBTQ YA MCs with Anxiety

Yeah, there are six. What can I say? We are an anxious bunch.

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno (Bf)

Ten Things I Can See From here by Carrie Mac (L)

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (GF)

Let’s Call it a Doomsday by Katie Henry (Bf)

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (G)

Ziggy, Stardust & Me by James Brandon (G)

Bonus: Coming up in 2020, Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan features a bi male protag with GAD!

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Excerpt Reveal: A Broken Winter by Kale Night

Today on the site we have an excerpt from A Broken Winter by Kale Night, an adult dystopian with an all-queer main cast releasing from NineStar Press on November 25th! Here’s the blurb:

General Auryn Tyrus is tired of serving an emperor who turns political dissidents into expensive steak and claims to have swallowed Ankari’s sun. He is fed up with pretending not to know Emperor Haken is buying biological weapons and collecting taxes for a war that doesn’t exist. Auryn’s role in the entire mirage leads him to drastic choices, but unexpected news halts his plans. Seven-year-old Keita Kaneko, the son of a former lover, is captured by the emperor’s special forces. Auryn secretly intervenes and spares Keita from execution.

Keita changes everything. Instead of feeling helpless and oppressed by a self-proclaimed living god, Auryn works to expose the emperor as a fraud. But he knows exactly what will happen if he’s discovered, and the extent of Emperor Haken’s lies is worse than anticipated. If Auryn expects anyone to believe the truth, he’s going to need proof. And a lot of help.

Buy it: Amazon | NineStar Press

And here’s the excerpt!

“Before you go in, there’s something you should know. Your roommate is a bit eccentric. Last guy he shared a room with had to be taken away in a straitjacket.”

“Thanks for the warning, but I’m sure I can handle it.” Auryn’s curiosity overrode any concern. He’d heard Reisen Kaneko could be difficult—stubborn and highly irrational—but this was what he’d trained for. He was ready.

Auryn opened the door. An overhead sprinkler was triggered, soaking everything. Reisen sat in the middle of it all, wearing a white lab coat. Dark, circular sunglasses shielded his eyes from view. Red hair stuck to him in wet tendrils. A large pair of white headphones crowned his head.

Auryn stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. Reisen didn’t appear to notice he had company. He approached cautiously, making no sudden movements.

“What are you listening to?” He wasn’t sure if Reisen could hear him.

Reisen glanced up. “Ludwig Van Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy.’ It sounds like something the God of Rain would listen to at high volume to ward off a panic attack, attempting to anchor in a sea of anxiety, exhaling thunder and inhaling lighting.”

“I’m not familiar with it.”

“I didn’t expect you to be. I have the only copy.”

Auryn was already soaked, water pooling at his feet. “My name is Colonel Auryn Tyrus. I’m the new chaplain.”

“Dr. Reisen Kaneko. Pleasure to meet you, Colonel Tyrus. Does our darling emperor think you’ll be a good influence? Help keep me on my best behaviour?”

“His Holiness knows you’d never stray far from the Light. This was the only bunk available.”

“How convenient.” Reisen removed his headphones, offering them. “Want to listen?”

Auryn put the headphones on, sceptical. “I never thought of gods as having a use for music.”

“How else would you expect them to maintain their sanity?” Reisen let the song play for several minutes, then paused it to inform Auryn, “This is my favourite part.”

The song was appropriately named. He’d never heard anything so joyful. It wasn’t anything like the music Emperor Haken allowed to play on the radio—all boring, one-dimensional noise devoid of personality. Mostly bland piano arrangements with an occasional harp accompaniment. This was triumphant yet vulnerable, encapsulating a range of human emotion over the span of numerous carefully crafted notes. He wanted to listen over and over again. Fortunately, Reisen was happy to share.

Reisen’s generous, considerate nature vexed him. Reisen was eccentric, not crazy. Honest, not a pathological manipulator. Humble, not arrogant. Worst of all, he was easy to get along with. Too easy.

It made his mission much harder than anticipated.

#

“You’re lucky they let you grow your hair so long. Doesn’t it get in the way?” asked Auryn.

Auryn and Reisen sat in their room, drinking tea in the dark. It was late at night, long after everyone was supposed to be asleep.

“Sometimes,” replied Reisen, lighting a cigarette. “But I’ve had long hair as long as I can remember. I hate cutting it. Feels too much like self-mutilation.”

“For your sake, I hope no one takes issue with it.”

“My mother punched someone who told her it was inappropriate for a young man to look like a little girl. Anger management wasn’t her strong suit.”

Auryn took a swig of tea, peering over the rim of the cup to watch Reisen’s cigarette cling to the corner of his mouth, trying not to stare. His gaze lingered too long on the man’s features, compulsively tracing them, memorising them like flight formulas. “I don’t remember my parents.” Sometimes he ransacked his memory for any trace of life before arriving at the orphanage. He never found anything but isolated crumbs—someone with rough hands, skin dry and cracked, the nauseating smell of rotten meat. The urge to shed his skin. A woman in a green sweater, her face blurred by time, sleeves too long.

“Orphanage kid, eh? What was it like being raised by the government?”

“Everything revolved around discipline and duty. Doing what’s best for Terasyn, not for ourselves.”

Reisen shook his head. “A fine sentiment for programming robots. Raising children, not so much.”

“It was okay. Every now and then Emperor Haken stopped by. I used to play games with Prince Elia.”

“Did they involve pulling intestines out of someone’s rectum?” Auryn stared at Reisen in horror. To speak of a member of the royal family in such a way was heresy. Reisen grinned crookedly. “Sorry. Elia is a creep.”

“Mortals are in no position to criticise the divine.”

“I can see why they let you run the chapel, Colonel.” Reisen confused him in every way imaginable. “But I’m afraid I disagree. Mortals are obligated to criticise the divine. To question everything. Otherwise we’re no better than sheep.”

“We’re not qualified to think for ourselves,” countered Auryn. “We don’t know what’s best for us. We are no better than sheep, and we can’t afford to reject the guidance of a competent shepherd.”

“Abused sheep have warped ideas of what constitutes a competent shepherd.”

Auryn watched Reisen’s blasphemous lips move, excited and cursed. He wanted to kiss him, even if it meant damnation, losing everything. “Come with me to the chapel. Pray with me. The gods will give you strength.”

“No, thanks, Chaplain. I’m good.”

I’m not.

Auryn sighed in frustration, standing. “It’s late, anyway. We should sleep.” Idle minds produced dangerous thoughts. They crawled back into their bunks. Auryn closed his eyes, trying to get comfortable, tense all over. “Reisen… Did you really drive your last roommate crazy?”

“Nah. You’re giving me way more credit than I deserve. He wigged out on his own. I’m just a convenient scapegoat. General Mordha doesn’t like me much, I’m afraid. Maybe it’s the hair.”

* * *

Kale currently resides outside a small town in northern Alberta, where she works in a library. She’s an avid reader with an English degree from the University of Calgary. In her spare time Kale loves playing video games, making chain maille, watching anime, and cultivating a steadily expanding bonsai collection.

Author Website

TBRainbow Alert: 2020 YA Starring QTPoC, Part I

Stay tuned for more to come when their covers and pub dates are revealed!

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim (January 7th)

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide. Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…

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Infinity Son by Adam Silvera (January 14th)

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

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Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore (January 14th)

Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

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Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland (February 4th)

This is the second book in the Dread Nation series

After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.

But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a

devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880s America.

What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears—as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.

But she won’t be in it alone.

Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by—and that Jane needs her too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.

Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive—even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.

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We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia (February 25th)

This is the sequel to We Set the Dark on Fire.

Being a part of the resistance group La Voz is an act of devotion and desperation. On the other side of Medio’s border wall, the oppressed class fights for freedom and liberty, sacrificing what little they have to become defenders of the cause.

Carmen Santos is one of La Voz’s best soldiers. She spent years undercover, but now, with her identity exposed and the island on the brink of a civil war, Carmen returns to the only real home she’s ever known: La Voz’s headquarters.

There she must reckon with her beloved leader, who is under the influence of an aggressive new recruit, and with the devastating news that her true love might be the target of an assassination plot. Will Carmen break with her community and save the girl who stole her heart—or fully embrace the ruthless rebel she was always meant to be?

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Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco (March 3rd)

45184250Tala Warnock has little use for magic – as a descendant of Maria Makiling, the legendary Filipina heroine, she negates spells, often by accident. But her family’s old ties to the country of Avalon (frozen, bespelled, and unreachable for almost 12 years) soon finds them guarding its last prince from those who would use his kingdom’s magic for insidious ends.

And with the rise of dangerous spelltech in the Royal States of America; the appearance of the firebird, Avalon’s deadliest weapon, at her doorstep; and the re-emergence of the Snow Queen, powerful but long thought dead, who wants nothing more than to take the firebird’s magic for her own – Tala’s life is about to get even more complicated….

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A Phoenix Must Burn ed. by Patrice Caldwell (10th)

43887961. sy475 Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.

Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.

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We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia (March 31st)

39297951. sy475 Nandan’s got a plan to make his junior year perfect. He’s going to make sure all the parties are chill, he’s going to smooth things over with his ex, and he’s going to help his friend Dave get into the popular crowd—whether Dave wants to or not. The high school social scene might be complicated, but Nandan is sure he’s cracked the code.

Then, one night after a party, Dave and Nandan hook up, which was not part of the plan—especially because Nandan has never been into guys. Still, Dave’s cool, and Nandan’s willing to give it a shot, even if that means everyone starts to see him differently.

But while Dave takes to their new relationship with ease, Nandan’s completely out of his depth. And the more his anxiety grows about what his sexuality means for himself, his friends, and his social life, the more he wonders whether he can just take it all back. But is breaking up with the only person who’s ever really gotten him worth feeling “normal” again?

From Rahul Kanakia comes a raw and deeply felt story about rejecting labels, seeking connection, and finding yourself.

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All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson (April 28th)

39834234. sy475 In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

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Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (May 12th)

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

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The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (May 12th)

Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled―but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.

As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.

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Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (May 12th)

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

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Date Me, Bryson Keller! by Kevin Van Whye (May 19th)

Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.

Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.

Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight…right?

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The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (May 26th)

This book was previously published in the UK. This is its US cover and pub date.

Fiercely told, this is a timely coming-of-age story, told in verse about the journey to self-acceptance. Perfect for fans of Sarah Crossan, Poet X and Orangeboy.

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

*I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.*

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You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (June 2nd)

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

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Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha (June 2nd)

Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV.

Victor, to his great relief, has tested negative.

Henrique has been living with HIV for the past three years.

When Victor finds himself getting tested for HIV for the first time, he can’t help but question his entire relationship with Henrique, the guy he has-had-been dating. See, Henrique didn’t disclose his positive HIV status to Victor until after they had sex, and even though Henrique insisted on using every possible precaution, Victor is livid.

That’s when Victor meets Ian, a guy who’s also getting tested for HIV. But Ian’s test comes back positive, and his world is about to change forever. Though Victor is loath to think about Henrique, he offers to put the two of them in touch, hoping that perhaps Henrique can help Ian navigate his new life. In the process, the lives of Ian, Victor, and Henrique will become intertwined in a story of friendship, love, and stigma-a story about hitting what you think is rock bottom, but finding the courage and support to keep moving forward.

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Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (June 9th)

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

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Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron (July 7)

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

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Exclusive Cover Reveal: Trans-Galactic Bike Ride: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories of Transgender and Nonbinary Adventurers ed. by Lydia Rogue

I don’t really know how to come up with a cooler name for a collection than Trans-Galactic Bike Ride: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories of Transgender and Nonbinary Adventurers, but then again, I don’t have to, because someone else did and I get to reveal the cover today! Trans-Galactic Bike Ride: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories of Transgender and Nonbinary Adventurers is edited by Lydia Rogue and releases January 21, 2021 from Microcosm Publishing, so yes, this is a very advance look, which is pretty awesome! Here are the details on the collection, which includes trans men, trans women, and non-binary folk in a whole array of different sorts of stories:

What would the future look like if we weren’t so hung up on putting people into boxes and instead empowered each other to reach for the stars? Take a ride with us as we explore a future where trans and nonbinary people are the heroes.

In worlds where bicycle rides bring luck, a minotaur needs a bicycle, and werewolves stalk the post-apocalyptic landscape, nobody has time to question gender. Whatever your identity, you’ll enjoy these stories that are both thought-provoking and fun adventures.

Featuring brand-new stories from Hugo, Nebula, and Lambda Literary Award-winning author Charlie Jane Anders, Ava Kelly, Juliet Kemp, Rafi Kleiman, Tucker Lieberman, Nathan Alling Long, Ether Nepenthes, and Nebula-nominated M. Darusha Wehm. Also featuring debut stories from Diana Lane and Marcus Woodman.

And here’s the epic cover, designed by Cecilia Granata!

Preorder here!

Check out Charlie Jane Anders reading “The Visitmothers” live here!

***

Gail Pasternack

Lydia Rogue is a writer and poet living in Portland, Oregon. They write stories and nonfiction that centers trans people, when they’re not writing sappy love poems for their fiancée or wrangling their four rats. You can find them online at lydiarogue.com