All posts by Dahlia Adler

Guest Recs from Erin Ptah: Webcomics with Major Nonbinary Characters!

We are super lucky to have Erin Ptah on the site today, doing the first in a series of webcomic recs! You may recognize her name from this cover/excerpt reveal, and if webcomics are your thing, you’re not gonna wanna miss her posts or her work! Take it away, Erin!

Hey there, LGBTQReads, I heard you might be webcomic-curious. Let me hook you up with some recs.

The plan is to do a whole series of these, and I’m totally open to suggestions. So if there’s something you want to see more of in webcomics — whether it’s an identity thing like “f/f romance” or a trope thing like “queer stuff with robots” — just say so in a comment and I’ll give it a whirl.

Today’s theme: Webcomics with major nonbinary characters!


sample-hazardsoflove

(1) The Hazards of Love by Stan Stanley

The story of a queer teenager who made a few bad decisions and has found themselves in a world very far from Queens.

Fantasy drama, ongoing. The main character’s birth name is Amparo, and I bring this up because it’s not a deadname that was deliberately changed, they just inadvertently lost it in a bargan with a supernatural creature. Along with the rest of their identity. (Oops.)

So now they’re stuck in a fantastical alternate dimension, Bright World, which has these lovely designs and aesthetics drawn from the artist’s Mexican heritage. Nothing in Bright World gets given for free, and our hero doesn’t have much left to bargain with. As of the most recent comic, they’ve picked up a new name (Fawn), but lost some memories and a couple of appendages (hands).

Word of God is that Fawn would specifically ID as “agender butch” if they knew the terms, although it’s not something that comes up in-universe, because, you know, they have other stuff to worry about.


sample-chaoslife

(2) Chaos Life by A. Stiffler

Focuses on a queer relationship between A. Stiffler and K. Copeland, who create the comic! It also delves into politics, GSM issues, mental health, pop culture, cats and other randomness.

Autobio comedy, ongoing. Not nearly as much to say about this one because it’s mostly cute one-shot gags. The artist, A., is agender, and got married to K. over the course of the strip. They own an assortment of ridiculous cats. (Pet death does get addressed, when it comes up.)

This is the one comic in the list that’s grounded in actual reality, so it’ll have reactions to current events like the US’ legalization of same-sex marriage, and strip topics like Being Agender 101. Some of you may find this a useful resource…others may find it a minor annoyance to click past so you can get to the next joke. Either way, it also has a lot of good jokes.


sample-floraverse

(3) Floraverse by glip

Floraverse is a webcomic and open world project focused on making stories and music. Viewer participation and discussion is highly encouraged.

Surreal fantasy, ongoing. And when I say “surreal” I mean…look, it starts out linear enough, with a little story about a cute bird-pixie and an even cuter jelly-critter trying to make a delivery. Then it skips around to some other stories in the same universe without resolving the first one, and eventually it becomes clear they’re not in chronological order, but now there’s something to do with time loops and characters getting reversioned and maybe the whole thing is just a play Jupet is watching? Or is Jupet writing the play/story/universe?

I have no idea. What I do know is, it’s beautiful. The character/creature designs are lush and varied, the art goes through a couple different complex styles, the color palettes alone are worth reading for.

There’s no explicit discussion about how gender is treated in-universe, just multiple characters who go by they/them, without any fuss or slip-ups by the people around them. The major ones are Beleth, a cat-demon who shows up in two different incarnations (versions? re-embodiments? something like that), and Jupet, a childlike but deceptively-powerful critter who appears to be 90% fluff.


sample-jobsatisfaction

(4) Job Satisfaction by Jey

What is everyday life like for a professional summoner, their zealous assistant, and the demons who crash on their couch and help out with taxes?

Fantasy comedy, ongoing. Started out very slice-of-life, though it’s developed more drama and intrigue as it goes on. The nonbinary main characters are demon summoner Sinh Thùy — I’m not sure if they’re a demon themselves, or just a human who’s blue for some reason — and fussy assistent Lemme Laviolette, who seems to have a crush on their boss that may or may not be going anywhere.

Sidenote: Dr. Thùy uses forearm crutches, and there are scenes where you can see bars and other mobility aid architecture in the setting. I don’t remember if it’s been stated whether they’re for a chronic disease or a demon-inflicted injury or what, but either way it’s a detail that most artists wouldn’t bother to include, so it’s cool to see.

Most of it takes place in the normal world, where the general public knows that demons exist, they just mostly would rather not meet any. The trans characters get some misgendering from fellow humans, although ironically not so much from demons, which don’t seem to fit into human gender schemas anyway. Sure, they might eat you, but they can’t be bothered to figure out which pronouns would upset you.


sample-dropout

(5) Drop Out by gray

A comic about two girlfriends who go on a roadtrip.

Bittersweet drama, complete. You have to be in the right frame of mind to read it — girlfriends Lola and Sugar are actively suicidal for most of the story, which follows them on a trip to the Grand Canyon to jump over the edge. But if you’re in the right place, it’s cathartic and amazing, with some of the best writing about ongoing depression I’ve ever seen.

It’s also an anthro comic, with a pixel-y style and handwritten text that can be hard to read, but don’t pre-judge it on any of those things. You’ll miss out.

Both characters are different varieties of intersex, which comes up in their conversations, how the conditions have affected their backstories and interacted with their emotional issues. Lola seems to be comfortably nonbinary, in contrast with Sugar, who’s nominally a woman but talks about struggling with it, in a way you almost never see — characters either have their gender already settled when the story starts, or go through a linear discovery process along the way.

The whole thing is natural, and earnest, and comes in between silly random conversations about the finer points of ninja throwing knives. The author is also a depressed intersex nonbinary person, which shows through in how everything feels deep and well-integrated, not caricatured or pasted-on.

Seriously, it’s great and you should go read it.


ptah_profile_by_erinptah-dbwe6fuErin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (featuring bigender social worker Timothy/Camellia) and Leif & Thorn (featuring agender magic knight Juniper). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

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New Release Spotlight: The Doctor’s Discretion by E.E. Ottoman

New E.E. Ottoman book alert! And look at that cover! That blurb! That, well, everything; this book looks seriously incredible. While I haven’t had time to read anything that isn’t YA lately, and so haven’t yet gotten to devour it, you better believe I bought it ASAP!

New York City, 1831.

Passion, medicine and a plan to break the law …

When Doctor William Blackwood, a proper gentleman who prefers books to actual patients, meets retired Navy surgeon Doctor Augustus Hill, they find in each other not just companionship but the chance of pleasure–and perhaps even more. The desire between them is undeniable but their budding relationship is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious patient at New York Hospital.

Mr. Moss has been accused of being born a woman but living his life as a man, an act that will see him committed to an asylum for the rest of his life. William and Augustus are determined to mount a rescue even if it means kidnapping him instead.

Their desperate plan sets William and Augustus against the hospital authorities, and the law. Soon they find themselves embroiled in New York’s seedy underworld, mixed up with prostitutes, spies, and more than a lifetime’s worth of secrets. When nothing is as it seems can they find something real in each other?

Buy it: Amazon

Cover + Excerpt Reveal for All Downhill From Here by Erin Ptah!

Today on the site, we’ve got a cover and excerpt reveal for All Downhill From Here by Erin Ptah! This is a short spinoff story for the webcoming Leif & Thorn, but it’s a standalone AU; no previous knowledge of the comic is required. Here are the deets:

When a diplomatic conference gets derailed by an avalanche, native groundskeeper Leif and visiting knight Thorn end up buried together in the snow. The good news: Leif knows how to survive in the wilderness, and Thorn knows enough of the language to take directions. The bad news: a concussion, divided loyalties, malfunctioning magic, and any vampires that find them are legally allowed to eat them

Or: 13K words of fantasy survival hurt/comfort m/m, with translation difficulties, tangled loyalties, and romantic tension in between the mortal peril.

And here’s the cover!

Excerpt

They talk, for a little while, about safe topics. Nothing political. Nothing that has a real chance of killing either of them over the next few days.

At some point Thorn pulls out his smartcrystal, and Leif nearly melts with delight as he coos through the photos of Thorn’s cat. Some things are culturally universal.

With both of them inside the bedroll, it’s almost cozy. “I’ll take first watch,” says Leif presently, as Thorn is starting to get sleepy. “You should put your coat on back-to-front, so it’ll be open at the back, and we can put the heatpack between us while we’re spooning.”

Thorn’s mouth curves upward. “That sounds like dishes.”

“It…is. It’s the same word. Because spoons in a drawer, they’re like this….” Leif cups his gloved hands and sits them together, one inside the other. “Don’t you say that in Ceannic?”

He looks baffled when Thorn starts laughing — the first real laugh he’s had in what feels like weeks. “No, never! But maybe now I start.”

There’s a scramble as they rearrange their bodies and their clothes, so Thorn is facing the mouth of the tunnel with Leif hugging him from behind. The back-to-front coat means he can’t put his hood up, not without choking himself or at least getting a faceful of fur, so he gets to keep Leif’s scarf. Leif, meanwhile, nuzzles bare-faced against the back of his neck.

It’s…nice, okay? It’s really nice. It’s….

Look, it’s not like Thorn doesn’t know what’s going on, here. You go through a dangerous situation with another person, either you wind up stressed enough to go at each other’s throats, or worked-up enough to go at each other’s…well. Possibly also throats. Depending on what you’re into.

Especially if your companion is resourceful, and confident, and kind, and occasionally vulnerable, and unselfconscious about wrapping his arms around you to ward off the chill. Cute, too. Not that cuteness is the most pressing issue on Thorn’s mind right now…but he has noticed Leif’s snub nose and thin lips and pale, expressive skin.

He might even have said something, if not for be careful with the Sønska servants plus working up a sweat makes you more likely to freeze to death.

Best for Thorn to just keep quiet, no matter how much he likes the innocent “spooning.” (What a great word.)

“Is it only spoons?” he asks sleepily. “Can I also say that we’re forking?”

It’s his turn to be the baffled one, as Leif kinda splutters for no reason Thorn can figure out. “N-no, sir. That already means…something else.”

Links

Release date is December 20!

Ebook-friendly formats can now be preordered on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/763085

A fancy illustrated PDF will be available December 20 on the website: http://leifandthorn.com/short-stories/

Creating and Recreating in 2017: A Guest Post by Chicken Author Chase Night

I’m not gonna lie, dear readers. I did tear up at this post. It’s 2017 and it has been a literal hell of a year, and I know that for so many creators, it’s really hard to answer the question “Why keep going?” I think and hope this guest post from Chase Night, celebrating the revamped re-release of his gay YA, Chicken, helps answer that for many.

Starting December 19, a self-published version of Chicken will be available with a gorgeous new cover and several deleted scenes and other bonus material. And tonight, catch an exciting dramatization of the first chapter in “Welcome to Hickory Ditch, 2012” an episode of NPR’s Arts & Letters with J. Bradley Minnick, featuring music from some amazing artists like Daniel Martin Moore and Humming House. (Podcast link here.)

For sixteen-year-old Casper Quinn, there’s only one good thing about attending a fire-and-brimstone Pentecostal church in Hickory Ditch, Arkansas, and that’s Brant Mitchell, the pot-smoking, worship-leading golden boy he’s gone and fallen in love with. But just as the sparks between them finally start to fly, a political firestorm erupts over everyone’s favorite fast food chicken chain, Wings of Glory. Caught in the middle of the cultural crossfire, Casper and Brant will do whatever it takes to protect their secret. But feelings aren’t the only thing Brant has been hiding in this magical Southern Gothic romance, and when the truth comes out, Casper’s faith in him will be put to an unimaginable test. 

Fans of Jeff Zentner, John Corey Whaley, and Patrick Ness will devour this timely yet timeless tale of first love, fried chicken, and the things we give ourselves permission to believe in. Chicken will keep teens and adults alike swooning and swearing ’til the very last bite.

Buy it now with the original cover at Amazon, or revisit that link on December 19th to buy the brand-new one!

And now, the guest post:

At some point during the three very long years I spent writing Chicken, after I had finally let the editor who has agreed to publish it sight-unseen read a partial draft, he told me he was worried that it was going to be dated by the time I finished. He suggested cutting down on pop culture references from 2012 and setting the book in the vague future, “maybe 2017” instead.

I refused. For several story-related reasons, but also because the state of Arkansas, where I live and the book takes place, had just begun issuing same-sex marriage licenses in May 2014, becoming the first Bible Belt state to do so. That had seemed impossible on August 1, 2012 when I started writing Chicken after driving by a local Chick-Fil-A that required police presence to direct all the traffic our former governor Mike Huckabee had sent their way. So I told my editor that 2012 was non-negotiable because if things had already changed this much in two years then there was no telling how much better things would be by 2017.

*pause for everyone to look deadpan into the camera like Jim from The Office, another increasingly dated reference from  a simpler time*

After the election, like so many others, I had a crisis of faith. Stories are the closest thing I have to a religion, but it seemed they didn’t have quite the power I’d imagined. How does one read Harry Potter and still vote for Donald Trump? How do you vote for Donald Trump and then un-ironically cry during Rogue One (and not out of crushing guilt)? If some of the most heavy-handed warnings written since WWII couldn’t reach people, why bother writing stories at all?

After eighteen months of publication, I stopped trying to promote Chicken. And when its publisher announced this summer that they were closing and all rights would be reverted, there was even a moment when I thought, “Good. I can just take it down and get out of this business entirely.”

But wait.

There’s this kid. I won’t tell you how I know them, or what their gender is, because I won’t take even a tiny risk of outing them, and actually, it’s more than one kid anyway. And these kids watch the news and they hear their parents praise the President and they go to churches that blame them for everything that President hasn’t “fixed” and they sit through in-class “debates” moderated by the likes of Matt Lauer and they get shoved into lockers by teenagers already sporting Trump/Pence stickers on their bumpers and these kids are angry and they are afraid, but they wear pride buttons on their backpacks and hold hands in the hallways and there was even that time one of them punched a church girl in the stomach for saying something rude about an elderly transwoman in our town, which doesn’t make punching her okay, but you have to admit, it’s still a pretty heart-warming story.

And I’ve realized no matter how dark this thing gets, there will always be this: the first time a brush of someone’s hand turns your world upside down, the first time a friend calls you by the name you’ve picked out, the first time you kiss someone that matters, the first time they break your heart, the first time a stranger reads you with the right pronoun, or the first time someone doesn’t make you feel broken when you tell them you’re really not that interested in sex at all. I think about how many of those firsts are happening here, even in this hostile place, and I think about how many millions more are happening elsewhere, how they’re adding up, gathering strength, gaining speed, all of these kids hurtling toward that one really big first, the one that maybe matters the most.

You know the one I mean. It starts with a V.

The first time they vote in 2018.

God forbid my own despair, my own feelings of futility, convince even one of them that doesn’t matter! And so, I adjust my thinking. Let go of delusions of grandeur. Perhaps the purpose of a YA novel isn’t to win the battle for them; perhaps it’s to keep the soldiers on the front line from losing heart.

Look, here you are! Right here, pages 1 through 370. Beautiful. Brave. Beloved. Bad ass. You can do this.

Walking through a bookstore, one of these kids tells me they wish there were more books about people like them, and I say, “I know. But there’s more than you think, and I promise you a lot of people are trying to fix it.” And then I look down and spot A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I hand it to the kid, feeling like a very magical adult-type person. “Look, here’s one now!”

*****

Chase Night is an author, editor, and bookhat model, living in Arkansas with his wife and their animals. Chicken is his first novel.

Backlist Book of the Month: All I Want for Christmas by Clare Lydon

It’s December and the holidays are upon us, so what better choice for a backlist read than an f/f Christmas Romance?? Especially one that kicks off a holiday-themed series with the same couple starring throughout. Jump in for Christmas, and pick ’em back up for Valentine’s Day!

This Christmas, Tori Hammond is on a mission to find love. Her ideal present under the tree would be a shiny new girlfriend, so Tori gives herself one month to find that special lady by December 25th. Christmas spells romance and she’s going to grab some.

However, Tori’s dates bring their own complications, and when someone unexpected strolls back into her life, her Christmas girlfriend quest is turned upside down. Will Tori land on her feet and find the woman of her dreams? And if she does, will it be who she expected?

Buy it: Amazon

 

A Cure for the Common Grump: a Guest Post by Erin Finnegan (Standing Under the Mistletoe with Interlude Press: Day 3)

Standing Under the Mistletoe with Interlude Press: Day 3

A kiss can lead to so many unexpected things…especially one that takes place under the mistletoe. Join authors Killian B. Brewer, Pene Henson, Erin Finnegan, Lilah Suzanne, and Lynn Charles as they explore the most tantalizing literary kisses and their lasting impact in books in this new series, Standing Under the Mistletoe with Interlude Press. Every day from December 4th to December 8th, HEA USA Today, The Book Smugglers, LGBTQ Reads, All About Romance, and The Mary Sue will feature a new article from each author of the LGBTQ+ holiday themed collection, If the Fates Allow (out now from Interlude Press).

Buy it: Interlude * Amazon * B&N * iBooks * Kobo * Smashwords * Book Depository

A Cure for the Common Grump By Erin Finnegan

I’ll admit it: I love grumps.

In real life, give me friends with kindness and humor. But in between the pages, I want flawed characters, protagonists who are forced into a revelatory moment. And to make my reading complete, please make them tormented, and just a bit obtuse when it comes to love.

There’s one thing that can set the wheels in motion. You know it; I know it. It’s a kiss, or the promise of one, or even the moment that demands one but it somehow slips away, sending my beloved, brooding grump on a path of romantic self-discovery.

But until that moment, and sometimes after it, please, let them be grumptastic.

You can find them brooding on any bookshelf, from literary classics to science fiction (Han Solo? Space Grump.) to contemporary YA.

One of my favorite books is Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. The consuming affair that unravels lives and may change the course of war isn’t every reader’s cup of tea, but this poetic and tragic story of the affair between cartographer and a woman married to a member of his expedition team in pre-World War II Egypt is filled with delicious angst.

Almásy is your classic distant, brooding character in the pre-war passages of the book. But his post-war recollections of the relationship are transcendent; the moment that he and Katharine end their brief affair would seem to demand a kiss, but it’s absence serves as a painful accent point to the moment.

Now there is no kiss. Just one embrace. He untugs himself from her and walks away, then turns. She is still there. He comes back within a few yards of her, one finger raised to make a point.

“I just want you to know. I don’t miss you yet.”

His face awful to her, trying to smile. Her head sweeps away from him and hits the side of the gatepost. He sees it hurt her, notices the wince. But they have separated already into themselves now, the walls up at her insistence. Her jerk, her pain, is accidental, is intentional. Her hand is near her temple.

“You will,” she says.

I try to treat my books with respect—no cracked spines, thankyouverymuch—but I may have thrown my copy of The English Patient against the nearest wall when I first read that scene…in a good way. Those two prescient words serve in lieu of a kiss that is desperately left wanting.

Frustrating? Yes, intentionally so. A kiss-that-isn’t and leaves you wanting more.

The classics are filled with angsty, romantic protagonists: Darcy, Gatsby, and of course Heathcliff, among the royalty of romantic literary grumps.

Let’s be clear, Heathcliff is no gem. He’s brutal, emotionally abusive. He’s also tortured, haunted, and, it would seem against his wishes, deeply in love with Catherine Earnshaw. Their love story isn’t resolved in a kiss—it happens on her deathbed, after all—but it is cemented by it. Heathcliff is haunted by Catherine’s death—emotionally and eventually, literally.

These characters are often male, but I would like to see more women in the literary grump club. It plays counter to romantic stereotypes and opens the character up for some wonderful tics and traits.

In my 2016 novel Luchador, Lola—a champion boxer-turned-luchadora in love with a ambitious burlesque dancer—served this role. I loved turning the tables on this trope. Lola was tough and threatening, but in the presence of Bonnie “Fanny Vice” McCreary, those rough edges smooth. Love heals, folks.

Which is the point of my Grump 2.0, Jack Volarde in Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille, a short story in the Interlude Press holiday anthology, If the Fates Allow.

Jack, a political consultant, isn’t so much grumpy as he is driven. It’s not ambition that fuels that drive, but a sense of loss that has numbed his senses—until a bartender forces his hand. Jack has no interest in finding someone new, but he soon finds himself into a slow dance in the shadows of Christmas lights.

Javi paused and angled his face to Jack’s. The kiss was brief, comforting, and gentle. Jack hesitated, but didn’t pull away.

“Mistletoe,” Javi said, smiling. “I had to.”

He laced a hand through Jack’s hair, and kissed him again. It was more determined, more certain—a cool, electric rush that started at Jack’s lips and rushed to his fingers and toes. It felt like life itself.

A kiss can represent so many things: a beginning, an end, a revelation, or a moment of healing.

And there are other kisses, the ones that bring both resolution and the promise of something new. Think of first kisses, of those eye-opening moments of “Oh.”

Think, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

A kiss, and kissing in general, is a bit of a theme in Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s beloved coming of age story. Ari and Dante talk about kissing quite a lot: what they expect from it, whether they should try it themselves, the differences between kissing girls and kissing boys.

But this book keeps (spoiler alert) the kiss that matters to the very final sentences of the book. The thing you know must happen, the game-changer, that 358-page build to a simple moment between friends who are clearly destined to be so much more, plays out in a simple, straightforward moment as Ari, reluctant in love and sometimes grumpy in friendship, accepts that he is in love with his best friend.

“Try it again,” I said. “Kiss me.”

“No,” he said.

“Kiss me.”

“No.” And then he smiled. “You kiss me.”

I placed my hand on the back of his neck. I pulled him toward me. And kissed him. I kissed him. And I kissed him. And I kissed him. And I kissed him. And he kept kissing me back.

Could the discovery of the joy of love play out more simply, or more believably, than a kid thinking in wonder, “I kissed him”?

And in that transcendent moment of revelation, love proves itself the cure for the common grump.

About If Fates Allow, out now from Interlude Press: During the holidays, anything is possible—a second chance, a promised future, an unexpected romance, a rekindled love, or a healed heart. Authors Killian B. Brewer, Pene Henson, Erin Finnegan, Lilah Suzanne, and Lynn Charles share their stories about the magic of the season.

About Erin Finnegan’s story, Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille

As the one-year anniversary of his lover’s death rolls around on Christmas, Jack Volarde finds himself at their old haunt—a bar called the Casa Blanca, where a new bartender helps him open up about loss, and see brightness in a future that had grown dim.

Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and a winemaker who lives in the foothills outside Los Angeles. Her novel Luchador was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016, and along with her 2014 debut novel, Sotto Voce, received both a Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year award and a PW starred review.

Connect with Erin: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Cover + Excerpt Reveal: My Heart is Ready by Chace Verity!

Chace Verity is back on the site today with a cover reveal of the newest installment in fantasy romance series The Absolutes, My Heart is Ready, which releases on December 15! Here’s the book’s blurb:

The last thing Corsine ever expected to do was break into a vault and steal some rare seeds. Corsine has a secret magic known as Maje flowing through her veins, but she’s never committed a crime before, and she’s terrified of the other Majerian hoarding the seeds at Rosales. But the risk is worth it if she can successfully prove how far she’ll go for her girlfriend.

Self-proclaimed harpy king Lester loves chasing rumors, but it’s hard to fly around and gossip while molting. However, he doesn’t have time to shed quietly when his best friend Corsine is behaving suspiciously about her trip to Rosales. Plus he’s dying to impress Corsine’s (hot) fearless traveling companion.

For Corsine and Lester, uncovering truths is easy, but revealing secrets is hard when love and friendship are on the line.

And here’s the cover, featuring Lester, as drawn by the wonderful Maggie Derrick @ https://maggiederrick.com!

Want even more? Here’s an excerpt!

****

“Do you know anything about Absolutes?” Lester asked.

“Absolutes?”

Corsine set a tray of roasted sunflower seeds on the windowsill. No shells. Lester grabbed a handful and started munching on them, enjoying the salty snack as the cool morning breeze kissed his face.

Corsine had invited him inside her house, but he was molting and felt awkward about leaving feathers everywhere. His legs were almost done shedding. It would soon be time to seek safety for several weeks while the most tiring and stressful part of molting occurred, the replacement of his wing feathers.

Even kings experience periods where they cannot fly.

“I think they’re some kind of guardians.” Corsine leaned against the sill, staring up at the ceiling. Her black curls bobbed in cadence with her every movement, and her dark brown skin shimmered beautifully under the morning sunlight. She was always a delight to look at. “I was going to ask you about Rosales. Do you know anything about it?”

Blossom sat in the middle of the kitchen floor, glowering at Lester. She had never liked him. He didn’t care much for the fox, either. No useful gossip.

“Someone I know is going there next week,” he said. “Where is it?”

“Near the palace.”

“So there’s a city named Rosales in the middle of Florea.”

“It’s an agriculture school, not a city.” Corsine frowned. “You know someone?”

“I know someone.”

Lester stuffed more seeds in his mouth and dared Corsine to ask him to elaborate. He was ready to gush about… About…

Goddess. He had no idea what the flower-crown woman’s name was.

“Who?” Corsine asked.

He glanced at Blossom, as if she would know. She snorted.

Corsine looked over Lester’s shoulder, toward her lustrous field of sunflowers. They were slowly waking up from their nocturnal slumber.

“Hurry up,” she said. “Tris won’t be sleeping for much longer. Who is this person you know?”

Lester pointed to his left. “The woman from the rainbow strawberry farm. About our age?”

She stared at him.

“Sylvia?”

Sylvia. So lovely.

“You don’t actually know her, do you?” Corsine asked.

“I want to know her.”

“It would help if you knew her name. For all your cunning, you’re something of a daffodil when it comes to romance.”

He stuck his tongue out. “Good at cunnilingus, at least. That helped me with you.”

She gave him the same vexed look she gave a plate of cooked beets.

“Shut up.”

*****

Preorder My Heart is Ready now!

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

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

Better Know an Author: M. Hollis

I am super excited to welcome M. Hollis to the site this month, because not only is she an author of some of the cutest f/f Romance out there, but she’s also a huge f/f advocate and blogger and someone you must know if you don’t already!

You have a new novelette out! For those who are new to your work, can you give us a brief summary of A Night at the Mall and what you love about it?

A Night at the Mall is a story about two girls who get stuck in a mall store after it closes. I just love being able to write chick-lit with two girls because this is such a rare thing to find! Writing something that is just pure comedy with an overly excited protagonist that tends to romanticize everything was also a fun change. The prompt I came up with for this story was: What would happen if Elle Woods and Becky Bloom ever met? And then I created my own story from that.

This past September, you released Ripped Pages, an f/f retelling of Rapunzel. What inspired that choice of source material and what retellings (if any) can we expect from you in the future?

I wanted to publish an f/f retelling this year and then I did some research on what retellings were being released lately before I chose Rapunzel. With all these remakes of the classic Disney movies being made, I always end up leaving the movie theaters with this sense of something is missing. And then I watched a live musical of Beauty and the Beast and all I could think about it was how much I wanted a version where Beast is a girl.

The lack of pure romance movies with f/f rep is one of the things that most upsets me these days. I stopped going to the movie theaters and I’m always disappointed when these movies are all indie and I can’t watch it on a big screen. The fact that I may never get to watch a fairytale on a big screen about two women falling in love is just underwhelming.

So all of this inspired me to just write the retelling the way I wanted them to be. The kind of story young people don’t see or read while they are growing up because everything needs to be heteronormative otherwise it’s considered inappropriate.

I’d love to write a part 2 for Ripped Pages about Aurélia, Agnes’ little sister. I have an outline of a Sleeping Beauty retelling for her set 6 years after the first novelette that plays more with magic and the dreaming world. I may write this someday.

Your characters are basically the freaking cutest ever. Which one are you most attached to and why?

I really do feel attached to all the characters I create to the point that I always want to write spin-offs for all of them. Mostly, because they have so much of me and of the people in my life. But if I had to choose I’d say Lily from The Paths We Choose and Val from Ripped Pages are the ones that I feel more attached to right now. Lily because we are extremely similar in personality and in how we deal with our sexuality. And Val because I love her journey of figuring out her sexuality through books and I feel that so many of us can relate to that.

In addition to being an author, you’re also an f/f blogger with Bibliosapphic. What are your favorite books to push over there?

All of them! Because every F/F I read feels like an underrated book no matter what. Every time someone asks me for recommendations I end up sending a long list because they don’t know even half of them.

Some of my favorite books that I rarely see anyone reading or talking about are When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson, Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley, Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee, Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon, and Complementary and Acute by Ella Lyons.

What are you still dying to see in f/f lit?

Romcoms. I love romcoms so much and I want to see more of the most cliché love stories ever. Bodyguard falls for the princess, childhood best friends, actress and common girl who need to date in secret, and online dating. But the kind of books you can imagine being turned into movies people watch after a bad day. Stories that don’t overuse the queer pain or miscommunication for 100 pages.

Being based in Brazil, access is obviously a little different than in the US. What’s it like to obtain queer ARCs and books there, as both a reviewer and a reader?

I didn’t know I could get ARCs until last year so this is all very new to me. I remember friends mentioning NetGalley and thinking this was only for US people. So I’d say NetGalley was one of my saviors when it comes to finding ARCs to read. But unfortunately, I only get accepted to read books by small presses. It’s frustrating because I see everyone else reading and mentioning all these awesome new trad books and I know I won’t get to read them for a long time because they are usually too expensive even in ebook format in my currency.

Buying actual queer books in Brazil is one of the hardest things ever. F/F is not being translated here and so far, we mostly have short stories published in Portuguese. I think I can count on my fingers the number of F/F books that got translated in the last years, to be honest. The only books I have in paperback are English books I found randomly in bookstores after doing a lot of research. It’s sad because this lack of access to LGBT+ books is exactly why it took me so long to figure out my sexuality when I was a teenager, and yet, years later the change is still happening so slow. I read incredible F/F books in English and I’m happy I can read them but then I remember that someone out there needs them in Portuguese and they won’t be able to read these books.

I collect my readings pretty much using NetGalley, following authors I love who are always promoting these books and looking at the free section of Amazon and Smashwords to fill my Kindle until the next time I can buy more ebooks.

As a major advocate of f/f, what would you like to see more of in terms of support?

This is going to sound so silly but I wish people actually cared. It’s easy to say F/F is treated badly by readers but then turn around and never read or promote these books. That’s what happens most of the time. People say there are no books out there but they never even Google or look for the people who are working on this kind of literature.

I want to see people making fanart, fanfic, metas, and discussion about these characters. It’s so rare to see this. So many authors who I talk to believe no one would ever buy their books if they wrote stories about women. At the same time that I try my best to encourage them, sometimes I’m also discouraged myself. Because I know how hard it is to make people care or to try to think about why they don’t care. I’m not a person who cares a lot if my books never get into mainstream, but I know for many authors these things matter. They want to be NYT bestsellers or to have their books turned into movies. Why should they not deserve this too? And it can only happen if readers and publishers rally behind them. People need to show that there is an audience willing to pay for these stories.

One of the arguments I see going around all the time is that female characters never have stories written as well as male characters. It gets on my nerves every time. I’m not going to say this doesn’t happen. It does. But usually when they are being written by cis men. I wish people would be more self-aware on what they think it’s acceptable for characters of certain genders to do or not. When it comes to female characters if you make them unlikeable people hate them, if you make them too perfect, they are a Mary Sue. And yet, so many male characters I know fall into these spectrums and they have huge fandoms making loud noise about how amazing they are. Women can’t cry, can’t punch, can’t make mistakes without people judging them as characters.

What I want is to see readers actually buying F/F books, reviewing them on Goodreads and retail websites, making noise about these characters like they do for everyone else. And to stop saying these books don’t exist if they didn’t make a proper research. We are here trying our best to help people find these books and I hope they start paying attention and giving attention to these stories when we talk about them.

What’s the first LGBTQIAP+ representation you remember in media, for better or for worse?

The very first time I saw two girls kissing in media was in All The Things She Said by t.A.T.u, which was definitely not the best and I mostly just remember feeling scared my mom would think I enjoyed watching that.

A lot of the LGBTQIAP+ rep I watched growing up made me feel like this. Uncomfortable and like I was doing something I shouldn’t be doing. No one ever told me this was wrong, but I was aware it wasn’t considered normal.

It took me until I read Ask the Passengers by A.S. King and Far From You by Tess Sharpe around three years ago that I started to feel better about it. I’ll never forget how validating it was to read about two girls having sex in Far From You. It was life-changing to know people could even write this in books. After that, I started researching for any kind of F/F media I could find and couldn’t stop anymore.

What’s next for you?

I’m in two anthologies that are coming out in the first months of 2018. In Queerly Loving Vol. 2 by Queer Pack, you can find my epic fantasy short story The Warrior and the Dragon. It’s about a warrior who seeks justice for her father’s death and ends up finding an unexpected ally. And in Into the Mystic, Vol. 3 by NineStar Press I’m going to publish my first vampire/human short story! I’m very excited about both of these.

I also have a fake dating novella that I’m still looking for a place to publish with. So fingers crossed for that!

M. Hollis could never decide what to do with her life. From the time she was a child, she has changed her ideas for a career hundreds of times. After writing in hidden notebooks during classes and daydreaming during every spare moment of her day, she decided to fully dedicate herself to her stories. When she isn’t scrolling around her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies.

Website: https://mariahollis.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6302358.M_Hollis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_mhollis

Patreon: patreon.com/mhollis

Tumblr: mholliswrites.tumblr.com

New Releases: December 2017

If the Fates Allow, ed. by Annie Harper (1st)

During the holidays, anything is possible—a second chance, a promised future, an unexpected romance, a rekindled love, or a healed heart. Authors Killian B. Brewer, Lynn Charles, Erin Finnegan, Pene Henson, and Lilah Suzanne share their stories about the magic of the season.

“Gracious Living Magazine Says It Must Be a Live Tree” by Killian B. Brewer
Determined to make his first Christmas with his new boyfriend magazine-perfect, Marcus seeks the advice of lovable busy bodies, the Do-Nothings Club. When he learns that his boyfriend, Hank, may have ordered a ring, Marcus’ attempts to transform his home into a winter wonderland get out of hand.

“True North” by Pene Henson
Shay Allen returns to her hometown in Montana for the holidays with her best friend Devon with the intent to return home to L.A. by New Year’s Eve. Instead, the weather traps them in the small town, but the there’s a bright spot: her old crush Milla is still in town.

“Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille” by Erin Finnegan
As the one-year anniversary of his lover’s death rolls around on Christmas, Jack Volarde finds himself at their old haunt—a bar called the Casa Blanca, where a new bartender helps him open up about loss, and see brightness in a future that had grown dim.

“Halfway Home” by Lilah Suzanne
Avery Puckett has begun to wonder if her life has become joyless. One night, fate intervenes in the form of a scraggly dog shivering and alone in a parking lot. Avery takes him to a nearby shelter called Halfway Home where she meets bright and beautiful Grace, who is determined to save the world one stray at a time.

“Shelved” by Lynn Charles
When library clerk Karina Ness meets a new patron, lonely business owner, Wesley Lloyd, she puts her own love life on hold and begins a holiday matchmaking mission to connect Wes with her uncle Tony.

Buy it: Interlude Press

Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (5th)

The city-state Sirapirat once knew only warmth and monsoon. When the Winter Queen conquered it, she remade the land in her image, turning Sirapirat into a country of snow and unending frost. But an empire is not her only goal. In secret, she seeks the fragments of a mirror whose power will grant her deepest desire.

At her right hand is General Lussadh, who bears a mirror shard in her heart, as loyal to winter as she is plagued by her past as a traitor to her country. Tasked with locating other glass-bearers, she finds one in Nuawa, an insurgent who’s forged herself into a weapon that will strike down the queen.

To earn her place in the queen’s army, Nuawa must enter a deadly tournament where the losers’ souls are given in service to winter. To free Sirapirat, she is prepared to make sacrifices: those she loves, herself, and the complicated bond slowly forming between her and Lussadh.

If the splinter of glass in Nuawa’s heart doesn’t destroy her first.

Buy it:  Apex * Amazon * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords

Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron (5th)

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.

Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive, and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

Buy it: Entangled

Cloaked in Shadow by Ben Alderson (5th)

Zacriah Trovirn is concerned with two things in life: hunting and dodging Petrer, the boy who broke his heart.

Heartbreak becomes a distant concern when Zacriah is taken to the Elven capital of Thessolina, where he is forced into King Dalior’s new legion of shapeshifters. But Zacriah isn’t a shapeshifter. In truth, he doesn’t know what he is.

Zacriah joins forces with new friends and they soon find themselves embroiled in a clash between the three Elven continents. With war looming on the horizon, Zacriah must learn to use his latent power to fight and protect those he loves before they are destroyed.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Tailor-Made by Yolanda Wallace (12th)

Before Grace Henderson began working as a tailor in her father’s bespoke suit shop in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, she established a hard and fast rule about not dating clients. The edict is an easy one for her to follow, considering the overwhelming majority of the shop’s clients are men. But when Dakota Lane contacts her to commission a suit to wear to her sister’s wedding, Grace finds herself tempted to throw all the rules out the window.

Dakota Lane works as a bicycle messenger by day and moonlights as a male model. Her high-profile career, gender-bending looks, and hard-partying ways garner her plenty of romantic attention, but she would rather play the field than settle down. When she meets sexy tailor Grace Henderson, however, she suddenly finds herself in the market for much more than a custom suit.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Freed by Flame and Storm by Becky Allen (12th)

Revolution is nigh, and one seventeen-year-old girl stands at the head of it all.

Jae used to be a slave, laboring with the rest of her people under a curse that forced her to obey any order she was given. At seventeen, she found the source of her people’s lost magic and became the only person to break free—ever. Now she wants to use her power to free the rest of her people, but the ruling class will do anything to stop her.

Jae knows that breaking the curse on her people would cause widespread chaos, even unimaginable violence between the castes, and her caste would likely see the worst of it. Many would die. But to let them remain shackled is to doom them to continue living without free will.

How is one girl, raised a slave and never taught to wield power, supposed to decide the fate of a nation?

(Note: this is a sequel to a non-LGBTQ book, and contains f/f romance)

Buy it: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Penguin Random House *IndieBound

Right Here, Right Now by Georgia Beers (12th)

Accountant and financial advisor Lacey Chamberlain doesn’t consider herself a control freak. She’s merely a planner—orderly, neat, and content in her tidy little life. When a marketing firm moves into the empty office next door, the loud-music-playing, stinky-food-ordering, kickball-in-the-hall staff make Lacey crazy.

Marketing expert Alicia Wright is spontaneous, flies by the seat of her pants, and lives in the moment—all the things Lacey is not. She’s also gorgeous, thoughtful, and seems determined to make Lacey like her.

They say opposites attract, but for how long? And is that really a good idea?

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo (18th)

Buy it: Riptide

Three Sides of a Heart, ed. by Natalie C. Parker (19th)

These top YA authors tackle the much-debated trope of the love triangle, and the result is sixteen fresh, diverse, and romantic stories you don’t want to miss.

This collection, edited by Natalie C. Parker, contains stories written by Renee Ahdieh, Rae Carson, Brandy Colbert, Katie Cotugno, Lamar Giles, Tessa Gratton, Bethany Hagan, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, EK Johnston, Julie Murphy, Garth Nix, Natalie C. Parker, Veronica Roth, Sabaa Tahir, and Brenna Yovanoff.

A teen girl who offers kissing lessons. Zombies in the Civil War South. The girl next door, the boy who loves her, and the girl who loves them both. Vampires at a boarding school. Three teens fighting monsters in an abandoned video rental store. Literally the last three people on the planet.

(Note: this is not an LGBTQ anthology, but a significant number of the contributions are. Representation includes but is not limited to lesbian, bisexual, genderqueer, and polyamorous.)

Buy it: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Exclusive Excerpt: Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron

Once upon a time, this site hosted a cover reveal for Erica Cameron‘s Island of Exiles. Today, we’re excited to have an exclusive brief but enticing excerpt of its sequel, Sea of Strangers, out December 5th!

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.

Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive, and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

*****

“She’s good, but you’re better.” I kiss the pad of his thumb and grin as his expression shifts from amusement to arousal. “She’d be more than happy to give you the same thing if I brought you along.”

He smirks. “Is that so?”

“She’s more than a little interested in you, too. Or maybe us.” I lightly bite the tip of his thumb. “But somehow I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon.”

“I don’t know. I mean, where would we find the time?” Tessen jokes, but then his expression turns rueful. “It’s not an unappealing offer, but I told you—touch can be overpowering. And that’s with one. Two would be…”

“You could just watch,” I say with a shrug. And then start chuckling when his eyes go wide and he stops breathing for a beat.

Buy Sea of Strangers: https://entangledpublishing.com/sea-of-strangers.html

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33509083-sea-of-strangers

Erica Cameron is the author of books for young adults including the Ryogan Chronicles, the Assassins duology, and The Dream War Saga. She also co-authored the Laguna Tides novels with Lani Woodland. An advocate for asexuality and emotional abuse awareness, Erica has also worked with teens at a residential rehabilitation facility in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale.

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