Category Archives: Giveaway

Exclusive Cover Reveal + Galley Giveaway: Interactive Novel (!) Major Detours by Zachary Sergi

I am so excited to have today’s guest on the site, because this is seriously a project unlike any I’ve ever seen. Major Detours by Zachary Sergi is an interactive YA novel releasing from Running Press on September 7th, 2021, and today we’re not only revealing the cover, but we’re giving away three galleys with a different beautiful cover, and, because I had to know WTF it means that it’s an interactive YA novel, I asked Zach to share a little more about the process of making this happen!

But first, the book:

It’s the summer before college and four best friends—Amelia, Chase, Cleo, and Logan—are on the first leg of their road trip inspired by the unique tarot deck that Amelia inherited from her grandmother. However, their trip full of visiting occult shops, bonding, and sightseeing quickly takes a major detour when they discover that their tarot deck is more valuable—and coveted—than they could’ve ever imagined. Suddenly pursued by collectors who are after the legendary “lost” work of an infamous cult-following artist, the four friends will discover the fortunes that await those who unearth the deck’s four missing cards.

As the reader, you’ll get to make actual choices to further the friends’ road trip adventure in this first-of-its-kind interactive novel. Will you help the main characters, Amelia and Chase, learn and grow? How will you navigate Amelia’s steamy budding romances and overcome the challenges facing Chase and Logan’s queer-teen relationship?  Will you uncover the mysteries of the tarot deck? The choices are yours to make!

Major Detours is more than the branching-path books from your childhood. Instead, this fresh format bridges the gap between nostalgic choose-your-own-adventure and the modern style of digital interactive fiction, with choices that always lead you forward in the story and feature four diverse, queer characters navigating relationships and self-discovery. In Major Detours, the reader can interactively engage in two queer romances (from 2 alternating POVs), between the challenges facing a teen cis-male monogomous long-term relationship and a budding discovery of pansexual and nonbinary identities.

And because I cannot keep this epic cover from you any longer:

**Art by Karl Mountford | Design by Marissa Raybuck**

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

And, as promised, here’s Zachary Sergi to talk about the creation and inspiration of this novel!

Publishing Choices

As with any novel, the links in the chain that led to the creation of Major Detours could take us decades back, but I’ll start us more recently: after years of writing digital interactive fiction novels for Choice of Games (Heroes Rise and Versus, which have found the most devoted and lovely readerships) and almost selling two TV pilots (one about a youth cult and another about tarot cards—sound familiar?), I decided to focus my energy on returning to my very first dream: writing and publishing a print novel.

That story spans several years (and includes writing a more straightforward YA supernatural horror novel), but this intention ultimately put me on the path to meeting my agent, Lucy Carson, and eventually my editor at Running Press Kids, Britny Brooks-Perilli. It turns out Britny had read my novels for Choice of Games and wanted to know if I was interested in adapting my unique style of interactive fiction for print.

Of course, the answer was yes. Though really, I had never set out to write interactive fiction. The first Heroes Rise came about similarly: a manager asked if I’d pitch Choice of Games as one of my first opportunities out of college (this was before iPhones had become popularized, so writing a novel that would live as an app for a brand-new publishing company was…a leap of faith, to be sure). As it turns out, like many others, I’m uniquely suited to write interactive fiction, having made up RPG games and stories my whole life (with my ever-growing action figure collection). As RuPaul often says, sometimes you have to let the dream dream you. I always dreamed of being a writer—and as the universe would have it, I’m meant to be an interactive writer.

Needless to say I was very up for the challenge of adapting the complex, coded style of modern IF for print. Britny and I then embarked on a very non-traditional process—perhaps fitting for a very non-traditional print debut. Britny (who has turned out to be my creative soulmate)  pitched me a concept: road trip with a potential genre twist. I then pitched tarot cards, a subject I had spent lots of time researching and knew had hidden depths not reflected in pop culture yet. We talked style, then I drafted a full proposal, complete with a sample chapter and a totally new interactive format—one designed to feel as reader-friendly as possible.

After many months of additional drafts and conversations, Britny’s team approved the novel. After years of work, I had arrived at this dream-come-true destination—by taking lots of unexpected detours. But now I actually had to write this novel we had proposed…

Writing Choices

Interactive fiction was born out of the interactive novels of the 80s and 90s: most think of the Choose Your Own Adventure line, but I actually grew up reading the Goosebumps: Reader Beware…You Choose The Scare line (I even tried building my own interactive slasher novel in the 3rd grade…so again, detour or destiny?) The novels written for Choice of Games, however, are all grown up: with sophisticated plots and characters, including complicated choices that are tracked by built-in coding and statistics (born out of early adventure video games). How were Britny and I going to replicate this digital/app-driven medium for print?

With lots of creativity, it turns out. The format we invented for Major Detours has three cornerstones. First: a more novelistic style. The original interactive print novels are what we call “bushy,” with lots of short story branches that end quickly and jump all over the book, then send you back to the beginning. In Major Detours, the choices always lead you forward and follow the spine of a linear plot—plus there are callbacks to choices you’ve made along the journey.

This leads us to the second cornerstone: a reading guide in the backmatter, where you can write in your choices using keywords. This unique system keeps track of your choices in a simple way, but once finished reading, you can then plug your choice-keywords into several reader personality profiles. Of course, the choices you make further the plot and branch scenes, but primarily these choices focus on shaping the interior lives of the two protagonists: defining their relationships, their struggles, and their beliefs. In doing so, you also build your own personality profile, choice by choice.

Third, the tone here is no longer middle-grade adventure; instead, we’re dealing with contemporary YA characters and their emotional, steamy, drama-filled coming-of-ages. Oh, and our teen crew is on a spooky tarot adventure, on the run from a maybe-cult of thrilling antagonists and answering deep questions about the meaning of life via the tarot. Some choice themes you will encounter: Can you predict the future or is there no such thing as destiny? Are spirits real or do we only ever haunt ourselves? How can long-term relationships survive going to college on opposite coasts? Is it better to fall for the mysterious good one or the seductive bad boy? Perhaps most importantly, these themes offer several queer romances to navigate… but saying any more about these would definitely mean spoilers for the alternate endings.

The Choices Are Yours

Interactivity, road trips, the tarot, cults, spirituality, queer joy—welcome to Major Detours, an interactive novel unlike any you’ve read before. We truly cannot wait to share it with all you readers!

How cool is that??

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.

The galleys for Major Detours actually have a different cover, though it’s every bit as striking, and the Running Press team is giving three of them away here!

To enter, just leave a comment below! Let us know what you think about the cover, tell us about a choice you made (or wish you’d made), tell us your favorite game, or just acknowledge that this is really damn cool. Giveaway is open to U.S. recipients age 18 and over, and winner will be selected on Thursday, April 1st. Void where prohibited, and please allow for shipping delays due  to *gestures around at the world*. 

Happy 5th Anniversary, LGBTQReads!

Yup. Five years.

Five YEARS, this site has existed.

In five years, there have been over 800 posts, 20,000 Twitter followers, 16,000 Tumblr followers, and over 3,000 Instagram followers. We’ve revealed 126 covers, and yes, that’s my favorite number because it also happens to be my birthday, and no, I probably didn’t do that on purpose. (Plus, it’ll be 127 tomorrow.)

In five years, we’ve done a whole lot, all together. You’ve posted and shared, you’ve reblogged and retweeted, you’ve donated and commented, you’ve recommended this site to your library patrons and students, and you’ve helped make it what it is.

Thank you.

A few fun facts:

The most popular post on the entire site is… LGBTQIAP YA Preview 2020: January-June (and it damn well should be, since I wrote blurbs for 72 books)

The most popular guest post on the entire site is… Recommendations for Polyamory in Fiction by Shira Glassman

The most popular discussion guest post is… Goodbye, Bad Bi: the Lose-Lose Situation of Bisexual YA by Casey Lawrence

The most viewed cover reveal is… The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The most viewed New Release Spotlight is… Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

The most viewed Better Know an Author is… Kacen Callender

The most viewed Fave Five is… Canon Demisexual Characters

and the most viewed subpage is… (Romance) by Trope/Archetype

So, an anniversary! What are we doing to celebrate??

To be honest, not much! Because I had a book come out yesterday and have another one out in less than two months and I am a little fried! But you can enter to win that first one here, and if you want to win the latter (aka Cool for the Summer), comment below with one of your favorite LGBTQIAP+ books, and one you’re looking forward to reading this year! I’ll give away one bound galley (left) and one ARC (right) so please include which one you’re entering for in your comment!

Book Giveaway: That Way Madness Lies ed. by Dahlia Adler

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of LGBTQReads, but today we are celebrating a different creation of mine (because really, why run your own space on the internet if not to celebrate yourself as often as possible): That Way Madness Lies: XV of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined!

Of course, though I’m the editor of this one (and also wrote a story), anthologies do not happen without the brilliant authors behind the contributions, especially the queer ones! Here’s the copy including the official lineup:

Fifteen acclaimed YA writers put their modern spin on William Shakespeare’s celebrated classics! West Side Story. 10 Things I Hate About You. Kiss Me, Kate. Contemporary audiences have always craved reimaginings of Shakespeare’s most beloved works. Now, some of today’s best writers for teens take on the Bard in these 15 whip-smart and original retellings!

Contributors include Dahlia Adler (reimagining The Merchant of Venice), Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew), Lily Anderson (As You Like It), Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet), Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale), A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing), Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147), Joy McCullough (King Lear), Anna-Marie McLemore (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Samantha Mabry (Macbeth), Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus), Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night), Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar), Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet), and Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest).

Bookshop | Indiebound | Target | Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble

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No purchase necessary. The giveaway is open internationally to entrants 18 and older. Entry period begins at 12:00 p.m. EST on 3/16/21 and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on 3/21/21. Void where prohibited.

***To enter, tell us your favorite queer retelling in the comments!***

Book Giveaway: The Teixcalaan Duology by Arkady Martine

Today on the site, we’re doing a killer giveaway in partnership with Tor Books to celebrate the March 2nd release of A Desolation Called Peace, the second book in Arkady Martine’s Teixcalaan series! Tor is giving away five sets of both books in the space opera duology, so even if you haven’t yet read A Memory Called Empire, you’re totally covered!

A Memory Called Empire (Book One):

Winner of the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel
A Locus, and Nebula Award nominee for 2019
A Best Book of 2019: Library Journal, Polygon, Den of Geek
An NPR Favorite Book of 2019
A Guardian Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of 2019 and “Not the Booker Prize” Nominee
A Goodreads Biggest SFF Book of 2019 and Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee

A Memory Called Empire perfectly balances action and intrigue with matters of empire and identity. All around brilliant space opera, I absolutely love it.” —Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.

A fascinating space opera debut novel, Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire is an interstellar mystery adventure.

Buy it: Bookshop | Macmillan

 A Desolation Called Peace (Book Two):

A Desolation Called Peace is the spectacular space opera sequel to Arkady Martine’s genre-reinventing, Hugo Award–winning debut, A Memory Called Empire.

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.

In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.

Their failure will guarantee millions of deaths in an endless war. Their success might prevent Teixcalaan’s destruction—and allow the empire to continue its rapacious expansion.

Or it might create something far stranger…

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No purchase necessary. The giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec) 18 and older. Entry period begins at 12:00 p.m. EST on 3/1/21 and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on 3/7/21. Void where prohibited.

To enter, tell us your favorite queer sci-fi novel in the comments! Winners will be notified on Monday, March 8th!