Cover Reveal: Tales from Perach by Shira Glassman!

Excited to welcome Shira Glassman to the site today, to reveal the cover of her new collection of LGBTQ+ short fiction, set in her Mangoverse! If you’re reading this site, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with Shira, who’s a huge supporter of LGBTQIAP+ books (and f/f in particular), so, check out her brand new cover and please welcome her to share the info behind her new release!

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Announcing a new collection of short LGBTQ+ fiction: Tales from Perach. These stories all stand alone but take place in and around the invented Florida-like tropical Jewish kingdom of my full-length Mangoverse novels. My world is a positive and affirming place for bi, trans, and gay/lesbian characters, where they can interact with fairies and dragons and royalty–or maybe just bumbling business contacts—just like cis/straight characters always have. Their lives aren’t always free of microaggressions, but when they’re there, they’re reduced to the minute status of a gnat that’s easily swatted away.

Here’s what you’ll get if you read:

“Your Name is Love”: An energetic royal guard takes her artist wife on a scavenger hunt around the city so she can stop having artist’s block about the lesbian graphic novel she’s supposed to make for the queen.

“No Whining”: A chef dithers over whether to switch wine sellers when hers is incompetent but the delivery girl is a trusted ally.

“Every Us” A prince with anxiety is comforted in the arms of his partner when he wakes up from a nightmare.

“Take Time to Stop and Eat the Roses”: A trans teenager and his girlfriend go on a midnight quest for flowers for her sister’s wedding.

The Generous Princess” A royal family with two moms, two dads, and a dragon Zayde puts their own special twist on celebrating Purim.

Since this collection features several of the characters from The Olive Conspiracy, it’s included in the back of the paperback edition (expected September 2016), and if you buy the eBook from the publisher (it’s up for preorder now, with a July 20, 2016 release), the Tales from Perach eBook is included for free. What will its cover look like? Check out this gorgeous image from Torquere’s cover goddess Kris!

The Tales from Perach eBook will also be available for sale from third-party retailers like Amazon and Smashwords.

The building on the cover is a medieval Portuguese synagogue that you can read more about here.

Infinite thanks to Dahlia for having me on the blog!

If you want to learn more about the author and her books, you can find her here:

http://shiraglassman.wordpress.com
http://www.twitter.com/shiraglassman
http://shiraglassman.tumblr.com
http://www.facebook.com/ShiraGlassman

New Releases: June 7, 2016

Today is a huge day in LGBTQ YA releases, so without further ado, here are all the new rainbow reads you can finally find on shelves!

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

28698224Teen activist and trailblazer Jazz Jennings named one of The 25 Most Influential Teens of the year by Time shares her very public transgender journey, as she inspires people to accept the differences in others while they embrace their own truths.

Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series “I Am Jazz” making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults.

In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen. Through it all, her family has been beside her on this journey, standing together against those who don’t understand the true meaning of tolerance and unconditional love. Now Jazz must learn to navigate the physical, social, and emotional upheavals of adolescence particularly high school complicated by the unique challenges of being a transgender teen. Making the journey from girl to woman is never easy especially when you began your life in a boy s body.

Buy: B&N * Amazon

True Letters From a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan

24485772If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they’d tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa, is a happy, funny, carefree guy.

But whenever James sits down at his desk to write, he tells a different story. As he fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world–letters he never intends to send–he spills the truth: he’s trying hard, but he just isn’t into Theresa. It’s a boy who lingers in his thoughts.

He feels trapped by his parents, his teammates, and the lies they’ve helped him tell, and he has no idea how to escape. Is he destined to live a life of fiction?

Buy: B&N * Amazon

Tumbling by Caela Carter

22010100Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
Sacrifice everything.
And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.

Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.

Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life… and a secret that could ruin everything.

Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.

Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.

Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?

By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever

Buy: B&N * Amazon

You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

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Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

What new releases are you buying/borrowing/reading this week?

Cover Reveal: Order in the Court by Casey Lawrence!

Hello and welcome to the cover reveal of Order in the Court by Casey Lawrence, sequel to Out of Order! For reference, here’s the story behind the first book, which was a Bisexual Book Award finalist:

25446187Corinna “Corey” Nguyen’s life seems perfectly average for a closeted bisexual whiz kid with her eyes on college and a budding romance with her friend Kate. Sixteen and navigating senior year with her tight-knit group of best friends through crushes, breakups, and pregnancy scares, Corey mistakenly believes that running for valedictorian and choosing the right college are the worst of her worries. That is, until prom night, when she’s left alone and in shock, hiding inside a diner restroom, the only witness to a multiple homicide.

With graduation looming, the pressure is on for Corey to identify the killer and ensure that the crime that has changed her life forever will not go unpunished.

And now, here’s what you can expect in Order in the Court:

After witnessing the murders of her three best friends and having their killer arrested, seventeen-year-old Corey Nguyen is having trouble adjusting to life after high school. As a freshman in college, all she wants is to put her dark past behind her, make some new friends, and keep her head down.

Her new world comes crashing down when the killer changes his plea to not guilty, claiming he was coerced into a confession. Corey must now testify in a murder trial, making the panic attacks and flashbacks to the night of the murders intensify. To top it all off, she’s pretty sure her mother is having an affair with the prosecuting attorney. To Corey’s dismay, the story clearly doesn’t end with the murder of her friends.

Finally…here’s the cover you’ve been waiting for!

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You can preorder Order in the Court, which releases August 4, here!

Bisexuality, Intersectionality and Me: a Guest Post by Carrie Pack

Please welcome Carrie Pack to LGBTQ Reads! I met Carrie at RT in Las Vegas, when I was dancing around to every rainbow-flagged table in the room and froze at the sight of her beautiful cover, and now her book is out, you can buy the cover for yourself, and you can read this guest post!

Interlude Press * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Apple iBookstore *
All Romance eBooks * Smashwords * Book Depository * Indiebound

When I started writing In the Present Tense, I knew I wanted an intersectionally diverse cast of characters. I was already writing LGBTQ characters, so that part was a no-brainer. But this time, I wanted more racial diversity. And not because I wanted to check boxes or fill a quota, but because I’m sick of the whitewashing of the entire entertainment industry. I’m appalled that when I read a book I default to imagining the characters as white. I’m angry that American media have conditioned me this way, and I’m bored with this homogenized view of the world. There are so many stories to tell that aren’t about white, cisgender, heterosexual people and they can and should be told.

But simply put, there are certain stories that I can’t write because they’re not mine to tell. I am not the person to tell the story of what it’s like to live as a person of color because I am white. But I can make sure that my characters aren’t “white by default.” So I wrote a bisexual bi-racial man whose mother is black and father is white. I wrote a first-generation Colombian woman. I wrote a gay Korean adoptee. However, I did not write about their struggles or challenges as those identities.

Instead, I wrote about something I know: mental illness and the effect it has on the people we love. (I have depression and anxiety.) But what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was also writing about my sexuality. What I didn’t realize until it was all written was that I am bisexual.

Even now it’s tough for me to say it. To claim it outright. To not feel the need to excuse it or qualify it.

In fact, just a few months ago I wrote this in a blog post:

Ultimately, I don’t identify as bisexual… I have exclusively been in relationships with men my entire life. And since I’m happily married, I don’t see that changing any time soon. Even though I am occasionally attracted to women, my sexual feelings toward women are far less pronounced than the attraction I experience toward men… [Bisexual is] just not my label.

But the truth is, it is my label. I can claim it because it’s my identity. I am bisexual. There is no test to qualify. No requisite number of female partners. I am attracted physically and romantically to women. I am married to a man. These things can be true all at once.

I always leave little hints of myself and my loved ones in my characters. Little tiny Easter eggs that my friend and family may never find. So when I wrote Miles, the aforementioned bisexual man, I unknowingly left a little part of myself in his back story. Miles says that in high school, he thought he was only attracted to guys. He built his life around it. It wasn’t until much later he realized that girls were pretty great too. This was so similar to my experience that I can’t even believe I didn’t notice it before. I denied attraction to women because I had always been interested in men. Straight and gay were my only options, obviously. Isn’t that what the media tells us?

I think one of the reasons I never considered bisexuality when I was younger—despite several same sex attractions—was that I didn’t know it was an option. Fictional characters are always identified by the sex of their current partners. If a man who has always dated women is now dating a man, he’s suddenly gay. There is no room for fluidity.

It took me writing a book about a bisexual character for me to figure this out. I had to actually create the story in order for me to see myself reflected. It sounds almost rote at this point to say it, but I think it can’t be emphasized enough. Representation matters. It matters because there are still people out there who need to see themselves reflected in media. They need it because they need to be seen and they need to see possibility.

My name is Carrie, and I am bisexual.

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carrie-packCarrie is the author of two novels—Designs On You and In the Present Tense—and a part-time college professor. She recently left her job in marketing to actively pursue her writing career. Her early career focused on advertising, journalism, and public relations while she also did freelance writing for businesses in the nonprofit sector. Carrie lives in Florida, which she fondly calls America’s Wang, with her husband and four cats. Visit her website at carriepack.com or follow her on twitter @carriepack.

Backlist Book of the Month: A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett

This month’s backlist book of the month is A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett, a collection of short stories, each featuring at least one trans woman. Here are three reason to get this one on your shelf ASAP:

  1. The writing. I mean, it’s a straight-up good book with well-written stories, and if you dig short-story collections, this is a great one to pick up. It’s raw and honest and gives voice to far too many women who still don’t get one in literature.
  2. The diversity of representation. There’s some nice variety of trans experiences here—single and partnered and polyamorous and monogamous and straight and queer and vanilla and kinky and fat and easily read and not easily read.
  3. It’s not “trans lit for cis people.” Which, ya know, fellow cis people, I think we can cop to very largely writing when it’s us behind the wheel. I’m all for writing outside of your lane but this is a perfect example of #ownvoices at its finest, and why it matters.

Eleven unique short stories that stretch from a rural Canadian Mennonite town to a hipster gay bar in Brooklyn, featuring young trans women stumbling through loss, sex, harassment, and love.

These stories, shiny with whiskey and prairie sunsets, rattling subways and neglected cats, show growing up as a trans girl can be charming, funny, frustrating, or sad, but never will it be predictable.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

New Release Spotlight: You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Not gonna lie, I really wanted to put my own book here (Out on Good BehaviorContemporary f/f NA releasing June 14!), but when two powerhouses of LGBTQ YA get together, and release a super rare “great for teens that are already out” book, you kinda gotta give up top billing, even on your own site. So! Check out the deets on You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, a co-authored dual-POV Contemporary YA about a gay teen and a lesbian teen who form a fast friendship as they figure out their respective love lives.

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

 

Guest Post: Jess Walton on Introducing Teddy!

I’m excited to introduce Jess Walton on the site today, to talk about her new picture book, Introducing Teddy, inspired by her transgender dad. You can see more about the book (and buy it!) here. Please welcome Jess!

Today, my book is being released in the United States. As a first time author from Melbourne, Australia, that first sentence is utterly thrilling and still quite hard to take in. I can’t imagine what it will be like for this book to exist in another country, on the shelf of a bookstore somewhere, where people can pick it up and look at it, and maybe even buy it. Over the next few days, it will also be released in the UK and Australia. Eventually, Introducing Teddy will be translated into nine other languages, something I never would have imagined being possible at the beginning of this journey.

I wrote Introducing Teddy a little less than twelve months ago, so it’s been a whirlwind of a year, but this story really started about five years ago when my dad came out as transgender. We were all surprised but accepting, though our family went through a period of adjustment as the family home was sold, Tina transitioned and my parents split up in fairly quick succession. I had come out as gay years before, and we were always a very open-minded, progressive sort of family, so my initial response to Tina’s revelation was just love and a desire to help in any way I could. As Tina’s transition progressed, all of us adult kids experienced feelings of grief, which seems completely irrational to me now. I’m told it’s a common feeling for adult kids with parents who come out as transgender later in life, but now I look back and think, ‘What was I afraid of? What did I think I’d lost? The way my dad dressed? Her old name? The sound of her voice? What on earth does this have to do with our relationship, with who she really is?’ If anything, Tina’s transition has meant I get to see my dad as she really is, and that’s deepened and strengthened our relationship. I’ve gained so much, not that it’s about me. It’s about Tina being her whole and happy self.

At some point during Tina’s transition, my siblings and I asked her about alternative names to “Dad.” We talked about “Mum” but it didn’t feel right. I looked up the word “mum” in other languages and we tried one of them for a few weeks, but that didn’t feel right either. We’d all called her Dad for our entire lives, and while the switch to the name “Tina” and the pronouns “she/her” felt right, we all agreed on keeping “dad.” It feels like a term of endearment instead of a gendered word meaning ‘male parent’. When people refer to my dad as my “father,” I correct them. She’s not my father, she’s my dad. If there’s a gendered word for parent that fits, it’s mother. I have two mothers: one I call mum, the other I call dad. Got it? Good.

Anyway, it’s not confusing to me. It’s just my family. We have mum and dad (nanna and grandma to the kids), then the four of us adult children and our partners. There are two grandkids, and one more on the way (my wife is due in August). We are a very happy rainbow family. I wanted to read my children books that reflect my family, including transgender characters. It was really hard to find anything, especially for a very young age group. I started to think the only way to get the books I wanted on to my son’s bookshelf would be to write them. I had three months off work to look after my son, and I thought, it’s now or never.

I had an idea for a picture book about a transgender teddy. My son was obsessed with a book called Teddy Took the Train by Nicki Greenberg, so I knew he’d love a book with a teddy bear as the main character. I also thought it was interesting, the way we all have teddies we love as children and give them a name and a gender even though many teddies look totally gender neutral. What if one of our beloved teddies spoke to us and said, “actually, you thought I was this gender and you gave me this name, but deep down I know I’m a girl teddy not a boy teddy, and I wish you’d call me Wendy instead of Peter.” I imagined the way that young children would react to news like that. I think they’d say, “sure, no worries! Let’s keep playing!” This story idea would allow me to focus on identity, on what we know to be true in our hearts, instead of thinking too much about gender presentation.

Once I had an illustrator on board, we decided to put the book on Kickstarter. I figured there were other families out there like mine – families with transgender grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, mums and dads, kids – who needed picture books with transgender characters. What was genuinely surprising and delightful was how many of our backers did not have a trans family member, but wanted this book for their kids anyway. They could see the diversity in the world, and wanted it reflected and celebrated in the books they read their children.

The Kickstarter really took off when Neil Gaiman tweeted about it. Suddenly backers started pouring in, and international media began getting in touch. In the end it took six days for us to hit our funding target, and by the end of the campaign we had doubled it. An amazing agent from Writers House in New York contacted us via Kickstarter. We signed up and before we knew it, our book had been picked up by Bloomsbury Publishing. I still remember the moment I got the news. It was the middle of the night when the email came from our agent. I was so happy and excited, I woke my wife up. (“BLOOMSBURY are publishing Introducing Teddy, Charlotte! Is this real?! Can this really be real?!”) There wasn’t a lot of sleep in our household that night.

So now, a year after I wrote a little story for my son Errol and my dad Tina, my book is about to be released into the world. I couldn’t be happier, and I couldn’t be more determined to keep writing into the gaps, and celebrating others who write into the gaps. I hope that Introducing Teddy will eventually be one of many picture books for young kids with transgender and gender diverse characters, and that kids will know right from the very beginning that there is nothing wrong with being yourself, and that there is everything right with being open minded, kind, and accepting of our friends and family.

*  * * * *

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Jessica Walton lives with her wife, son, and cats in Melbourne. A former secondary teacher, Jess is passionate about literature, board games, the ukulele, and funky prosthetic legs (her current one features green dragon scales). Introducing Teddy is her first book. To find out more visit http://www.jessicawalton.com.au.

 

Fave Five: LGBTQ YA Retellings of Classics

Using “classics” fairly loosely here, but whatevs!

Great by Sara J. Benincasa (Contemporary The Great Gatsby)

As I Descended by Robin Talley (Paranormal Macbeth)

Marian by Ella Lyons (Fantasy Robin Hood)

Beast by Brie Spangler (Contemporary Beauty and the Beast)

Ash by Malinda Lo (Fantasy Cinderella)

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Under the Gaydar: YA Fantasy Worlds

While most of books you’ll see on this site are strictly LGBTQIAP+ MC, I’m going a little outside that box for this post. (Not to worry; there’ll be plenty of posts on that too.) Most of these books do have at least one queer primary character too, but this is sort of a bigger-picture look, because these are the series that wouldn’t necessarily come up if you searched for LGBTQIAP+ YA fantasy, and, well, this is Under the Gaydar; what else do you think we do here but build your TBR list with stuff you didn’t know was actually bleeding rainbows?

(N.B.: every book listed is the first in the series, but that’s not necessarily the book with the greatest amount of Rainbow Rep.)

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The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine Not only is the premise of this book, about a girl who’s supposed to become a queen with massive powers and then just kinda…doesn’t, pretty epic on its own, but the main character is also quite besotted with her handmaiden. As per usual in Fantasy, the word “bisexual” isn’t used, but the differentiation of her feelings from simply being friendly is done clearly, and the guy she ends up with never feels like a romance she settled for. Next year will bring the sequel, The Cursed Queen, which according to the author similarly has a bi MC, this time with f/f endgame.

And I Darken by Kiersten White – This historical fantasy is one of my biggest obsessions of the year, and features two narrators: a bloodthirsty girl named Lada and her brother, a softer, more beautiful boy named Radu. Oh, and both are in love with Mehmed, the son of the sultan of the Ottoman Empire in which they’re effectively being held captive.

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – The voice in this one alone could kill me, but one of the best things outside of the main character, macaron references, and NYC love is the amazing haters-to-lovers banter between Jasper and Dorian, two of the guys in her gang, who bring yet more wittiness to the series, along with some gayness and pansexuality.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu – One of my favorite fantasy series so far (two books down, one to come this fall) is all about villainy origins, but I’ll take a spin off on the queer romance that edges in through the cracks any day.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – I have to cop to that this is the one series on the list I haven’t started yet, but the absolutely glowing comments on varied representation in Shadow Scale, the second book in the duology, won’t allow me to leave it off the list until I do, especially since it’s the only mainstream-published fantasy I know of with trans representation.

Fave Five: Contemp f/f NA

Black Iris and Cam Girl by Elliot Wake w/a Leah Raeder

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon

The Good Girls by Teresa Mummert

Take Them by Storm by Marie Landry

Out on Good Behavior and Under the Lights (YA/NA) by Dahlia Adler

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Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!